How to Write a Cover Letter in APA Style

When submitting a cover letter within the field of psychology you should follow APA guidelines.

If you are submitting a manuscript for publication or applying for a position in the field of psychology, you will want to include a cover letter that makes clear your intentions for your submission. You also will want to ensure that the cover letter format you submit is in keeping with American Psychological Association (APA) style guidelines.

  • APA style manual

1 Addressing Cover Letter

Address your cover letter by naming an exact recipient. Regardless of the intent of your cover letter, you should target one specific person. If necessary, research the organization to confirm the person to whom you are writing is the one who handles these types of inquiries. This small details shows you have a real interest in being involved in the organization and you are not simply sending out letters randomly. A cover letter determines the first impression the creator makes on a potential publisher, employer or adviser. Making sure that cover letter is specific to the audience and position is crucial.

2 Using Business Letter Format

Use a business letter format to continue writing the cover letter. Start with the date and follow the the name and contact information of the person to whom you are writing. Include a formal greeting such as “Dear Mr. Jones,” followed by a colon. Your letter should be flush left with one-inch margins on all sides of your document with a font larger than 12 points. Accepted font choices in APA style are Times, Arial or Calibri. This letter should be single-spaced with a space between each paragraph.

3 Body of the Cover Letter

Explain in the first sentence of the body of your letter why you are writing it. For example, if you are submitting an article for publication in a psychology journal, you could write, “I have enclosed a document for your review which explores the possible connection between diet and developmental disorders.” Throughout the body of your letter, show the person to whom you are writing how the organization will benefit from your involvement.

4 Contents of Included Package

Include specific information about the contents of the package you are sending. In a Purdue Owl cover letter description, the site suggests using sing a "story-like format" to describe your academic and professional background is one approach. APA format cover letters are used to add context to the materials being submitted. If you have enclosed a résumé, manuscript and photographs in your package, you will want to address what is being submitted and how they should be reviewed by the receiver.

5 Explaining APA Cover Letter Intent

Explain your intention for sending the cover letter and any other contents of the package. According to the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual, the APA cover letter is a rare exception in APA style guidelines allowing you to write from a first-person point of view. Detail in this section how you would like the reader to proceed after reviewing the package.

6 Conclusion of the Cover Letter

Close your APA cover letter by thanking the recipient for his time and consideration when reviewing your submission. Sign your name with blue or black ink at the bottom of the page above your typed name.

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.