Apa research paper format

How to Write a Research Paper in APA format

The table of contents should begin with a centered heading of “Table of Contents” in boldface at the top of the page.

APA Style (7th ed.)

This is an APA format template document in Google Docs. Click on the link — it will ask for you to make a new copy of the document, which you can save in your own Google Drive with your preferred privacy settings.

Or, view the directions for specific sections below:

Order of Sections Title Page References
Margins & Page Numbers Body Appendices with Tables, Figures, & Illustrations
Text Format Headings Annotated Bibliography
Quotations Optional: Running Head & Abstract

Order of Sections (section 2.17)

  1. Title page including Title, Author, University and Department, Class, Instructor, and Date
  2. Body (including introduction, literature review or background, discussion, and conclusion)
  3. References
  4. Appendices (including tables & figures)

Margins & Page Numbers (sections 2.22-2.24)

  • 1 inch at top, bottom, and both sides
  • Left aligned paragraphs and leave the right edge ragged (not “right justified”)
  • Indent first line of each paragraph 1/2 inch from left margin
  • Use page numbers, including on the title page, 1/2 inch from top and flush with right margin

Text Format (section 2.19)

  • Use one of these highly readable fonts:
    • Times New Roman, 12 point
    • Calibri, 11 point
    • Arial, 11 point
    • Lucinda Sans Unicode, 10 point
    • Georgia, 11 point

    Tables and Figures In-Text (chapter 7)

    • Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1)
    • Give each table column a heading and use separating lines only when necessary
    • Design the table and figure so that it can be understood on its own, i.e. it does not require reference to the surrounding text to understand it
    • Notes go below tables and figures

    Title Page (section 2.3)

    • Include the title, your name, the class name , and the college’s name
    • Title should be 12 words or less and summarize the paper’s main idea
    • No periods or abbreviations
    • Do not italicize or underline
    • No quotation marks, all capital letters, or bold
    • Center horizontally in upper half of the page

    Body (section 2.11)

    • Align the text to the left with a 1/2-inch left indent on the first line
    • Double-space
    • As long as there is no Abstract, at the top of the first page, type the title of the paper, centered, in bold, and in Sentence Case Capitalization
    • Usually, include sections like these: introduction, literature review or background, discussion, and conclusion — but the specific organization will depend on the paper type
    • Spell out long organization names and add the abbreviation in parenthesis, then just use the abbreviation
    • Spell out numbers one through nine and use a number for 10 or more
    • Use a number for units of measurement, in tables, to represent statistical or math functions, and dates or times

    Headings (section 2.26-2.27)

    • Level 1: Center, bold, Title Case
    • Level 2: Align left, bold, Title Case
    • Level 3: Alight left, bold italics, Title Case
    • Level 4: Indented 1/2″, bold, Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text.
    • Level 5: Indented 1/2″, bold italics, Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text.

    an illustration of the headings -- same detail as is given directly above this image

    Quotations (sections 8.26-8.33)

    • Include short quotations (40 words or less) in-text with quotation marks
    • For quotes more than 40 words, indent the entire quote a half inch from the left margin and double-space it with no quotation marks
    • When quoting two or more paragraphs from an original source, indent the first line of each paragraph a half inch from the left margin
    • Use ellipsis (. ) when omitting sections from a quote and use four periods (. ) if omitting the end section of a quote

    References (section 2.12)

    Begins on a new page following the text of your paper and includes complete citations for the resources you’ve used in your writing.

    How to Write a Research Paper in APA format

    Becoming academically successful is not easy. In order to accurately and academically write about research results, you have to get acquainted with the rules of formatting a research paper or you can pay for custom research paper according to all APA formatting rules.

    APA style is used worldwide for formatting and referencing sources used in research papers. APA formatting guidelines allow authors to efficiently organize their arguments and properly credit secondary literature to avoid plagiarism. Furthermore, the APA style improves comprehension for readers as the consistency it provides allows readers to focus on the contents of the paper instead of its presentation. The APA style guidelines are updated according to feedback from researchers and educational stakeholders. The APA style guidelines provide authors with a credible and well-recognized format, which makes their paper well-organized and easy to read.

    What is APA?

    A set of guidelines when writing a piece of literature not only makes the organization of arguments easier but also enables better readability. The APA style has been created by the American Psychological Association as a language to be used in research papers and higher education. An APA research paper is formatted according to an expected standard and sources are cited correctly to avoid plagiarism.

    The APA research paper format allows writers to be consistent with their writing, which increases efficiency concerning research and organizing arguments.

    Using APA in-text citations and references in the bibliography can prevent writers from accidental plagiarism. Besides enabling the organization of ideas and preventing plagiarism, using APA provides writers with credibility as the use of APA style proves that one can ‘speak’ the language of academia. Following APA style provides writers with a predictable format to organize their ideas and provides readers with easier comprehension. Knowing how to use APA format is also key. In addition, you can always get a research paper written for you.

    The latest APA style in use is the 7th Edition, which was published in 2020. Several changes were made in this edition to make the format easier to use for educational stakeholders. Some of the pertinent changes include alterations to formatting and citations. The 7th edition has recommended different cover pages for professionals and students. Student papers also do not require a running head in the current edition, and professional papers’ running head does not require the label “running head”. Furthermore, level three, four, and five headings have been modified. The recent edition is also more lenient concerning font choices, and a variety of fonts are acceptable given one is used consistently throughout the paper. Several changes have been made to the reference list and the APA format citation. Writers must follow the guidelines of the latest APA style unless specified otherwise. If students encounter difficulties with this type of writing, they usually use help of research paper services .

    General Requirements for APA Format

    Paper Length

    Given that the APA style is usually used in the literature about the scientific field, the authors must remain concise and precise. Professional language is key, and the main ideas should be written clearly. Authors should avoid irrelevant details. Overall, the length of APA style papers should be kept to the minimum while encompassing the author’s ideas.

    Margin Requirements

    APA formatting rules call for papers to be typed on a standard-sized paper of 8.5 inches times 11 inches. The text in the paper should be double-spaced with a one-inch margin on all four sides. The font used should be easily readable; however, 12-point Times New Roman is generally used . Students are to follow these standard guidelines unless specifically informed otherwise by their professors.

    Title Page Components

    The 7th edition calls for a different APA title page research paper format for students and professionals. A student paper will include the title of the paper, the author’s name, institutional affiliation, course name, and number, the name of the instructor, and the due date of the assignment. The title should be centered and in boldface and should be one or two lines long. The title can contain uppercase and lowercase letters. The title should be concise and writers should avoid using irrelevant words or abbreviations. Similar to the rest of the paper, the title page should also be double-spaced. In a professional paper, the title should be followed by the institutional affiliation with the location where the research was conducted. These papers also include an author’s note, which is divided into several paragraphs. The first paragraph consists of the authors’ name and ORCID ID (omitted if the author(s) do not have an ORCID ID). Any deaths of authors or changes in affiliation are written in the second paragraph, and the third paragraph includes any acknowledgments and disclosures. Student papers do not require an author’s note.

    Running Heads

    Running heads are not required for student papers, however, professional papers include a running head. The “running head” label has been omitted in the APA’s 7th edition A running head is flush left of the paper and should not exceed more than 50 characters including spacing and punctuation. Furthermore, the running head is in all uppercase . In both types of papers, the header has the page number flush right.

    Table of contents

    The table of contents is an important part of an academic paper as it provides readers with a roadmap for the paper. Adding a table of content is not compulsory in APA, but is recommended for lengthier papers. The table of contents should be in the same font and double-spaced such as the paper.

    The table of contents should begin with a centered heading of “Table of Contents” in boldface at the top of the page.

    All main headings are flushed to the left, and subheadings are indented by five spaces. Lower level headings can also be included, but they should be additionally indented. All headings should be in the title case, and dotted lines should be included between the headings and their page number for easier readability. The table of contents will include all pages, including preliminary and supplementary, and should not exceed two pages. Table of contents makes the paper easier to navigate through, which in turn allows the readers to focus on the content of the paper, one of the key purposes of using APA style.


    A solid outline forms the foundation of a well-organized paper. An APA paper is broadly divided into three parts, namely, the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. The introduction provides background for the paper and contains the thesis statement. In the body, the writer presents the main points that support the thesis statement. The conclusion provides the overall summary of the points made in the body and justifies how the paper supports the thesis statement. The references list follows the conclusion. For research papers, an abstract should also be added before the introduction. All research papers may not follow this exact outline, but this outline serves as a general guideline.


    The abstract is written after the title page. Although generally overlooked, the abstract serves as a pivotal part of any well-written research paper. The purpose of an abstract is to provide the readers with a summary of the research paper. Being the first thing the reader sets their sight upon in the research paper, the abstract should inform the reader what the research paper is about and what they can expect. An abstract is a single paragraph in block format. Moreover, the abstract is written on its page titled “abstract”, which is centered. Given that the abstract is required to be 150 to 250 words, each sentence should be packed with information for maximum impact. The information in the abstract should be structured according to the paper. writers should ensure that the abstract is succinct yet well-organized and packed with information.

    An APA-style paper broadly consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. This part of the paper contains indented paragraphs.

    The introduction is written after the title of the paper, which is placed on the top of the page, centered. The introduction paragraph is not labeled. According to Hamilton (n.d.), the introduction of an APA-style paper is one of the most difficult components to write.

    The purpose of the introduction is to provide writers with a critical overview and summary of empirical knowledge to define why the researchers chose to conduct the study.

    The first line of the introduction is crucial as it can either cause the readers to continue reading the paper or otherwise. Therefore, the first line should “hook” the readers by being something interesting and thought-provoking. The introduction begins by broadly exploring the topic area and further narrows towards the hypothesis or thesis statement. References may be used in the introduction of research papers. Nevertheless, the use of direct quotes should be avoided. The introduction ‘introduces’ the paper to the readers and contains the hypothesis or thesis statement, making it critical for the paper.

    The body contains the main points of the paper. In the case of a scientific research paper, the body will begin with the Method. All main headings of the body should be centered and in boldface. Albeit the Method section is quite straightforward, it must be precise and comprehensive to ensure that any other researcher can replicate the method used in the research paper exactly. The Method section can further be divided into Participants, Materials (and/or Apparatus), and Procedure sections. These sections will be labeled in boldface and flush left. Following the Method section will be the Results section. This section contains the methods used for the analysis of the data and the results so obtained. Researchers may also use tables and graphs to visually present the data to improve comprehension. The next section is the Discussion in which the researcher(s) interpret the data and compare them with existing literature concerning the topic. The Discussion section can be deemed as the opposite of the introduction concerning how it is organized. That is, it begins with specific information and further broadens. Limitations and scope for further research may be included in this section. The concluding paragraph of the study reiterates the need for the study and how it has added to existing literature. The above-mentioned outline for a research paper is for mainly scientific fields; APA format is used in several types of papers and should be outlined accordingly.

    Reference Page

    The APA format reference page consists of a detailed list containing information regarding the sources used throughout the paper. This section begins on a new page titled “References”, which is centered and on top of the page. The first line of the reference is flush left with the rest of the lines indented. The references are arranged alphabetically and are double-spaced. Books and journal titles are italicized, and the punctuation and capitalization used in the source are retained even if they are not standard. The format of the references should follow the guidelines outlined in the latest edition of APA format. The reference page is of utmost importance as it credits the sources used in the paper; if the sources are improperly credited or not credited at all, the author of the research paper loses credibility and risks plagiarism.

    Guides for Writing in APA Format

    How to Use References in APA

    APA referencing can be divided into two components: reference list and in-text citation. The core elements of an APA citation format are author rules, date rules, title rules, publisher rules, and the “Retrieved from…URL” if the source is found online. The reference begins with the author’s last name followed by a comma and then his or her initials. Commas are used to separate multiple authors, and an ampersand is used before the name of the last author. If the source contains authors with the same surname and initial, their name should be added next to their initials in square brackets. Following the authors’ name, the date when the source was published is written. In case the date is missing, “n.d.” is written. The format of the title of the source differs depending on what is being referenced. For example, good titles for research papers require the proper nouns and the first word to be capitalized. The periodical title is italicized and written with normal capitalization. The volume number follows the title. Subsequently, the page numbers that were accessed in the article are mentioned . In Publisher rules, if the location of the publisher is in the US, the name of the city and the two-letter state code is written. Otherwise, the name of the city and the country are written for publishers located outside of the US . Following the correct format for the APA reference page is requisite.

    How to Write an APA Research Paper

    An APA-style paper includes the following sections: title page, abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references. Your paper may also include one or more tables and/or figures. Different types of information about your study are addressed in each of the sections, as described below.

    General formatting rules are as follows:

    Do not put page breaks in between the introduction, method, results, and discussion sections.

    The title page, abstract, references, table(s), and figure(s) should be on their own pages.
    The entire paper should be written in the past tense, in a 12-point font, double-spaced, and with one-inch margins all around.

    Title page

    (see sample on p. 41 of APA manual)

    • Title should be between 10-12 words and should reflect content of paper (e.g., IV and DV).
    • Title, your name, and Hamilton College are all double-spaced (no extra spaces)
    • Create a page header using the “View header” function in MS Word. On the title page, the header should include the following:

    Flush left: Running head: THE RUNNING HEAD SHOULD BE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. The running head is a short title that appears at the top of pages of published articles. It should not exceed 50 characters, including punctuation and spacing. (Note: on the title page, you actually write the words “Running head,” but these words do not appear on subsequent pages; just the actual running head does. If you make a section break between the title page and the rest of the paper you can make the header different for those two parts of the manuscript).

    Abstract (labeled, centered, not bold)

    No more than 120 words, one paragraph, block format (i.e., don’t indent), double-spaced.

    • State topic, preferably in one sentence. Provide overview of method, results, and discussion.

    (Do not label as “Introduction.” Title of paper goes at the top of the page—not bold)

    The introduction of an APA-style paper is the most difficult to write. A good introduction will summarize, integrate, and critically evaluate the empirical knowledge in the relevant area(s) in a way that sets the stage for your study and why you conducted it. The introduction starts out broad (but not too broad!) and gets more focused toward the end. Here are some guidelines for constructing a good introduction:

    • Don’t put your readers to sleep by beginning your paper with the time-worn sentence, “Past research has shown (blah blah blah)” They’ll be snoring within a paragraph! Try to draw your reader in by saying something interesting or thought-provoking right off the bat. Take a look at articles you’ve read. Which ones captured your attention right away? How did the authors accomplish this task? Which ones didn’t? Why not? See if you can use articles you liked as a model. One way to begin (but not the only way) is to provide an example or anecdote illustrative of your topic area.
    • Although you won’t go into the details of your study and hypotheses until the end of the intro, you should foreshadow your study a bit at the end of the first paragraph by stating your purpose briefly, to give your reader a schema for all the information you will present next.
    • Your intro should be a logical flow of ideas that leads up to your hypothesis. Try to organize it in terms of the ideas rather than who did what when. In other words, your intro shouldn’t read like a story of “Schmirdley did such-and-such in 1991. Then Gurglehoff did something-or-other in 1993. Then. (etc.)” First, brainstorm all of the ideas you think are necessary to include in your paper. Next, decide which ideas make sense to present first, second, third, and so forth, and think about how you want to transition between ideas. When an idea is complex, don’t be afraid to use a real-life example to clarify it for your reader. The introduction will end with a brief overview of your study and, finally, your specific hypotheses. The hypotheses should flow logically out of everything that’s been presented, so that the reader has the sense of, “Of course. This hypothesis makes complete sense, given all the other research that was presented.”
    • When incorporating references into your intro, you do not necessarily need to describe every single study in complete detail, particularly if different studies use similar methodologies. Certainly you want to summarize briefly key articles, though, and point out differences in methods or findings of relevant studies when necessary. Don’t make one mistake typical of a novice APA-paper writer by stating overtly why you’re including a particular article (e.g., “This article is relevant to my study because…”). It should be obvious to the reader why you’re including a reference without your explicitly saying so. DO NOT quote from the articles, instead paraphrase by putting the information in your own words.
    • Be careful about citing your sources (see APA manual). Make sure there is a one-to-one correspondence between the articles you’ve cited in your intro and the articles listed in your reference section.
    • Remember that your audience is the broader scientific community, not the other students in your class or your professor. Therefore, you should assume they have a basic understanding of psychology, but you need to provide them with the complete information necessary for them to understand the research you are presenting.
    Method (labeled, centered, bold)

    The Method section of an APA-style paper is the most straightforward to write, but requires precision. Your goal is to describe the details of your study in such a way that another researcher could duplicate your methods exactly.

    The Method section typically includes Participants, Materials and/or Apparatus, and Procedure sections. If the design is particularly complicated (multiple IVs in a factorial experiment, for example), you might also include a separate Design subsection or have a “Design and Procedure” section.

    Note that in some studies (e.g., questionnaire studies in which there are many measures to describe but the procedure is brief), it may be more useful to present the Procedure section prior to the Materials section rather than after it.

    Participants (labeled, flush left, bold)

    Total number of participants (# women, # men), age range, mean and SD for age, racial/ethnic composition (if applicable), population type (e.g., college students). Remember to write numbers out when they begin a sentence.

    • How were the participants recruited? (Don’t say “randomly” if it wasn’t random!) Were they compensated for their time in any way? (e.g., money, extra credit points)
    • Write for a broad audience. Thus, do not write, “Students in Psych. 280. ” Rather, write (for instance), “Students in a psychological statistics and research methods course at a small liberal arts college….”
    • Try to avoid short, choppy sentences. Combine information into a longer sentence when possible.
    Materials (labeled, flush left, bold)

    Carefully describe any stimuli, questionnaires, and so forth. It is unnecessary to mention things such as the paper and pencil used to record the responses, the data recording sheet, the computer that ran the data analysis, the color of the computer, and so forth.

    • If you included a questionnaire, you should describe it in detail. For instance, note how many items were on the questionnaire, what the response format was (e.g., a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree)), how many items were reverse-scored, whether the measure had subscales, and so forth. Provide a sample item or two for your reader.
    • If you have created a new instrument, you should attach it as an Appendix.
    • If you presented participants with various word lists to remember or stimuli to judge, you should describe those in detail here. Use subheadings to separate different types of stimuli if needed. If you are only describing questionnaires, you may call this section “Measures.”
    Apparatus (labeled, flush left, bold)

    Include an apparatus section if you used specialized equipment for your study (e.g., the eye tracking machine) and need to describe it in detail.

    Procedure (labeled, flush left, bold)

    What did participants do, and in what order? When you list a control variable (e.g., “Participants all sat two feet from the experimenter.”), explain WHY you did what you did. In other words, what nuisance variable were you controlling for? Your procedure should be as brief and concise as possible. Read through it. Did you repeat yourself anywhere? If so, how can you rearrange things to avoid redundancy? You may either write the instructions to the participants verbatim or paraphrase, whichever you deem more appropriate. Don’t forget to include brief statements about informed consent and debriefing.

    Results (labeled, centered, bold)

    In this section, describe how you analyzed the data and what you found. If your data analyses were complex, feel free to break this section down into labeled subsections, perhaps one section for each hypothesis.

    • Include a section for descriptive statistics
    • List what type of analysis or test you conducted to test each hypothesis.
    • Refer to your Statistics textbook for the proper way to report results in APA style. A t-test, for example, is reported in the following format: t (18) = 3.57, p < .001, where 18 is the number of degrees of freedom (N – 2 for an independent-groups t test). For a correlation: r (32) = -.52, p < .001, where 32 is the number of degrees of freedom (N – 2 for a correlation). For a one-way ANOVA: F (2, 18) = 7.00, p < .001, where 2 represents the between and 18 represents df within Remember that if a finding has a p value greater than .05, it is “nonsignificant,” not “insignificant.” For nonsignificant findings, still provide the exact p values. For correlations, be sure to report the r 2 value as an assessment of the strength of the finding, to show what proportion of variability is shared by the two variables you’re correlating. For t- tests and ANOVAs, report eta 2 .
    • Report exact p values to two or three decimal places (e.g., p = .042; see p. 114 of APA manual). However, for p-values less than .001, simply put p < .001.
    • Following the presentation of all the statistics and numbers, be sure to state the nature of your finding(s) in words and whether or not they support your hypothesis (e.g., “As predicted …”). This information can typically be presented in a sentence or two following the numbers (within the same paragraph). Also, be sure to include the relevant means and SDs.
    • It may be useful to include a table or figure to represent your results visually. Be sure to refer to these in your paper (e.g., “As illustrated in Figure 1…”). Remember that you may present a set of findings either as a table or as a figure, but not as both. Make sure that your text is not redundant with your tables/figures. For instance, if you present a table of means and standard deviations, you do not need to also report these in the text. However, if you use a figure to represent your results, you may wish to report means and standard deviations in the text, as these may not always be precisely ascertained by examining the figure. Do describe the trends shown in the figure.
    • Do not spend any time interpreting or explaining the results; save that for the Discussion section.
    Discussion (labeled, centered, bold)

    The goal of the discussion section is to interpret your findings and place them in the broader context of the literature in the area. A discussion section is like the reverse of the introduction, in that you begin with the specifics and work toward the more general (funnel out). Some points to consider:

    • Begin with a brief restatement of your main findings (using words, not numbers). Did they support the hypothesis or not? If not, why not, do you think? Were there any surprising or interesting findings? How do your findings tie into the existing literature on the topic, or extend previous research? What do the results say about the broader behavior under investigation? Bring back some of the literature you discussed in the Introduction, and show how your results fit in (or don’t fit in, as the case may be). If you have surprising findings, you might discuss other theories that can help to explain the findings. Begin with the assumption that your results are valid, and explain why they might differ from others in the literature.
    • What are the limitations of the study? If your findings differ from those of other researchers, or if you did not get statistically significant results, don’t spend pages and pages detailing what might have gone wrong with your study, but do provide one or two suggestions. Perhaps these could be incorporated into the future research section, below.
    • What additional questions were generated from this study? What further research should be conducted on the topic? What gaps are there in the current body of research? Whenever you present an idea for a future research study, be sure to explain why you think that particular study should be conducted. What new knowledge would be gained from it? Don’t just say, “I think it would be interesting to re-run the study on a different college campus” or “It would be better to run the study again with more participants.” Really put some thought into what extensions of the research might be interesting/informative, and why.
    • What are the theoretical and/or practical implications of your findings? How do these results relate to larger issues of human thoughts, feelings, and behavior? Give your readers “the big picture.” Try to answer the question, “So what?

    Final paragraph: Be sure to sum up your paper with a final concluding statement. Don’t just trail off with an idea for a future study. End on a positive note by reminding your reader why your study was important and what it added to the literature.

    References (labeled, centered, not bold)

    Provide an alphabetical listing of the references (alphabetize by last name of first author). Double-space all, with no extra spaces between references. The second line of each reference should be indented (this is called a hanging indent and is easily accomplished using the ruler in Microsoft Word). See the APA manual for how to format references correctly.

    Examples of references to journal articles start on p. 198 of the manual, and examples of references to books and book chapters start on pp. 202. Digital object identifiers (DOIs) are now included for electronic sources (see pp. 187-192 of APA manual to learn more).

    Journal article example:
    [Note that only the first letter of the first word of the article title is capitalized; the journal name and volume are italicized. If the journal name had multiple words, each of the major words would be capitalized.]

    Ebner-Priemer, U. W., & Trull, T. J. (2009). Ecological momentary assessment of mood disorders and mood dysregulation. Psychological Assessment, 21, 463-475. doi:10.1037/a0017075

    Book chapter example:
    [Note that only the first letter of the first word of both the chapter title and book title are capitalized.]

    Stephan, W. G. (1985). Intergroup relations. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (3 rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 599-658). New York: Random House.

    Book example:
    Gray, P. (2010). Psychology (6 th ed.). New York: Worth

    There are various formats for tables, depending upon the information you wish to include. See the APA manual. Be sure to provide a table number and table title (the latter is italicized). Tables can be single or double-spaced.

    If you have more than one figure, each one gets its own page. Use a sans serif font, such as Helvetica, for any text within your figure. Be sure to label your x- and y-axes clearly, and make sure you’ve noted the units of measurement of the DV. Underneath the figure provide a label and brief caption (e.g., “Figure 1. Mean evaluation of job applicant qualifications as a function of applicant attractiveness level”). The figure caption typically includes the IVs/predictor variables and the DV. Include error bars in your bar graphs, and note what the bars represent in the figure caption: Error bars represent one standard error above and below the mean.

    In-Text Citations:
    (see pp. 174-179 of APA manual)
    When citing sources in your paper, you need to include the authors’ names and publication date.

    You should use the following formats:

    • When including the citation as part of the sentence, use AND: “According to Jones and Smith (2003), the…”
    • When the citation appears in parentheses, use “&”: “Studies have shown that priming can affect actual motor behavior (Jones & Smith, 2003; Klein, Bailey, & Hammer, 1999).” The studies appearing in parentheses should be ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name, and should be separated by semicolons.
    • If you are quoting directly (which you should avoid), you also need to include the page number.
    • For sources with three or more authors, once you have listed all the authors’ names, you may write “et al.” on subsequent mentions. For example: “Klein et al. (1999) found that….” For sources with two authors, both authors must be included every time the source is cited. When a source has six or more authors, the first author’s last name and “et al.” are used every time the source is cited (including the first time).
    Secondary Sources

    “Secondary source” is the term used to describe material that is cited in another source. If in his article entitled “Behavioral Study of Obedience” (1963), Stanley Milgram makes reference to the ideas of Snow (presented above), Snow (1961) is the primary source, and Milgram (1963) is the secondary source.

    Try to avoid using secondary sources in your papers; in other words, try to find the primary source and read it before citing it in your own work. If you must use a secondary source, however, you should cite it in the following way:

    Snow (as cited in Milgram, 1963) argued that, historically, the cause of most criminal acts.
    The reference for the Milgram article (but not the Snow reference) should then appear in the reference list at the end of your paper.

    Sample Papers

    This page contains sample papers formatted in seventh edition APA Style. The sample papers show the format that authors should use to submit a manuscript for publication in a professional journal and that students should use to submit a paper to an instructor for a course assignment. You can download the Word files to use as templates and edit them as needed for the purposes of your own papers.

    Most guidelines in the Publication Manual apply to both professional manuscripts and student papers. However, there are specific guidelines for professional papers versus student papers, including professional and student title page formats. All authors should check with the person or entity to whom they are submitting their paper (e.g., publisher or instructor) for guidelines that are different from or in addition to those specified by APA Style.

    Sample papers from the Publication Manual

    The following two sample papers were published in annotated form in the Publication Manual and are reproduced here as PDFs for your ease of use. The annotations draw attention to content and formatting and provide the relevant sections of the Publication Manual (7th ed.) to consult for more information.

    We also offer these sample papers in Microsoft Word (.docx) format with the annotations as comments to the text.

    Finally, we offer these sample papers in Microsoft Word (.docx) format without the annotations.

    Sample professional paper templates by paper type

    These sample papers demonstrate APA Style formatting standards for different professional paper types. Professional papers can contain many different elements depending on the nature of the work. Authors seeking publication should refer to the journal’s instructions for authors or manuscript submission guidelines for specific requirements and/or sections to include.

    Sample papers are covered in Chapter 2 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

    This guidance is new to the 7th edition.

    Related handouts

    Other instructional aids

    Sample student paper templates by paper type

    These sample papers demonstrate APA Style formatting standards for different student paper types. Students may write the same types of papers as professional authors (e.g., quantitative studies, literature reviews) or other types of papers for course assignments (e.g., reaction or response papers, discussion posts), dissertations, and theses.

    APA does not set formal requirements for the nature or contents of an APA Style student paper. Students should follow the guidelines and requirements of their instructor, department, and/or institution when writing papers. For instance, an abstract and keywords are not required for APA Style student papers, although an instructor may request them in student papers that are longer or more complex. Specific questions about a paper being written for a course assignment should be directed to the instructor or institution assigning the paper.

    Sample papers in real life

    Although published articles differ in format from manuscripts submitted for publication or student papers (e.g., different line spacing, font, margins, and column format), articles published in APA journals provide excellent demonstrations of APA Style in action.

    APA journals began publishing papers in seventh edition APA Style in 2020. Professional authors should check the author submission guidelines for the journal to which they want to submit their paper for any journal-specific style requirements.

    Credits for sample professional paper templates

    Quantitative professional paper template: Adapted from “Fake News, Fast and Slow: Deliberation Reduces Belief in False (but Not True) News Headlines,” by B. Bago, D. G. Rand, and G. Pennycook, 2020, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 149(8), pp. 1608–1613 (https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000729). Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.

    Qualitative professional paper template: Adapted from “‘My Smartphone Is an Extension of Myself’: A Holistic Qualitative Exploration of the Impact of Using a Smartphone,” by L. J. Harkin and D. Kuss, 2020, Psychology of Popular Media, 10(1), pp. 28–38 (https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000278). Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.

    Mixed methods professional paper template: Adapted from “‘I Am a Change Agent’: A Mixed Methods Analysis of Students’ Social Justice Value Orientation in an Undergraduate Community Psychology Course,” by D. X. Henderson, A. T. Majors, and M. Wright, 2019, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 7(1), 68–80. (https://doi.org/10.1037/stl0000171). Copyright 2019 by the American Psychological Association.

    Literature review professional paper template: Adapted from “Rethinking Emotions in the Context of Infants’ Prosocial Behavior: The Role of Interest and Positive Emotions,” by S. I. Hammond and J. K. Drummond, 2019, Developmental Psychology, 55(9), pp. 1882–1888 (https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000685). Copyright 2019 by the American Psychological Association.

    Review professional paper template: Adapted from “Joining the Conversation: Teaching Students to Think and Communicate Like Scholars,” by E. L. Parks, 2022, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 8(1), pp. 70–78 (https://doi.org/10.1037/stl0000193). Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.

    Credits for sample student paper templates

    These papers came from real students who gave their permission to have them edited and posted by APA.

    Research Paper Format | APA, MLA, & Chicago Templates

    Published on November 19, 2020 by Jack Caulfield. Revised on June 16, 2022.

    The formatting of a research paper is different depending on which style guide you’re following. In addition to citations, APA, MLA, and Chicago provide format guidelines for things like font choices, page layout, format of headings and the format of the reference page.

    Scribbr offers free Microsoft Word templates for the most common formats. Simply download and get started on your paper.

    Tip If you struggle with the format of your paper, you could use Scribbr’s APA Paper Formatting service or Customized Formatting service. Our formatting experts can:

    • Generate an automatic table of contents
    • Generate a list of tables and figures
    • Ensure consistent paragraph formatting
    • Insert page numbering

    Table of contents

    1. Formatting an APA paper
    2. Formatting an MLA paper
    3. Formatting a Chicago paper
    4. Frequently asked questions about research paper formatting

    Formatting an APA paper

    The main guidelines for formatting a paper in APA Style are as follows:

    • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial.
    • Set 1 inch page margins.
    • Apply double line spacing.
    • If submitting for publication, insert a running head on every page.
    • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch.

    Watch the video below for a quick guide to setting up the format in Google Docs.

    Title page

    The image below shows how to format an APA Style title page for a student paper.

    APA title page - student version (7th edition)

    Running head

    If you are submitting a paper for publication, APA requires you to include a running head on each page. The image below shows you how this should be formatted.

    APA running head (7th edition)

    For student papers, no running head is required unless you have been instructed to include one.


    APA provides guidelines for formatting up to five levels of heading within your paper. Level 1 headings are the most general, level 5 the most specific.

    APA headings (7th edition)

    Reference page

    APA Style citation requires (author-date) APA in-text citations throughout the text and a reference page at the end. The image below shows how the reference page should be formatted.

    APA reference page (7th edition)

    Note that the format of reference entries is different depending on the source type. You can easily create your citations and reference list using the free APA Citation Generator.

    Formatting an MLA paper

    The main guidelines for writing an MLA style paper are as follows:

    • Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman.
    • Set 1 inch page margins.
    • Apply double line spacing.
    • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch.
    • Use title case capitalization for headings.

    Check out the video below to see how to set up the format in Google Docs.

    First page

    On the first page of an MLA paper, a heading appears above your title, featuring some key information:

    • Your full name
    • Your instructor’s or supervisor’s name
    • The course name or number
    • The due date of the assignment

    MLA heading

    Page header

    A header appears at the top of each page in your paper, including your surname and the page number.

    MLA page header

    Works Cited page

    MLA in-text citations appear wherever you refer to a source in your text. The Works Cited page appears at the end of your text, listing all the sources used. It is formatted as shown below.

    The format of the MLA Works Cited page

    You can easily create your MLA citations and save your Works Cited list with the free MLA Citation Generator.

    How to Write a Research Paper in APA Format – A Complete Guide

    APA research paper format

    Completed your research experiments and collated your results? Does it feel like you have crossed a major hurdle in your research journey? No, not even close! What lies next is — publishing your research work for it to reach the science world! The process of publishing a research paper is so intricate, if you miss one aspect, you could end up struggling with revisions and reworks or getting a rejection! Thus, there is a necessity of following an exceptional mode of writing. The APA style research format comes to a researcher’s rescue.

    This article discusses how to effortlessly write an APA style research paper and how it is necessary to understand the basic elements of APA style research paper in order to write an article in APA style research format.

    Table of Contents

    What Is APA Style?

    The APA format is the official style of American Psychological Association (APA) and is commonly used to cite sources in psychology, education and social sciences. APA research paper format is widely used in the research publishing industry.

    Students and researchers usually get confused with various research paper writing formats and are unclear about the requirements from the research publication journals. Therefore, the best way to deal with beginning to write a research paper is to first know the journal’s requirement and then follow the guidelines accordingly.

    Though the reference section may change over the course of time, the information related to the other sections in APA research paper format is similar and could be referred to, for writing an exemplary research paper.

    Guidelines for APA Style Paper (7th edition)

    An APA style research format is different as compared to a term paper, a creative writing paper, a composition-style paper, or a thought paper. Throughout the paper you need to apply these guidelines while writing the paper –

    Page Layout:

    Type the content and keep double-space on standard-sized paper (8.5” x 11”), with 1” margins on all sides.

    You should indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches

    Include a page number on every page.

    You could use an accessible font like Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.

    APA Research Paper Sections

    The APA research paper format is based on seven main components: title page, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references. The sections in APA-style paper are as follows:

    1. Title Page

    As per the APA research paper format, the title should be between 10-12 words and should reflect the essence of the paper. After writing the title, write your name followed by name of the college. Furthermore, create a page header using the “View Header” function in MS Word and on the title page include a running head — a short title that appears at the top of pages of published articles (flush left) and page number on the same line (flush right). The running head should not exceed 50 characters, including punctuation and spacing. Moreover, you could use the toolbox to insert a page number, so that it automatically numbers each page.

    APA research paper format

    APA Style – Student Paper in APA 7 Style

    2. Abstract

    Abstract should contain no more than 120 words, and should be one paragraph written in block format with double spacing. Additionally, state the topic in a sentence or two. Also, provide overview of methods, results, and discussion.

    APA research paper format

    3. Introduction

    An introduction of APA research paper format is the most difficult section to write. A good introduction critically evaluates the empirical knowledge in the relevant area(s) in a way that defines the knowledge gap and expresses your aim for your study and why you conducted it. However, the challenge here is to keep the reader’s interest in reading your paper.

    A good introduction keeps readers engaged with your paper. For writing an interesting introduction, researchers should introduce logical flow of ideas which will eventually lead to the research hypothesis. Furthermore, while incorporating references into your introduction, do not describe every single study in complete detail. Summarize the key findings from the article and do not quote from the articles, instead paraphrase the content.

    4. Methods

    The method section in APA research paper format is straightforward. However, the protocol and requirements should be mentioned precisely. The goal of this section is to describe your study and experiments in detail, so that there is no issue in reproducibility of results and other researchers could duplicate your methods effectively.

    This section includes Materials and/or Apparatus and Experiments/Procedures/Protocols. Furthermore, keep the procedures brief and accurate, and make sure to read through so as to not repeat the steps or avoid redundancy.

    5. Results

    In this section, you could describe how you analyzed the data and explain your findings. If your data analyses are complex, then break the section into subsections, ideally a subsection for each hypothesis and elaborate the subsections by using statistical analysis and including tables or figures to represent results visually. Most importantly, do not share interpretation of the results here. You can interpret and explain the results in the discussion section.

    6. Discussion

    Results are interpreted and understood in this section. Discussion section helps understand the research hypothesis better and places the results in the broader context of the literature in the area. This section is the reversal of introduction section, wherein you begin with the specifics and explain the general understanding of the topics.

    In discussion, you start with a brief of your main findings, followed by explaining if your research findings support your hypothesis. Furthermore, you could explain how your findings enhance or support the existing literature on the topic. Connect your results with some of the literature mentioned in the introduction to bring your story back to full circle. You could also mention if there are any interesting or surprising findings in your results. Discuss other theories which could help you justify your surprising results.

    Explain the limitation of your study and mention all the additional questions that were generated from your study. You could also mention what further research should be conducted on the topic and what are the knowledge gaps in the current body of research. Finally, mention how your results could relate to the larger issues of human existence and highlight “the big picture” for your readers.

    7. References

    Provide an alphabetical listing of the references. Do not keep extra spaces between references and double-space all the references. The second line of each reference should be intended. You could refer to the examples (mentioned below) to know how to format references correctly.

    I. Journal Article:

    Only first letter of the first word of the article title is capitalized; the journal name and volume are italicized. If the journal name had multiple words, each of the major words are capitalized.

    Example: Ebner-Priemer, U. W., & Trull, T. J. (2009). Ecological momentary assessment of mood disorders and mood dysregulation. Psychological Assessment, 21 , 463-475. doi:10.1037/a0017075

    II. Book Chapter:

    Only the first letter of the first word of both the chapter title and book title are capitalized.

    Example: Stephan, W. G. (1985). Intergroup relations. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 599-658). New York: Random House.

    III. Book:

    Example: Gray, P. (2010). Psychology (6th ed.). New York: Worth

    IV. Table:

    There are various formats for tables, depending upon the information you wish to include. So, be thorough and provide a table number and title (the latter should be italicized). Tables can be single or double-spaced.

    V. Figure:

    Be sure to mention x- and y-axes clearly. Underneath the figure provide a label and brief caption. The figure caption typically includes variables and units of measurements. Also, include error bars in your bar graphs, and note what the bars represent in the figure caption – Error bars represent one standard error above and below the mean.

    VI. In-Text Citation:

    1. Mention the authors’ names and publication date while citing sources in your paper.
    2. When including the citation as part of the sentence, use AND: “According to Jones and Smith (2003), the…”
    3. When the citation is written in parentheses, use &: “Studies have shown that priming can affect actual motor behavior (Jones & Smith, 2003; Kiley, Bailey, & Hammer, 1999). The studies in parentheses should appear alphabetically by first author’s last name, and separate it with semicolons.
    4. You should avoid quoting directly, but in case you do – along with the name and date, include the page number.
    5. For sources with three or more authors, once you have listed all the authors’ names, you may write “et al.” on subsequent mentions: “Klein et al. (1999) found that…”.
    6. Meanwhile, when source has six or more authors, the first author’s last name and “et al.” are used every time the source is cited.

    VII. Secondary Source:

    It is a term used to describe material that is cited in another source. Avoid using secondary sources in your papers. Try to find the primary source and read it before citing in your work. However, if you must mention a secondary source, refer to the APA style paper example below:

    Primary source author’s last name (as cited in secondary source author’s last name, year) argued that…

    7 Tips for Writing an Error-free APA Style Research Paper

    APA research paper format

    1. Although there are exceptions, minimize using first person while writing.
    2. Avoid including personal statements or anecdotes.
    3. Although there are exceptions, use past tense while writing.
    4. Do not use contractions. (e.g., “it does not follow” rather than “it doesn’t follow”)
    5. Avoid biased language – Be updated with appropriate terminologies, especially if you are writing a paper that includes gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.
    6. Be certain to cite your sources.
    7. Try to paraphrase as much as possible, and do not directly quote from source articles.

    This article contains only a few aspects of an APA research paper format. There are many APA style rules which can be explored before you begin to write an APA style research paper. Many of the APA research paper format rules are dynamic and subject to change, so it is best to refer to 7 th edition (latest) of the APA Publication Manual and be thorough with every section’s format before writing a research paper.

    Have you used an APA research paper format to write your article? Do write to us or comment below and tell us how your experience writing an APA style paper was?

    Shrutika Sirisilla is a content expert with 2 years of experience in academic research. Previously, she has worked as a content writer and created reader friendly scientific content for a reputed diagnostic company and contributed in the publishing process of its healthcare magazines. She has also worked as a linguistic specialist and is certified with C1 Advanced English Language. As an academic, she pursued research in the field of stem cell. Her research expertise also includes developmental biology, molecular biology, cellular biology, and genetics. Currently, she is dedicated toward creating scientific content for early career professionals in the STEM industry.

    APA research paper format

    The Parts of an APA Research Paper
    There are three major parts to any APA Research Paper: the Title Page, the Body, and the Reference Page. There can be other optional parts as well: Abstract, Table of Contents, and Appendices. In addition to these three parts, there are a few basic “over-arching” rules that are universal for the entire paper.

    Universal Rules

    1. All margins should be 1 inch.
    A margin is the amount of space between the edge of the paper and where the text starts. Luckily, this is the default for Microsoft Word, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it too much.

    2. Font, Font-size, and Spacing
    According to the APA 6th Edition Manual Section 8.03, APA’s preferred standard font is Times New Roman at 12 points. A serif-ed font (one with the lines at the ends of the letters) are better for reading. PERRLA uses Times New Roman throughout its papers because of this reason.
    Lines in the paper’s body should be double-spaced with a first-line indent of .5 inches. Indentation is not used in figures, tables, and captions.

    3. There should be a Running Head on each page.
    This is confusing because APA requires the Running Head to be different on the first page from all of the following pages. On every page, the Running Head should be in all capital letters and no longer than 50 characters, including spaces. However, on the first page, the Running Head should be preceded with: “RUNNING HEAD:”. On subsequent pages, “RUNNING HEAD:” is left off.

    4. Number the pages starting on the first page.
    Each page of the paper should be numbered from the very first page (almost always a Title Page). The numbers should not be inserted manually and should not include any identifying information such as your name; just the number

    Title Page

    The Title page is the first page of your Paper and has the identifying information for the paper. It’s also the page where you see the full Running Head as described above.
    The Title page must include three pieces of information (and any optional information your professor asks for).

    This information should be center-aligned and appear in the top half of the page. Include any of the optional information your professor requests beneath these (class, date, professor name, etc.).

    Paper Body

    The Paper body is the second major part of an APA Research Paper. However, if you add an Abstract or Table of Contents, they would come between the Title Page and the Paper’s Body.
    In addition to following all of the universal APA rules, the body starts with the Title of the Paper, centered, at the top of the page.
    On the next line, start the body of your paper with the proper font, size, indentation, and spacing.
    The body of the paper is where you make your argument and lay out your ideas. This is where you will include any research you have done – citing it whenever appropriate. You can also include Tables, Figures, and other information in your Paper’s body to support your arguments.

    Reference Page

    The Reference page is the last required APA Research Paper section. It can be optionally followed by any Appendices.
    The Reference page always starts with “References”, centered on the first line of the page.
    It is then followed by a list of the References that you cited in your paper. If you researched a Reference but didn’t use it in your paper, it shouldn’t be listed on the References page.
    References should be listed in alphabetical order from A to Z. Any References starting with numbers instead of letters should be alphabetized as though they were spelled out.
    References should also have a hanging indent. You can think of this as the opposite to the Paper’s Body indentation. Instead of indenting the first line of a paragraph (Reference), you will leave the first line alone and indent every following line after it. So it looks like the first line is hanging over the rest of the paragraph.

    How to Write a Paper in APA Format

    Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

    Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more.

    Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.

    College student typing on laptop at outdoor table

    The APA format is a set of citation and formatting guidelines developed by the American Psychological Association, or APA. These guidelines are documented in the “Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association” and are used by students and professionals in a variety of disciplines, including business, economics, nursing, and, of course, psychology.

    The publication manual provides writers with a consistent formula for acknowledging the works of others. It also provides fairly comprehensive guidelines for how to order, structure, and format a paper, as well as practical writing and grammar tips.

    If you’ve never written an APA paper before, the formatting rules and guidelines can seem daunting and difficult at first. You might be used to writing papers in another format such as MLA or Chicago style, so it might take some time to get the hang of writing in APA format. Familiarizing yourself with some of the basics is a great place to start.

    APA Format Guidelines

    Although your instructor, institution, or publisher may have other specific formatting requirements for you to follow, there are some general guidelines you should know. These include:

    • Paper size: Use standard, white, 8.5 x 11–inch paper.
    • Margins: Set page margins to 1-inch on all sides.
    • Line spacing: Type and double-space your paper. Do not add extra space before or after paragraphs.
    • Font: A variety of accessible fonts are allowed. Acceptable choices include sans serif fonts (such as 11-point Calibri and 11-point Arial) and serif fonts (such as 12-point Times New Roman).
    • Page header: The page header appears within the top margin of every page of the paper. For student papers, the page header only consists of the page number, which is located in the top right corner of each page. Professional paper headers consist of the page number and running head (top left corner).

    The seventh edition of the APA publication manual was published in October of 2019. In addition to following any specific requirements of a publisher or instructor, you should always consult the latest edition of the publication manual if you have any questions about formatting or style.

    Sections of an APA Format Paper

    The exact structure of your paper will vary somewhat depending upon the type of paper you have been asked to write. For example, a lab report might be structured a bit differently than a case study or critique paper. Sometimes submitting a manuscript for publication in a journal can be even more complex because each study type and journal has its own format you must adhere to.

    But no matter what type of APA paper you are writing, you should include four key sections: a title page, an abstract, the main body of the paper, and a reference section.

    Title Page

    The title page is the cover page of your APA format paper. As its name suggests, the goal of the title page is to present the title. This is where you can inform and engage your reader without being too wordy.

    The title page should include the following components:

    • Title of the paper
    • Names of all authors
    • Institutional affiliations
    • Author’s note and running head (for professional papers only)
    • Course number and name, instructor name, and assignment due date (for student papers only)


    The abstract is a brief (around 150 to 250 words) but comprehensive summary of your paper. This summary helps your reader decide whether it is worth their time to read the rest of the paper.

    An APA abstract is found on its own page, directly after the title page. It usually includes the following major aspects of your paper:

    • The overall purpose of your paper
    • Clearly stated hypotheses
    • Information regarding the method and participants
    • Main findings
    • Conclusions
    • Implications/significance of your findings

    Most professional papers that are submitted for publication require an abstract, but abstracts are usually not required for student papers. If you are not sure, please ask your instructor if an abstract is required for your paper.

    The exact format of this section can vary depending upon the type of paper you are writing. For example, if you are writing a lab report, the main body will include an introduction, a method section, a results section, and a discussion section.

    Check with your instructor or publication guidelines for more specific information on what to include in the main body of your APA paper.


    The reference section is where you provide detailed information about all the references you used throughout your paper. This section should begin on a new page, with the word “References” centered at the very top of the page.

    • The first line of each reference should be flush left, with additional lines of the reference indented.
    • All references should be double-spaced.
    • All references should be listed alphabetically by the last name of the first author.
    • Any books or materials written by the same author(s) should be listed in chronological order from oldest to most recent
    • Use whatever capitalization and punctuation is used by the source, even if not “standard.”
    • Book titles and journal titles should be italicized.

    According to the “Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association,” if there is a citation in the body of the paper, it must also appear in the reference list and vice versa.

    While writing an APA paper may seem difficult or confusing, start by breaking it down into more manageable steps.

    • Preparation: Begin by doing your research. As you begin researching your topic, creating an outline and a working bibliography can help you structure your paper and keep track of all of the references you use.
    • Abstract: It may be tempting to start by writing your abstract because it is short and appears in the first section of your paper. However, it should be written last so that it accurately summarizes the paper. Only write the abstract section of your paper after you are completely finished writing your paper.
    • Body: As a general rule, use the past tense (e.g., “was,” “stated”) or past perfect or present perfect tense (e.g., “had been,” “have shown”) throughout an empirical research paper. Also, do not use contractions (e.g., “it does not follow” rather than “it doesn’t follow”).
    • References: Be sure to keep a careful record of all your references. Using a citation tool is a great way to manage, organize, and correctly cite your references.
    • Edit: Review your finished APA paper to ensure that your language, citations, and formatting are correct.

    If you need additional help with APA format, consider purchasing your own copy of the APA publication manual.

    APA format has changed over the years, so there are different iterations found in earlier editions of the official publication manual. While online sites can offer helpful tips, always consult the most recent version of the publication manual if you have questions.


    The APA also offers accessibility guidelines for students who need accommodations for a disability. This includes changes to aspects of a paper including typography, headings, URLs, and the use of color.

    A Word From Verywell

    Writing your first APA format paper can be a little intimidating, but learning some of the basic rules of APA style can help. Always remember, however, to consult the directions provided by your instructor or publication.

Leave a Reply