How to Do APA Format for Beginners

by Michele Cooper

The American Psychological Association, or APA, offers a form of editorial style used in term papers, reviews, articles and reports, particularly in the social sciences. When writing or formatting a document, one may be asked to follow APA guidelines. These guidelines refer to overall document formatting, in-text citations and citations on a Reference Page. Knowing a few of the basic APA guidelines can help beginners when formatting a document.

Title Page

Per the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the APA, a formatted paper does not need a separate title page, unless specifically required. The title appears at the top of the page, centered, followed by the name of the author and name of the institutional affiliation below that. The first paragraph begins after a double space on the same page.

Paper Format

A paper written in APA style pays close attention to mechanical details and is typed using a legible, 12-point font, usually Times New Roman. The entire document is double-spaced and each paragraph is indented five spaces or by using the tab key. A running head or page header is included flush left on every page, giving the title of the paper in all capital letters and the page number is flush right on the same line.

In-Text Citations

Anytime sources or research is used in an APA formatted paper, an in-text citation is included. In-text citations can appear at the beginning, middle or end of a sentence or section and include the surname of the author and year of publication. Page numbers are added with direct quotations. For example, Smith (2011) claims that…. Smith claimed the research was inaccurate (2011). The research was inaccurate (Smith, 2011). Smith claimed, “The research was faulty on many levels” (2011, p12).

Reference Page

All sources used in the paper are listed alphabetically by last name of the author on the Reference Page. An article citation includes the last name and first initial of the author separated by a comma, with a period after the first initial. This is followed by the date of publication in parenthesis, period, title of article, period, title of journal in italics, period, volume number, space, issue number in parenthesis, followed by a colon, page numbers and period.

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