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APA Formatting and Style Guide

This resource was written by David Neyhart and Erin Karper.
Last full revision by Jodi Wagner.
Last edited by Dana Lynn Driscoll on May 17th 2007 at 3:24PM

Summary: APA (American Psychological Association) is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 5th edition of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page.

Jump to listing of all of this resource's sections

General Format

General APA Guidelines

Your essay should be typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5 X 11 inches) with margins of 1 inch on all sides. Your final essay should include, in the order indicated below, as many of the following sections as are applicable, each of which should begin on a separate page:

Title page: includes a running head for publication, title, and byline and affiliation.

Simulated APA-style title page.

Image Caption: Sample APA title page; running head and page number in upper right-hand corner, definition of running head IN ALL CAPS, and vertically and horizontally centers the title of the paper, its author and her affiliation to the page.

Page numbers and running head: in the upper right-hand corner of each page, include a 1-2 word version of your title. Follow with five spaces and then the page number.

Abstract: If your instructor requires an abstract, write a 75-100 word overview of your essay, which should include your main idea and your major points. You also may want to mention any implications of your research. Place the abstract on its own page immediately after the title page. Center the word Abstract and then follow with the paragraph.

Headings: Although not absolutely necessary, headings can be helpful. For undergraduate papers, only one level of heading is necessary. Major headings should be centered. Capitalize every word in the heading except articles (a, the), short prepositions (in, by, for), and coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or).

Visuals: Visuals such as tables and figures include graphs, charts, drawings, and photographs. Try to keep the visuals as simple as possible and clearly label each visual with an Arabic numeral (ex: Table 1, Table 2, etc.) and include the title of the visual. The label and the title should appear on separate lines above the table, flush left. Below the table, provide the source. A sample Figure treatment is shown below.

A simulated APA-style page showing a figure and caption.

Image Caption: A sample figure and caption in APA style.

List of References: Create your list of references on its own page after the last page of your text. Center the title References one inch from the top of the page. Double space. Alphabetize the list of references by the last name of the authors. If the work has no author or editor, alphabetize the work by the first word of the title (excluding A, An, or The).

For more information about formatting an APA style paper, consult the publication manual, visit APA Style Essentials, or view a Sample APA Report or an APA Simulated Journal Article. Annotated bibliography writers might want to visit APA Format for Annotated Bibliographies. (Additional formatting resources, including Microsoft Word templates, are available in our Additional Resources section.)

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