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APA Format Guidelines for an A+ Paper

Are you ready to create an APA format paper? Well, it’s time. Learn all the tips and tricks to create an APA format paper from the margins and heads to the title page and figures.

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APA Format Paper General Guidelines

You are about to embark on the creation of your APA paper formatting. It might be your first time, or you just need a refresher. Whatever the case, this guideline has you covered for everything, and that means everything APA when it comes to setting up your paper. But first, the basics.

  • Use a standard 8.5 x 11 piece of paper (no weird sizes, no fancy colors)
  • 1-inch margins on all sides
  • 12 pt. Times New Roman recommended
  • Double-spacing
  • Indent new paragraphs

With those basics in mind, you’re well on your way to an A+ paper. However, that isn’t all APA recommends. Get the down and dirty tips for formatting your title page, abstract, body, and tables.

Creating Your APA Title Page

The first thing to tackle is your title page. It isn’t the beast that you think it might be. Setting up your title page is pretty straightforward. The absolutes needed to get started include:

  • Running header (students can ignore this in the new APA format update)
  • Page number
  • Title
  • Author
  • Affiliation/Institution

Writing Your Abstract

With your title page formatted to perfection, tackling abstract formatting comes next. The abstract is a bit more complicated than the title page, so pay attention. And unless your instructor deems it necessary, APA says you can nix the abstract if you are a student.

For those that do need to create an abstract, make sure to include:

  • Title
  • 150-250 word summary
  • Keywords

When it comes to your research abstract, don’t fill it with unnecessary details. Keep it clear and on point for your readers. And for students, the running header is optional.

example abstract APA format

APA Format Paper Example

Now, it’s time to get into the heart of your paper, formatting the APA body. APA paper formatting for your essay takes precision. But not to worry, APA style guide is there to hold your hand.

example APA format rules research paper

APA Running Head

Unless requested by your instructor, students can skip the APA running header. Others, well, not so much. When it comes to creating your running head in APA, it’s simple. The running head is the title of your paper and follows this format.

  • Place running heads ½ inch down from the top of the paper
  • Left aligned
  • Use all capital letters
  • Have no more than 50 characters
  • No abbreviations but &
  • Do not label “Running head:” per APA 7

Page Numbers

Students, it’s now time to pay attention because all papers should have a page number. Place page numbers in the upper right corner, ½ inch down, and start with page 1.

Font and Line Spacing

APA style used to be a stickler about font and font size. However, in APA 7, they’ve become more relaxed. Therefore, in addition to Times New Roman 12 pt., you can use sans serif fonts like Calibri 11 pt. and serif fonts, like Georgia 11 pt. Regardless of the font you use, make sure it is readable and shows a definite difference between regular and italicized text.

Line spacing in your APA format paper is simple. Everything should be double spaced, including your references. Don’t add any extra spaces between paragraphs, except for the title page, tables, and footnotes.

Margins & Page Alignment

When it comes to setting up your margins, use 1-inch all the way around. Additionally, you’ll want an uneven edge on the right-hand side, so make sure justified is not clicked in your word processing software. APA also calls for you to indent the beginning of each paragraph by a ½ inch, which you do by hitting the tab on your keyboard.

APA Format Headings

It’s now time for the dreaded APA headings. Unlike MLA, which lets you choose, APA has a strict format for setting up the headings. There are five specific levels of headings APA uses. Headings are used in sequential order, meaning you start with level 1 and work your way down to level 5.

APA levels of heading

APA Format Bias-Free Language

Perfect formatting also includes impeccable writing and bias-free language. To help you keep bias out of your paper, APA offers you some handy tips including:

  • Keep the focus on relevant age, disability, gender, and racial characteristics.
  • Be specific when it is appropriate. For example, only describe characteristics relevant to your study or paper.
  • Use people-centric terminology when discussing characteristics. For example, a child with autism, people with economic difficulties.
  • The use of the singular “they” is acceptable.
  • Be mindful of false hierarchies.

Tables & Figures in an APA Format Paper

Now to tackle those tables and figures. APA made a lot of changes in its 2019 update. Tables and figures were one area. When it comes to tables and figures, keep a few things in mind.

  • Label – Figures and tables are labeled (i.e., Figure 1, Table 1)
  • Body – Includes the actual table or figure
  • Note – Describe the content

While the construction of tables and figures vary slightly, those are the basics.

example figure APA format

example table APA format

Perfect APA Paper Formatting Every Time

Knowledge is power. And you are armed and ready to create an ideal APA paper. Just keep in mind the different rules as you go. If in doubt, just check the APA manual.

FAQ APA Format Guidelines for an A+ Paper

How do I set up APA format in Word?

To set up APA format in Word, you would need to set the margins to 1 inch, spacing to double, and a page number header. Once you set up the formatting, you can begin typing your paper. You can then follow the specific rules for formatting headings and new paragraphs.

How do I cite in APA format?

To cite in APA format, you include the author, publication, title of work, publisher, and URL or DOI. The way you format each specific citation depends on the material that is being cited. For example, a book citation looks different than a journal citation.

Should I include page numbers on the title and reference page in an APA format paper?

Yes, you should include the page number on the title and reference page of your paper. APA requires you to have a running page number throughout the entire work.

Who uses APA format?

APA format was created by the American Psychological Association for students and professionals to use when creating social science research papers and essays.

What person is used in APA format?

In APA format, you use the third person to write your paper. It is also essential to make sure that your document follows all the APA specific writing conventions for grammar, along with ensuring your paper remains bias-free.

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