APA Paragraph Style in Word

Set up your APA paragraph style in Word once and then:

  • format all your paragraphs APA style with one click.
  • format all your future APA style academic papers with one click.

There is no need to define the format again!

The benefits of using a Word style are immense!

They are:

  • great time savings because there is no need to format each paragraph every time
  • consistency of format everywhere in the document (e.g., the first line of each paragraph is indented 0.5 inch or  1.27 centimeters)
  • accuracy because you define the format once and then just apply it
  • ease of maintenance.
    For example, you have written your academic paper with the 12-point Times New Roman font, and then your instructor requests the 11-point Arial font for paragraphs.
    No problem - just change your style to 11-point Arial and all paragraphs will change automatically to the 11-point Arial font size.

You will be more efficientconsistent, and accurate with your academic writing!

If you have already written a paragraph in APA format, you can use that paragraph to create the APA paragraph style in Word.

If you have not written a paragraph in APA format, you can create your APA paragraph style in Word first, and then apply the style.


Create the APA Paragraph Style in Word Using an Existing Paragraph

See Figures 1 to 4 to create the style from an existing paragraph in APA format.

Step 1 - Select an Existing Paragraph in APA Format

Select a paragraph already in APA formatFigure 1: Select a paragraph in APA format

Written instructions for Figure 1 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select (click and drag) a paragraph that has been formatted as an APA paragraph.
    Please note: You must include the character after the paragraph. This is the paragraph mark that holds the properties of the paragraph, for example, double line spacing.
  2. Select Styles in the mini toolbar that appears.
    The styles pane will appear (see Figure 2).
    Note: If the mini toolbar does not appear, right click the mouse - the mini toolbar will appear.

Step 2 - Open the New Style Dialog Box

Select new style dialog box in WordFigure 2: Select new style dialog box

Written instructions for Figure 2 (if required) are as follows:

  • Select Create a Style.
    This will open the dialog box to create a new APA paragraph style.

Step 3 - Create the APA Paragraph Style

Create a Word style for a paragraph in APA formatFigure 3: Create the style from a paragraph in APA format

Written instructions for Figure 3 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Enter the style name of your choice.
  2. If you want to make your APA style available for future documents
    select Modify
    Else select OK.

Note: I strongly recommend you make your style available for future documents. This means you can format APA paragraphs in any future academic writing with one "click". This is how you save time, and ensure your paragraphs are formatted accurately and consistently.

Step 4 - Make APA Paragraph Style Available for Future Documents

Select option to make the APA paragraph style available for new documentsFigure 4: Make APA paragraph style available to future documents

Written instructions for Figure 4 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select New documents based on this template.
  2. Select OK.

The APA paragraph style will now be available in new documents in the Style gallery.

You can now use the style to quickly format a paragraph in APA format.


Create the APA Paragraph Style in Word

Format the APA paragraph styles in Word by assigning the following settings:

  • Font type and size of your choice if you are using the APA seventh edition style
    - see font types (opens in new window)
  • Aligned against the left margin
  • First line of the paragraph indented (0.5 in or 1.27 cm)
  • Double spaced
  • No automatic hyphenation.

Step 1 - Open the Styles Menu

Select right-hand down arrow in Styles group to open Styles menuFigure 5: Open Styles menu

Written instructions for Figure 5 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select Home tab (if not selected).
  2. Click  on the bottom right-hand arrow of the Styles Group.
    Your Styles group may be expanded with some available styles.

Step 2 - Select New Style Window

Select new style in Styles menu to create APA paragraph styleFigure 6: Select new style in Styles menu

Written instructions for Figure 6 (if required) are as follows:

  • Select the New Style button.

Step 3 - Create the APA Paragraph Style

Create New Paragraph Style by entering the APA format requiredFigure 7: Create New APA Paragraph Formatted Style

Written instructions for Figure 7 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Open the Create New Style Formatting dialogue box.
  2. Complete the Properties section as follows (see Figure 7):
    • Name - enter what you would like to call the style, for example, APA Paragraph
    • Style type - select Paragraph from the drop down list
    • Style based on - select (no style) from the drop down list
    • Style for following paragraph - Select the name that you have given the style - for example, APA paragraph _ from the drop down list
  3. Complete the Formatting section as follows (see Figure 7):
    • Select the font type, for example, Times New Roman
    • Select the font size, for example, 12
  4. Complete the following at the bottom (see Figure 7):
    • Add to the Styles Gallery (if not already checked)
    • Select "New document based on this template" so that this style is available for future APA style documents
      OR

      Select "Only in this document" if this style is only for this document.
  5. Click on the Format button.

Step 4 - Select Format Type

Select paragraph from APA paragraph format style menuFigure 8: Format menu for APA paragraph format

Written instructions for Figure 8 (if required) are as follows:

  • Select Paragraph from the Format menu

Step 5 - Enter APA Indent and Spacing

Format paragraph Indent and Spacing properties in the APA styleFigure 9: Adding APA Formatting to the Paragraph Style

Written instructions for Figure 9 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Click on Paragraph.
  2. Complete the following in Indents and Spacing:
    • Alignment - Select Left if not already selected.
    • Outline level - Select Body Text from the drop-down menu.
    • Special (in Indentation group) - Select First Line then 0.5 in ( or 1.27 cm).
      This indents the first line according to the APA style.
    • Spacing Before and After - Set to 0 pt.
      APA style requires no additional spacing between lines (because lines are double spaced).
    • Line Spacing - Select Double from the drop-down menu.

Step 6 - Select Don't Hyphenate

Set Widow/Orphan control and Don't hyphenate for paragraph styleFigure 10: Widow/Orphan control and Don't hyphenate for the APA Paragraph Style

Written instructions for Figure 10 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Complete the following in Line and Page Breaks:
    • Select Widow/Orphan control if not already selected.
    • Select Don't hyphenate.
    • Click OK.

How to Format an APA Paragraph Using the Style You Have Created

APA Paragraph Style in the Styles Gallery

Apply the APA paragraph style that has been createdFigure 11: Select the Created APA Paragraph Style

Written instructions for Figure 11 (if required) are as follows:

To type a paragraph in the APA paragraph format:

  1. Click on the new style you have created in the gallery.
  2. Enter your paragraph.

If you have already typed the paragraph but not in the APA paragraph format:

  1.  Place the cursor inside the paragraph.
  2. Click on the style in the gallery.

APA Paragraph Style Not in the Styles Gallery

Make the Styles menu availableFigure 12: Open the Styles menu

Written instructions for Figure 12 (if required) when the APA paragraph style is not in the Styles gallery:

  • Click on the arrow in the bottom right hand corner of the Styles group.
Select APA paragraph style from the Styles menuFigure 13: Select APA paragraph style

Written instructions for Figure 13 (if required) when the APA paragraph style is not in the Styles gallery:

  • Select the APA paragraph style that you have created previously.
    Note: To add your APA paragraph style to the Styles gallery, click on the down arrow next to the style, and select Add to Style Gallery.

Update Heading Styles with APA Paragraph Style Details

A paragraph often follows a heading when you are writing your academic paper (see Figure 14).

Figure 14: Example of APA paragraph format following APA heading format

If you have not already done so, select your APA paragraph style to follow your APA heading style to increase your productivity even more!

Do this for all your headings in APA format, that is, for the different levels you have.

Step 1 - Select Modify the APA Heading

Select Modify to update APA heading style with APA paragraph formatFigure 15: Select Modify to update APA heading style with APA paragraph format

Written instructions for Figure 15 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Open the Styles panel (click arrow in bottom-right of Styles group - see Figure 12 above).
  2. Select the APA Heading style.
  3. Click on the down arrow and select Modify.

Step 2 - Add the APA Paragraph Style Name to the APA Heading

Add APA Paragraph Style to follow APA HeadingFigure 16: Paragraph style to follow an APA heading

Written instructions for Figure 16 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Enter your APA paragraph style name in "Style for following paragraph".
  2. Select "New documents based on this template".
    The updated heading style will be available in any new documents as well.

Every time you enter an APA heading (Level 1, 2 or 3), the APA paragraph style will follow.

Summary

APA paragraph styles in Word are very useful for your academic writing.

The advantages are:

  • You can format paragraphs in APA style very quicklyaccurately and consistently whenever you want.
  • You have learnt or practiced a Word skill that will be very useful in your future.

There are some other ways of creating APA  paragraph styles in Word, for example, you could modify an existing style.

References

See APA paragraph format for the official American Psychological Association Guide.