Caleb S.
Caleb S.

APA Format - A Complete Guide With Examples

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Published on: Apr 24, 2018

Last updated on: Dec 28, 2022

APA Format

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APA style paper is the most common style of formatting, other than MLA. Different citation styles have different formats and rules that the student must follow when formatting the paper in that particular style. However, APA still remains the most popular citation style.

Mostly, teachers refer to this style guide due to its simplicity and because it is easy to follow. It makes the entire work easy to follow and manageable. And this is the reason why teachers stress so much on correct formatting and paper formation.

Continue reading this blog to learn about the APA format's mechanics and how to structure your paper according to it.

What Is APA Format?

What does the APA format mean?

APA (American Psychological Association) is a common formatting style for many student papers and essays. The APA has a specific citation and reference style used by many people in different fields, such as psychology, economics, business, and social sciences.

This format was first developed in 1929 to create a set way for researchers to document their sources.

When you write an essay or a paper, your main goal should be to engage the readers and present the facts and information in a way that is easy to understand. In order to do this, you should be familiar with the APA format.

How to Format an APA Style Paper?

Essay writing and other assignments are always exciting to attempt. For some students, the formatting style remains the devil as it is difficult to master the formatting style and remember everything. Just like the MLA style format is used by humanities and social sciences, APA is used by somewhat technical types of subjects.

Below is the distinct category of essays that may require APA formatting are listed below:

  • Business
  • Psychology
  • Economics
  • Linguistics
  • Sociology
  • Nursing
  • Criminology

All of these subjects involve both theory and calculable material.

APA formatting is entirely different from other formatting styles. From layout to the entire paper structure, the APA format is different and when writing in this format, you need to take care of a lot of things.

As a student, you may encounter different kinds of papers and essays like research papersthesis, and dissertations, also known as experiment reports. No matter what kind of work it is, you will need to add the following details to your paper.

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Figures or Tables (if required)

These ingredients are a fundamental part of APA papers and essays. Let’s discuss them in detail in the below section.

APA Format Title Page

As the first part of the paper, the title page should be perfect and as per the chosen formatting style, in this case, the APA style. It is believed that the first impression is the last impression, and if there is some mistake in the structure of the APA format title page, the reader will not have a good first impression.

Since your audience is your teacher, he will not be happy to see such mistakes. To format your title page, read the following instructions.

  1. With 1 margin on each side, your paper must be double spaced.
  2. Font size should be 12, and Times New Roman font is recommended.

Type the title in the title case; each word should begin with a capital letter, centered and on the upper side of the page. As per the APA suggestion, the title shouldn’t exceed 12 words.

Make sure that the text of your paper has double spacing, so it is easier for the reader to go through the content without getting confused.

APA style title page

APA Format 7th Edition

The 7th edition of the APA format has introduced some prominent changes from the 6th edition. The title page must include;

  1. Full name of the author (s)
  2. Name of the educational institute
  3. Course name and code
  4. Name of the course instructor
  5. Due date of the paper
  6. A header with the page number

For more details, refer to the sample below:

APA Format Header

A header is a must on the top of the page. The running head serves as a shorter version of the title and this is why it must not exceed two to three words. To format it, add the page number and title of the paper.

APA Format Headings

Different format styles have different headings structures. For APA, you will follow the below heading structure:

1st Level: Centered, Bold and Title Case
2nd Level: Bold, Title Case, Flush Left
3rd Level: Bold, Italic, Title Case, Flush Left
4th Level: Bold, Title Case, Indented, Ending with a Period.
5th Level: Bold, Italic, Title Case, Indented, Ending with a Period.

All of the papers and essays written in APA style have the following main headings:

  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Main Body
  • References

The levels of the headings mentioned above are structured within the main headings. These headings give your paper a proper structure and form, which makes it easy for the reader to read and understand the content of your work.

Margin sizes in APA Format

When it comes to margins, keep them the same on all four sides of the paper. The distance from the edge of the paper should be the same on all four sides. You should use at least one-inch margins around each side. It is acceptable to use larger margins, but they should never be smaller than an inch.

Abstract APA Format

An abstract is necessary for an APA paper. Without an abstract, APA style paper is incomplete. A good and effective abstract is brief, accurate, coherent, and informs the readers about the main essay or paper topic and idea. It gives the readers an idea of what to expect in the coming paper sections.

The abstract is usually a 150-200 words section. The abstract is written on a separate page and added after the cover page and before the introduction.

APA Format Citation

A citation is a reference to the used source material in the paper. The In-text is the reference that is added within the content and it is followed by a full citation in the references list. Different referencing and paper styles have different citation formats and styles.

Similarly, APA also has a different and its own citation format that is to be followed in the paper. The author-date method of in-text citations is the primary technique used while making your APA paper’s in-text citations.

APA Format In-Text Citation

In-text citations and references go hand in hand. Mention the complete references of the cited sources in the references section.

Two things must appear in the text:

  • Author’s last name
  • Year of publication

Example: (Andy, 2017)

APA Format Quotes

Adding relevant and credible quotes and paraphrased content strengthens the quality of your paper. However, you should use them to support and prove your research points and not the other way around.

When quoting directly from a source, include the year of publication, author name, and the page number.

Example: As per Adams (2017), “Students face difficulty when they cite in APA format in their essays and research papers” (p. 200).

What if a source has multiple authors? Name both of them in parenthesis or a single phrase and use ‘and’ between names.

Example: (George and Andrew, 2017)

What if multiple writers exist? Shall I name all the writers in the parenthesis? No, you do not need to mention all the writers. Instead of mentioning all the names, just mention the first name and add ‘et al’.

(Andy et a.l., 2017)

Since referencing and adding citations is somewhat difficult, many students try to escape it. But, to prevent plagiarism and to credit the original sources and writers, it is important that you add them. Here, you can learn to format your paper properly.

How to cite a source where the author(s) name is not mentioned? In such cases, cite your sources by the title.

  • Italicize the title of the books.
  • Articles, chapters, and web pages are placed in quotation marks.

When the author is a government agency, cite as:

As per the American Association (2001)……

APA Format Website

Citing websites is the opposite of citing other sources. Mention the site’s address in the paper. The information about the author should be found on the web page. Search at the top or at the very bottom of the page.

Place the last name, follow it with a comma, and the date of publication.

Example: (Henriquez, 2018.)

APA Date Format

Mention as many dates as possible.

Correct APA date format is mandatory to be followed where available. Starting with the year, month, and day.

Example: (2018, October 8)

APA Format References

A reference list highlights the sources used for collecting information. It credits the authors whose works you have used and quoted to support your main topic.

Formatting the Reference Page

To make the correct APA format references, follow the below guidelines.

  1. Mention the heading ‘References’ on the top.
  2. Keep double space between the references.
  3. Remove the underlines from web addresses.
  4. Always arrange the list alphabetically.
  5. U.S. publishers offer cities and abbreviations for the state like New York, NY.
  6. Use a dash for page ranges. (20-38).

APA Format Journals

The referencing format is different for websites, books, articles, and journals. Each format follows a distinct set of rules.

APA references list for journal articles should include;

  • Author(s). The first initials follow the surname.
  • Year of publication
  • Title of the article.
  • Journal title (italics).
  • Journal’s volume (italics)
  • Issue number of the journal.
  • Page number
  • First lines are left adjusted, and subsequent lines are indented 5-7 spaces forming a hanging indent.

Example: Ruxton, C. (2016). Tea: Hydration and other health benefits. Primary Health Care, 26(8), 34-42.

APA Format Book

Citing information from books is a common practice in essays and research papers. However, the format is different for it. When citing a book, consider the following things.

  • Author(s). The first initials follow the surname.
  • Publishing year of the book.
  • Book title (Italics).
  • Place of publication.
  • Edition in round brackets (other than 1st edition).
  • Publisher.

Example: Arnold, G. D. (2018). The disability support worker social sciences (2nd edition.). South Melbourne, VIC: College Learning.

APA Format Tables and Figures

Does your task include making tables and figures? APA format reference page also supports citations for tables.

A strict checklist needs to be implemented while citing them. Keep the following checklist with you when doing it.

  • All figures and tables should be referenced in the main body of the text.
  • Put figures and tables in the same order as they appear in the text.
  • Each figure or table must be accompanied by a description of the contents.
  • If you are producing a figure or table from another source, cite it with a caption and add it to the reference list.
  • Don’t violate the privacy of others if the publisher has refrained from copying. Take permission.

APA Footnotes and Endnotes

Have you made endnotes and footnotes? They play a key role in every document. Unlike the Chicago style, the APA format does not include any endnotes or footnotes, but they are useful for understanding difficult terms and definitions.

Mention the footnotes at the end of the page in the word document. A number is placed in front of the text to refer to the footnote below.

APA Format Appendix

The appendix contains information that may sound too lengthy to be mentioned in the main text. It is written at the end of the paper, and it includes:

  • Detailed descriptions
  • Lengthy lists
  • A category of articles to support data
  • Demographic information for subpopulations studied in the paper

Multiple Appendices

Are you planning on writing multiple appendices? Some papers and works need multiple appendices. However, each appendix must focus on a single topic only. Label them with A, B, and so on.

A title is a must for each appendix. Start the 1st paragraph of text from the left margin and then indent the 1st line of successive paragraphs by ½ inch. Times New Roman (12 pt.) must be the font size and format, typed in double spaces.

Nevertheless, excluding the appendix section from the paper will never affect your paper.

APA Format Bibliography

In literal terms, annotated bibliographies offer a critical analysis of a source. It is a challenging task to write a well-detailed and effective bibliography.

How to write a bibliography in APA format? Divide it into the following sections and explain each part accordingly.

  1. Summarize the main idea of the source in 3-4 sentences.
    • Main arguments
    • Point of the article/ book
  2. sentences to evaluate and assess the source.
    • Comparison with other sources of bibliography
    • Reliability of the source
    • The credibility of the author
    • Discrimination or objectivity in the text
  3. sentences for personal reflection on the source.
    • Was the source helpful?
    • Has it changed your thinking?
    • The information added about the topic

Writing an annotated bibliography needs practice and skill since, mostly, teachers ask for it before the research paper. Learning about how to write an annotated bibliography will help you present the research sources in a better manner.

A Brief Formatting Checklist

Before submitting the paper, check it with the following checklist.

  • Introduction
  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Body
  • Full Reference
  • In-text Citations
  • Tables and figures
  • Appendix

We know that formatting can be tricky, and if you still feel confused, then do not worry; we have got you covered. Below is a sample to help you further.

APA Citation Generator

Citation tools have become very popular these days. Is it good to use them? Using a citation or reference generator is a quick way of generating references, but this does not mean that you should use them blindly.

Some common mistakes these generators could make are;

  • Not including all the details in the reference list.
  • Not mentioning the date.
  • Making a flawed structure of the format.

Nonetheless, these generators can ease the burden and get the work done in a matter of seconds. Just keep a check on the points mentioned above.

APA Format Examples

The following are just a few of the many great examples that our professional writers gathered for your help.

Tips For Writing in APA Format

To make sure you are using the right format, it is important to follow some tips that our expert writers recommend.

  • You should include the title page in your research paper.
  • The abstract page includes the page header.
  • Proper nouns are capitalized.
  • Summary of your paper should focus on the main idea.
  • At the end of the reference, after the words “Original Work Published” mention the year of original publication in the parentheses.
  • The title page only includes relevant information.

If you need professional help with your paper’s APA format, talk to one of the writers at Our professional essay writers are familiar with all the formats, and they will make sure to satisfy you in every way possible.

So, contact the best writing services now and get help from the APA formatting experts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between APA 6 and APA 7?

In APA 6, only the first seven authors were listed in the references list when a reference had more than seven authors. The other authors were listed as et al. However, APA 7 lists all authors up to 20. 

What is the current APA Style?

The 7th edition of the APA style guide, published in October 2019, is the most recent edition. 

Caleb S.


Caleb S. (Literature, Marketing)

Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.

Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.

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