What is the APA format I should use is an important part of academic writing.
But first - what is APA format?
APA format is a set of rules (known as the APA style) on how to present your academic writing.
APA was developed by the American Psychological Association. The APA style is periodically updated. The latest version is the APA seventh edition released in 2019, replacing the sixth edition which was released in 2009.
APA style will tell you how to format the:
and many other aspects of academic writing.
The official APA website states that
"APA Style provides a foundation for effective scholarly communication because it helps writers present their ideas in a clear, precise, and inclusive manner."
This means that your writing will be better and more professional.
This will impress your instructors resulting in better grades.
The official APA website states that
"Uniformity and consistency enable readers to (a) focus on the ideas being presented rather than formatting and (b) scan works quickly for key points, findings, and sources."
This means that readers (especially your instructor) will concentrate on the content (i.e., what you have to say) and not be distracted by inconsistent formatting (e.g., a mixture of title case and sentence case headings).
Your grades will be better as a result.
Your institution (university, college, school) has mandated (i.e. told you to) use APA formatting for your academic writing (e.g. essays, reports, assignments, theses).
If you don't, you may be penalized.
APA formatting of your work will:
The margins (left, right, top, bottom) should be 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) according to the APA style.
Microsoft Word should have these as the default.
To check the margins:
This will be suitable for most academic papers and you will not have to make any changes.
You may have to make changes if your paper (usually a thesis or dissertation) is to be printed and bound.
See how to set up APA margins if different from the standard.
The title page is the first page of your academic paper.
The contents of the title page differ between student and professional papers in the APA seventh edition.
See how to format the APA title page.
The running head is a shortened title that appears in the header of each page.
The requirements differ between student and professional papers.
See how to format the APA running head using Microsoft Word.
Page numbers are required on every page with the Title page being number 1.
Page numbers are right aligned in the header.
Page numbers also need to be formatted correctly in citations and references.
See how to format APA page numbers using Microsoft Word.
The abstract is a short concise (250 words or less) summary of your academic paper.
The abstract is only required for the professional paper in the APA seventh edition.
The format of the abstract is slightly different to the paragraph format used in the main text of the paper.
See how to format the APA abstract using Microsoft Word.
Headings (and subheadings) define the structure of your academic paper.
A reader can look at the headings and subheadings to understand the topics and logical flow of the paper.
See how to format APA headings using Microsoft Word.
Paragraphs are the bulk of your academic paper.
There could be many paragraphs, all of which need to be in APA format.
See how to format each APA paragraph quickly, efficiently, accurately and consistently using Microsoft Word.
Quotations are used to support an argument and show how well you have researched a topic.
See how to format APA quotations using Microsoft Word.
Footnotes in the APA style are used to add additional nonessential information.
See how to format APA footnotes using Microsoft Word.
Pictures can add value to the content within an academic paper.
For example, you may be theorizing how the pyramids were built in ancient Egypt. Adding a picture of the pyramids will enhance the reader's understanding of the resulting construction.
See how to format an APA picture using Microsoft Word.
A flowchart is used to show the order and rules of a set of processes. The flowchart can supplement written instructions (e.g., a list) or replace them entirely. Often this visual representation is easier for the reader to understand the processes, particularly with more complex logic.
See how to format an APA flowchart using Microsoft Word.
The APA style guide does not say how to format a table of contents (TOC).
However, many instructors require a TOC.
This is particularly true for longer academic papers because:
See how to apply APA formatting to a Table of Contents using Microsoft Word.
APA is used widely by universities, colleges and schools.
It is an important part of academic writing for both undergraduate students and graduates.
Mastering APA style and formatting your writing correctly will certainly help your academic writing.
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