APA Format and Microsoft Word

A paper in APA format should have the following:

  • 1 inch (2.54 centimeter) margins
  • font of your choice subject to APA guidelines
  • header which has the page number. A running head is required for professional papers but not student papers unless requested by the instructor.
  • title page
  • abstract page
  • main body of work (headings, paragraphs, figures, tables, quotations)
  • reference list

Your instructor may modify the above (e.g., not have an abstract page) or add other things like a Table of Contents, List of Figures, and a List of Tables.

This comprehensive guide to APA format has the following information:

  1. APA Format
    You will learn the format required for your academic writing.
  2. Effective Utilization of Microsoft Word
    You will receive practical guidance on effectively using Microsoft Word to apply APA formatting to your academic writing.

APA format is important because it ensures consistency and clarity in your academic writing which allows your ideas to be effectively and credibly understood.

Also, citing references in APA format will ensure you correctly credit your sources of information thus avoiding plagiarism.

Lastly, writing in APA format correctly will enhance your reputation as an academic scholar.

I will also provide some additional information that will be useful for adult learners such as some Microsoft Word tips, and some strategies for academic success.

Margins in APA Format

Top, bottom, left and right margins should be 1 inch or 2.54 centimeters which is the default setting in Microsoft Word.

Often you will not have to change the margin size.

However, margin sizes may be different if the paper you are writing is to be printed and bound.

See margins in APA format if you want to check the margin size or change the margin size.

Font Type and Size in APA Format

The current APA guidelines (seventh edition) allow for a range of font types and sizes.

Note: This is different to the previous sixth edition which recommended Times New Roman size 12 as the font.

Often your instructor will specify a font to use because there is a standard for your school or faculty, or that they prefer a particular font.

So, first check the assignment guidelines.

Also, the APA seventh edition suggests various font types and sizes (opens in new window).

Header in APA Format

There are two types of headers for a paper in APA format. They are:

Your instructor may vary these guidelines. Ask if in doubt.

Page Number Only

APA format requires a page number on every page, including the title page.

However, guidelines provided sometimes vary this.

The following options are presented:

Page Number Only in the Header Beginning on the Title Page

For a student paper in APA format, align the page number against the right margin beginning with 1 on the title page (see Figure 1).

Example of the header for a student paper in APA format with a page number every pageFigure 1: Header for a student paper in APA format

If required, see page number in APA format on every page for instructions on how to insert the page number.

Page Number Only in the Header but Not Displayed on the Title Page

The APA format for page numbers is varied by not displaying the page number on the title page (see Figure 2).

Page number beginning on second page and not the title pageFigure 2: Page number displayed after the title page (variation to APA format)

See page number not displayed on title page for instructions on how to display a page number on every page after the title page.

Page Number in the Header Beginning at 1 After the Title Page

The APA format for page numbers is varied by starting the page number at 1 on the page following the title page (se Figure 3).

Page number beginning at 1 on the page following the title pageFigure 3: Page number 1 after the title page (variation to APA format)

See title page without a page number for instructions on how to begin page numbering after the title page.

Page Numbers in Both Roman and Arabic Numeral Form

A common variation to the APA style for page numbers is to have Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv ...) for the preliminaries such as the Table of Contents, and Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4) for the main text (see Figure 4).

Title page with no page number, Table of Contents with Roman numerals (i, ii ...) for page numbers, and main text with Arabic numerals (1, 2 ...) for page numbersFigure 4: Roman and Arabic numerals for page numbers (variation to APA format)

See table of contents in APA format for instructions on how to use both Arabic numerals and Roman numerals for page numbers.

Running Head and Page Number in the Header (Professional Paper)

The header for a professional paper in APA format contains the following:

  • Running Head which is an abbreviation of the paper's title
  • Page number

See Figure 5 for an example of a header in APA format for a professional paper.

Running head in APA format exampleFigure 5: Header in APA format for a professional paper

See how to create a Running Head in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Title Page in APA Format

There are two different formats for the title page in APA format. They are:

  • student title page: This is usually for student papers (those not to be published, normally undergraduate papers).
  • professional title page: This is usually for professional papers (those to be published).

Your instructor may vary these guidelines. Ask if in doubt.

Abstract Page in APA Format

An abstract page is not normally required for a student paper but is for a professional paper (for example a thesis).

However, your instructor may vary this requirement, for example, for a longer student paper.

Ask if you are not sure if an abstract is required.

See how to make an abstract page in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Headings in APA Format

Your paper in APA format will contain several headings, and hierarchies of headings, that is, subheadings of headings.

APA style identifies five levels of headings:

  • Level 1
  • Level 2 (subheading of Level 1)
  • Level 3 (subheading of Level 2)
  • Level 4 (subheading of Level 3)
  • Level 5 (subheading of Level 4)

Figure 6 gives an example of three levels of headings.

Example of Level 1, 2 and 3 headings in a paper in APA formatFigure 6: Level 1, 2 and 3 headings

See headings in APA format on how to create your headings in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Paragraphs in APA Format

To format a paragraph in APA format, you should:

  • use a font type and size of your choice within APA guidelines 
    (see font types for recommended fonts).
  • align the paragraph against the left margin.
  • indent the first line of the paragraph (0.5 in or 1.27 cm).
  • double space lines within a paragraph.
  • not hyphenate a word over two lines.

See paragraphs in APA format on how to create your paragraphs using Microsoft Word.

Quotations in APA Format

Quotations shorter than 40 words are written in the sentence in the text. There is no special formatting apart from enclosing the quotation in double quotation marks.

Quotations of 40 or more words are written as a separate block of text with the following format:

  • indented 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters) from the left margin
  • double line spaced
  • the first line of any subsequent paragraphs is indented another 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters)

See quotations in APA format on how to format your quotation using Microsoft Word.

Footnotes in APA Format

Footnotes are not used for citations but can be used to provide extra information or copyright attribution.

See how to organize footnotes in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Figures in APA Format

Figures, which include images and diagrams, have specific guidelines in APA format.

See how to create a figure in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Table of Contents in APA Format

While there isn't an official guide for a Table of Contents in APA format, you might consider adding one to your APA-formatted paper.

See how to create a Table of Contents in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Tables in APA Format

Tables have specific guidelines in APA format.

See how to create a table in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Citations in APA Format

Citations and reference list entries have specific guidelines in APA format.

They can also be quite time consuming. Citation generators can save you a lot of time.

See how to cite in APA format using Zotero, a free citation generator.

Useful Microsoft Word Functions

Microsoft Word offers a variety of helpful features that can benefit students in their academic pursuits and other professional endeavors. These useful functions include:

  • Headers: You can use headers to display consistent page numbers, document titles, or section headings at the top of each page, enhancing document organization and readability.
  • Footers: You can use footers to add page numbering or other information at the bottom of each page.
  • Page Numbering: Microsoft Word allows you to easily add page numbers to your document.
  • Title Page (Cover Page): You can create a professional-looking title page or cover page for your academic or business documents.
  • Table of Contents: Microsoft Word can generate a table of contents automatically, making it easy to navigate through your lengthy documents.
  • List of Figures: If your document includes figures or images, Microsoft Word can generate a list to organize them.
  • List of Tables: Similarly, Microsoft Word can create a list of tables if your document contains tabular data.
  • Outline: You can use Microsoft Word's outlining feature to structure and organize your ideas effectively.
  • Index: For longer documents, you can create an index to help readers find specific information quickly.
  • Special Characters: Microsoft Word allows you to insert special characters, symbols, and foreign language characters easily, enhancing the versatility of your documents.

By familiarizing yourself with these functions, you can efficiently create well-formatted and organized documents, making your academic and professional work more effective and presentable.


If you delve into the website and study its content, you will achieve the following:

  • Learn APA formatting: The provided Microsoft Word screenshots and instructions will guide you in mastering APA format.
    See "what is APA format" for an introduction to APA format.
  • Save time: Applying APA format settings directly from the screenshots to your Word document eliminates the need for time-consuming searches and manual adjustments.
  • Consistently format your academic writing: You can set up the appropriate APA format once and reuse it across various Word documents for consistent formatting.
  • Utilize a powerful tool: Microsoft Word's capabilities significantly aid your academic writing endeavors.
  • Improve your chances of success in academia: Acquiring new Microsoft Word skills will prove invaluable in your career, particularly if you aim for an academic path.
  • Benefit in any career: Strong Microsoft Word skills have broad applications and advantages in any business field.

Microsoft Word is a powerful tool that will help you in many ways with your academic writing.

This investment in learning and applying these features will greatly enhance your academic work and contribute to your overall success in both educational and professional endeavors.

Moreover, this website goes beyond APA formatting to offer essential strategies for academic success, such as understanding and applying various learning styles.

Recognizing your personal learning style can dramatically improve your study efficiency and retention, allowing you to absorb and comprehend course material more effectively.

By integrating these strategies into your academic routine, you can develop a more structured and organized approach to your studies. Improved time management skills, effective note-taking techniques, and enhanced memory retention will all contribute to heightened academic performance.

Also, effective grammar usage will help you communicate ideas more clearly and coherently in your academic writing, bolstering the impact of your work.

In summary, www.apaword.com not only equips you with the tools for APA format mastery and Microsoft Word proficiency but also provides invaluable strategies for academic success.

The following feedback is for a Masters thesis (that I edited):

  • "the content is excellent"
    The student's proficiency in Microsoft Word allowed them to dedicate more time to research, analysis, and presenting their findings rather than finding out how to use Microsoft Word.
  • "the thesis was very professionally presented"
    Using Microsoft Word fully resulted in the thesis being presented in the best academic writing style.

For more information on how Microsoft Word can enhance your academic writing, refer to word tips.

The official APA website is here.

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