How to Write an APA Research Paper
Psychology/neuroscience 201, v iew in pdf format.
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.
(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). Flush right, on same line: page number. Use the toolbox to insert a page number, so it will automatically number each page.
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
Table 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.
Figure 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 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.
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APA Sample Paper
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Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style can be found here .
Media Files: APA Sample Student Paper , APA Sample Professional Paper
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Note: The APA Publication Manual, 7 th Edition specifies different formatting conventions for student and professional papers (i.e., papers written for credit in a course and papers intended for scholarly publication). These differences mostly extend to the title page and running head. Crucially, citation practices do not differ between the two styles of paper.
However, for your convenience, we have provided two versions of our APA 7 sample paper below: one in student style and one in professional style.
Note: For accessibility purposes, we have used "Track Changes" to make comments along the margins of these samples. Those authored by [AF] denote explanations of formatting and [AWC] denote directions for writing and citing in APA 7.
APA 7 Student Paper:
Apa 7 professional paper:.
Consistency in the order, structure, and format of a paper allows readers to focus on a paper’s content rather than its presentation.
To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments.
The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create another kind of work (e.g., a website, conference poster, or PowerPoint presentation), you may need to format your work differently in order to optimize its presentation, for example, by using different line spacing and font sizes. Follow the guidelines of your institution or publisher to adapt APA Style formatting guidelines as needed.
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How to Write a Research Paper in APA Format — A Complete Guide
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 –
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.
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 Style – Abstract in APA Style
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
Example: Gray, P. (2010). Psychology (6th ed.). New York: Worth
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.
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:
- Mention the authors’ names and publication date while citing sources in your paper.
- When including the citation as part of the sentence, use AND: “According to Jones and Smith (2003), the…”
- 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.
- You should avoid quoting directly, but in case you do – along with the name and date, 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: “Klein et al. (1999) found that…”.
- 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
- Although there are exceptions, minimize using first person while writing.
- Avoid including personal statements or anecdotes.
- Although there are exceptions, use past tense while writing.
- Do not use contractions. (e.g., “it does not follow” rather than “it doesn’t follow”)
- Avoid biased language – Be updated with appropriate terminologies, especially if you are writing a paper that includes gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.
- Be certain to cite your sources.
- 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?
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How to Write a Research Paper in APA format
14 Apr 2022
✒️What is APA?
📑General Requirements for APA Format
Margin requirements, title page components, running heads, table of contents, reference page.
✍️Guides for Writing in APA Format
How to Use References in APA
Rules for abbreviations, how to use numbers in apa, rules for punctuation.
- Usage of Graphics 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 .
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General Requirements for APA Format
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
Besides the above-mentioned rules, APA 7th edition has introduced a few more guidelines on how to write a paper in proper APA format. In case a source contains more than 20 authors, the names of the authors after the 19th author should be replaced by an ellipsis followed by the name of the last author. Furthermore, entries that include DOI do not require the label “DOI:”. The phrase “Retrieved from” when citing online sources should only be used if the retrieval date is also stated. Writers must use the latest updates in the APA paper format to remain current with their formatting.
The APA in-text citations are used within the paper. The APA style utilizes the “author-date” method, that is, the author’s last name followed by a comma and then the year the source was published are written in parenthesis. An in-text citation is used when information from a source is paraphrased or directly quoted. In-text citations are imperative for properly crediting sources and avoiding plagiarism.
Know how to structure your paper
- 12-point Times New Roman
- 0" between paragraphs
- 1" margin all around
- double spaced (275 words/page) / single-spaced (550 words/page)
- 0.5" first line of a paragraph
PapersOwl editors can also format your paper according to your specific requirements.
In a research paper in APA format, abbreviations should be used sparingly. Excessive use of abbreviations can make the comprehension of the paper difficult for the reader, which is the opposite of what one aims to achieve when writing a research paper. If an abbreviation will be used less than three times in the paper, it is better to expand it each time. If abbreviations are to be used, periods are not required between each alphabet. For unfamiliar abbreviations, spell it out the first time it is used, and for abbreviations present in the dictionary, spell them out is not essential. For units of measurement, the abbreviation may be used when next to a number but should be spelled out if being used by itself. Abbreviations should be used judiciously in an APA-style research paper to ensure that they do not impede easy comprehension.
In APA, the golden rule for using numbers is to write out numbers less than 10 in text and leave numbers above as is, for example:
However, some exceptions apply such as number can be left as it is in tables, in case of measurements, when displaying a math equation, or when mentioning time and age. It is better to write numbers out in text when starting a sentence with a number, in the case of a fraction, or when using a commonly used phrase or word. Overall, the purpose of these guidelines when using numbers is to enhance comprehension and maintain consistency.
To see an example check an APA citation generator free by PapersOwl.
In APA style, general rules for punctuation are applicable. Writers should keep some pertinent guidelines in mind. One space is applicable after most punctuation marks. Moreover, the Oxford comma should be used in APA style format. No space should be placed after em dashes and no space should be applied on either side of an en dash. In most cases, the APA style follows universal punctuation and grammar rules.
Usage of Graphics (Photos, Tables, and Figures) in APA Format
Graphics in APA should be numbered according to how they appear in the paper. Additionally, the graphic should provide new information and not reinstate what has already been written. When using tables, the information should be:
12pt font and single or double-spaced.
The spacing should be consistent across all tables.
All headings should be centered and information should be left-aligned (indented if more than one line).
In the case of photographs, they should be black and white. Moreover, if adapted or reproduced information is used, it should be cited.
Formats such as APA serve as an essential element in the field of academia. A set of guidelines that are recognized worldwide relieves the effort required to format a paper for the authors and improves readability for readers. Furthermore, knowing how to start research paper amd how to format APA paper allows researchers to properly credit secondary sources to avoid plagiarism. The APA research paper guidelines are comprehensive and cover all parts of a research paper, ensuring that all papers follow a standard pattern, which improves consistency and predictability. You can always buy a research paper from our trustworthy writing service.
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APA Style (7th ed.)
- Cite: Why? When?
- Book, eBook, Dissertation
- Article or Report
- Business Sources
- In-Text Citation
- Format Your Paper
Format Your Paper
Download and use the editable templates for student papers below: .
- APA 7th ed. Template Document 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.
- APA 7th ed. Template Document A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly according to APA 7th edition.
- APA 7th ed. Annotated Bibliography template A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly for an annotated bibliography.
Or, view the directions for specific sections below:
Order of sections (section 2.17).
- Title page including Title, Author, University and Department, Class, Instructor, and Date
- Body (including introduction, literature review or background, discussion, and conclusion)
- 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)
- Times New Roman, 12 point
- Calibri, 11 point
- Arial, 11 point
- Lucinda Sans Unicode, 10 point
- Georgia, 11 point
- Double-space and align text to the left
- Use active voice
- Don't overuse technical jargon
- No periods after a web address or DOI in the References list.
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
- 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.
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.
- References should be centered and bolded at the top of a new page
- Double-space and use hanging indents (where the first line is on the left margin and the following lines are indented a half inch from the left)
- List authors' last name first followed by the first and middle initials (ex. Skinner, B. F.)
- Alphabetize the list by the first author's last name of of each citation (see sections 9.44-9.49)
- Capitalize only the first word, the first after a colon or em dash, and proper nouns
- Don't capitalize the second word of a hyphenated compound
- No quotation marks around titles of articles
Appendices with Tables, Figures, & Illustrations (section 2.14, and chapter 7)
- Include appendices only to help the reader understand, evaluate, or replicate the study or argument
- Put each appendix on a separate page and align left
- For text, do not indent the first paragraph, but do indent the rest
- If you have only one appendix, label it "Appendix"
- If you have two or more appendices, label them "Appendix A", "Appendix B" and so forth as they appear in the body of your paper
- Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1, or Table B1 and Table B2 if Appendix B has two tables) and describe them within the text of the appendix
- Notes go below tables and figures (see samples on p. 210-226)
Double-space the entire bibliography. give each entry a hanging indent. in the following annotation, indent the entire paragraph a half inch from the left margin and give the first line of each paragraph a half inch indent. see the template document at the top of this page..
- Check with your professor for the length of the annotation and which elements you should evaluate.
These elements are optional, if your professor or field requires them, but they are not required for student papers:
Abstract (section 2.9).
- Abstract gets its own page
- Center "Abstract" heading and do not indent the first line of the text
- Summarize the main points and purpose of the paper in 150-250 words maximum
- Define abbreviations and acronyms used in the paper
Running Head (section 2.8 )
- Shorten title to 50 characters or less (counting spaces and punctuation) for the running head
- In the top margin, the running head is aligned left, with the page number aligned on the right
- On every page, put (without the brackets): [SHORTENED TITLE OF YOUR PAPER IN ALL CAPS] [page number]
More questions? Check out the authoritative source: APA style blog
- << Previous: In-Text Citation
- Last Updated: Nov 23, 2022 12:53 PM
- URL: https://libguides.uww.edu/apa
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