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?
Frequently Asked Questions
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 stands for the American Psychological Association. It is a professional organization that focuses on the field of psychology and related disciplines.
Citing sources in APA format involves specific guidelines for different types of sources. In-text Citations: For a paraphrased or summarized idea from a source, include the author's last name and the publication year in parentheses. Example: (Smith, 2021) Reference List Entry for a 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
The APA (American Psychological Association) style is primarily used by researchers, scholars, and students in the social sciences, including psychology, sociology, education, and related fields. However, the APA style is not limited to these disciplines and is also used in other academic and scientific fields when writing research papers or scholarly articles.
As per the 7th edition of APA citation (published in 2020), the last name and first/middle initials for all authors (up to first 20 authors) are mentioned in the bibliography. If there are 21 or more authors, an ellipsis (but no ampersand) is used after the 19th author, and then the final author’s name is added. Generic format: Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Journal, Volume # (issue number), Pages. https://doi.org/xx.xxx/yyyy 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
When quoting in APA format, you need to properly incorporate and cite direct quotations from sources. Introduce the Quote: Begin with a signal phrase or an introductory statement to lead into the quote. This helps provide context and relevance for the quotation. Provide In-text Citation: Immediately after the closing quotation mark, include an in-text citation that provides the author's last name, publication year, and, if applicable, page number(s) of the quoted material. Example: (Smith, 2021, p. 25) Cite the Source in the Reference List: Include a corresponding entry in the reference list for the source you are quoting. The format for the reference list entry depends on the type of source being quoted (e.g., book, journal article, website).
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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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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. 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 a custom research paper according to all APA formatting rules.
APA style papers 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 readers' comprehension as its consistency allows them to focus on the paper's contents 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 papers well-organized and easy to read.
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What is APA?
A set of guidelines when writing a piece of literature makes the organization of arguments easier and 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 the 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, 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 the 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 instructor's name, and the assignment's due date. 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. Like the rest of the paper, the title page should be double-spaced. In a professional paper, the title should be followed by the institutional affiliation with the research's location. 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. The header has the page number flush right in both types of papers.
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. The 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.
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A solid outline forms the foundation of a well-organized paper. An APA paper is divided into three parts: 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 summarizes 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 paper's title, which is centered at the top of the page. 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 toward 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 to analyze the data and the results 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 and compare the data with existing literature on 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 contains a detailed list of 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 the 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.
The American Psychological Association (APA) style is a widely used referencing system to help you achieve these objectives. When it comes to writing research papers , the references section of a Wikipedia page is one of the most valuable resources. However, it can be difficult and time-consuming to find and format a large number of references. For students who need to present their research papers in APA format, an online paper writing service like PapersOwl can be an invaluable asset. They can provide help with the research, citing, and overall formatting of the paper.
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 last author's name. If the source contains authors with the same surname and initial, their names 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 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 is followed by a comma, and then the year the source was published is 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.
If you are looking for APA papers for sale , PapersOwl is the perfect platform for you. We offer high-quality research papers in APA format written by highly qualified writers. Our papers meet all formatting requirements and are checked for plagiarism before delivery. So you can be confident that the paper you get is original and meets the highest academic standards.
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 them out the first time it is used, and for abbreviations present in the dictionary, spelling 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 the 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 or 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 a research paper and how to format an 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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Tips on Writing APA Style
If you're a student in one of Concordes more than 20 health care programs , you probably have been or will in the future be asked to write a paper using APA style. That can seem like a daunting task at first, especially if you're unaccustomed to it. So, as you pursue your health care training, we thought we'd offer some tips to help you familiarize yourself with APA style .
What is APA format?
Whether you're taking an introductory or a graduate-level class, chances are that you will have to write at least one paper. In almost every case, you'll need to write your paper in APA format, the official publication style of the American Psychological Association.
APA format dictates presentation aspects of your paper, including spacing, margins and how the content is structured. Not only does adhering to APA style allow readers to know what to expect, but it also means your work will not lose critical points over minor formatting errors.
The website VeryWell.com recently published an article that offered some basic tips on how to correctly utilize APA style as you pursue your health care training.
Basics of an APA format essay
- There should be a uniform margin of one inch at the top, bottom, left and right margins of the paper.
- Use double spacing.
- Every page of the paper should include a running head at the top left. The running head is a shortened form of the title and should be no more than 50 characters.
- Every page should include a page number in the top right corner.
- Every essay should have a title page that includes the title, your name and school affiliation. In some instances, your instructor might require additional information such as course title, instructor name and the date.
- Titles should be concise and succinct and should be no longer than 12 words.
- You must include a reference list at the end of the paper of all sources cited. They should be listed alphabetically by the last name of the author.
- The first word of each paragraph should be indented one-half inch.
- The APA recommends using Times New Roman size 12 font.
- While formatting requirements might vary, APA-style essays typically include a title page, abstract, introduction, body, conclusion and reference sections.
Tips for writing a health care training essay in APA format
The first tip for writing a strong APA-formatted paper seems simple enough. Choose a good topic to write about. Select a subject that is specific enough to let you fully research and explore the topic, but not so specific that you have a hard time finding sources of information.
Start doing research as early as possible. Begin by looking at some basic books and articles on your topic. Then, create a source list of material you might end up using.
Be sure to keep a detailed list of the sources that you cite. They must be included in the reference section. Conversely, any source listed in the references must be found somewhere in the body of your paper.
After you have prepared a rough draft, it's time to revise, review and prepare a final draft. In addition to making sure your writing is cohesive and supported by your sources, check carefully for typos, grammar errors and possible problems with the APA format.
You're pursuing your health care training , and there are a lot of things to keep track of and monitor. By adapting APA style and learning its nuances and formats, it can take a lot of the guesswork out of writing research papers and simplify your health care training life. Always remember, however, to consult the directions provided by your instructor for each assignment.
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APA format is the official style used by the American Psychological Association and is commonly used in the fields of psychology , education , and other social sciences. APA style refers to the way that student and professional publications are formatted for submission and publication. Knowing how to write in APA format is an important skill for both students and professionals.
The seventh edition of the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association" is the official guidebook for formatting your APA papers. It's the latest edition published in 2019. Of course, if you have further questions about how to format your paper, check with your professor or instructor on what they prefer.
If you're a beginner and need to write a paper in APA format, the following step-by-step guide can help you format your paper correctly and create the different sections that you will need.
General APA Format Guidelines
There are some basic rules of APA format that apply to any type of APA paper. These include:
- Type on standard-size (8.5-inch by 11-inch) paper
- Have a 1-inch margin on all sides
- Have a title page, a reference list , and a byline
- Use an easy-to-read font such as Calibri or Times New Roman
- Double-space the whole paper
- Align text to the left-hand side
- Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches
According to APA guidelines, your paper should include four main sections: a title page, abstract, main body, and references.
APA format emphasizes accessibility for all readers. Be sure to review their official information on how to make your paper accessible .
APA Format Title Page
There are two different versions of an APA title page : the student and professional versions. A student title page should include:
- Title of paper
- Name of each author of the paper (the byline)
- Affiliation for each author (the university attended, including the name of the department)
- Course number and name
- Instructor name (check with the instructor for their preferred format)
- Assignment due date (i.e., November 4, 2020)
- Page number
For a professional APA paper, include:
- Name of each author of the paper (byline)
- Affiliation for each author
- Author note
- Running head (an abbreviated version of the paper title)
For both student and professional papers, the paper title is in title case, bold, and centered. It should be about three to four lines down from the top margin of the page.
Be concise. Your title should be a short statement of what the reader will find in the paper. Your title will often identify the major variables and their relationships. Examples of APA paper titles include:
- Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Math Performance
- Impact of Leadership Style on Employee Productivity
- How Music Tempo Affects Running Pace
- How Medication Improves Smoking Cessation Outcomes
A title page for a professional paper should also include an author note, which provides more information about the paper's authors, study registration, data sharing, disclaimers on any conflicts of interest, a point of contact, and funding sources.
When writing your title, be concise and avoid any extraneous words that do not add meaning to your title. The APA style guide advises writers to avoid phrases such as "An Experimental Investigation of..." or "A Study of...".
APA Format Abstract
Think of an abstract as a summary of your paper. If you are a student, your instructor may or may not require an abstract; be sure to check.
Follow these tips for writing your abstract in APA format:
- The abstract should have its own page right after the title page.
- Centered at the top of the page in bold, write "Abstract."
- In the next line, briefly summarize the main points of the paper.
- While the content will vary, an abstract typically includes the research topic , research questions, information on participants and methods , the data analysis used, and main conclusions.
- An abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced, and usually no more than 250 words.
The "Publication Manual" states that a good abstract is accurate, coherent, and concise. Be sure not to include any information in the abstract that isn't in the paper itself.
Tables in APA Format
Tables are an efficient way to display a great deal of information in a concise, clear, and easy-to-read format. In APA format papers, tables are generally used to describe the results of statistical analysis and other pertinent quantitative data .
However, it is important to note that not all data should be presented in a table. If you have little numeric information to present, it should be described in the text of your paper.
The APA's publication manual recommends designing your table with the reader in mind. Strive to communicate data in a way that is clear and easy to understand.
Basic Rules for Tables
Keep these tips in mind when using a table in your APA format publication:
- Add an individual title to each table. It should be italicized and capitalized in APA style.
- Begin each table after the reference list on a page of its own.
- Number all tables (i.e., Table 1, Table 2, Table 3).
- Reference all tables in the text of the paper.
Remember that your table is there to supplement rather than replicate the text of your paper. Do not feel the need to discuss every element of your table in your text. Extraneous information can overwhelm and confuse the reader. Stick to reporting the most important data.
Instead, focus on keeping your table concise. Mention key highlights and tell the reader what to look for in your table.
Keep these tips in mind when writing table headings:
- Capitalize the first letter of each heading.
- Identify each column using a descriptive heading.
- Use abbreviations for standard terms in the table itself. Uncommon definitions should be explained in a note below the table.
If an additional explanation is needed, a note can be added below the table. There are three kinds of notes: general notes, specific notes, and probability notes.
General notes refer to some aspect of the entire table; specific notes refer to a particular column, row, or cell; probability notes specify the values of symbols in your table.
Reference Pages in APA Format
All sources cited in your paper should be included in the reference page. The reference page should appear at the end of your APA paper. This page makes it easy for the reader to easily look up all of the materials you cited.
Anything cited in the text must appear in the reference section and anything included in the reference section must be cited somewhere in the text.
Your references should begin on a new page with the title "References" in bold and centered at the very top. Do not underline, italicize, or place quotation marks around the title.
Basic Reference Page Rules
Be sure not to forget these rules when putting together your APA format reference page:
- Alphabetize references by the last names of the first author of each source.
- Capitalize all major words in the title of a journal (i.e., The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ).
- Capitalize only the first letter in article titles. If a colon appears in the title, the first letter after the colon should also be capitalized. The title should not be placed in quotations, underlined, or italicized.
- Double-space all references.
- Italicize the titles of books and journals.
- When the same author is cited multiple times, list references in chronological order with the oldest first, working your way up to the most recent one.
- Use a hanging indentation for each reference; the first line of the reference should be aligned to the left, but each additional line needs to be indented.
Journals and Periodicals
Journal articles should appear in alphabetical order in your reference list. More APA format tips include:
- Capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title, subtitle, and proper nouns.
- Italicize the name of the publication and the volume number.
The basic format of a journal article reference is to first list authors by their last names followed by the initials of their first names. Next, the publication year is enclosed in parentheses and followed by a period.
The title of the article should then follow, with only the first letter of the first word capitalized as well as the first letter of any proper nouns.
The italicized title of the journal comes after, followed by a comma. Place the volume number next, also italicized. Follow this with the issue number in parentheses, followed by a comma.
Then, place page numbers, using a hyphen in between if it's a range of pages. Place a period after this. Finally, a hyperlink including the DOI number should be included if there is one available.
This style is applicable to printed texts. The format for citing books in APA format is as follows:
- Name of author (last name, first initial)
- The date of the publication in parentheses
- The italicized title of the book
- If applicable, put the edition of the book in parentheses
- Publisher name
- Hyperlink with DOI number
Note: Place a period after each of these elements.
The basic format of an electronic reference is very similar to that of any other reference. However, you typically need to include the online location of the document.
Since online URLs can change, the APA recommends utilizing a digital object identifier (DOI) in your references whenever possible.
A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string that begins with a 10 as well as a prefix (usually a four-digit number assigned to organizations) and a suffix (a number assigned by the publisher).
Many publishers will include the DOI on the first page of an electronic document. If a DOI is available, simply include it as a hyperlink at the end of the reference as follows: https://doi.org/10.0000/00000000000.
Be sure to consult the latest information from The American Psychological Association for more information on citing electronic sources.
A Word From Verywell
It's helpful to consult the latest edition of the APA "Publication Manual" when you have questions about proper formatting for your APA paper. If you're a student, it's a great idea to consult with your instructor as well. They can help establish clear guidelines and expectations for your papers before you submit them.
Nicoll LH, Oermann MH, Chinn PL, Conklin JL, Amarasekara S, Mccarty M. Guidance provided to authors on citing and formatting references in nursing journals . J Nurses Prof Dev . 2018;34(2):54-59. doi:10.1097/NND.0000000000000430
American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition (2020) .
American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2020.
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
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Writing a Research Paper
24 Formatting a Research Paper (APA)
In this chapter, you will learn how to use APA style, the documentation and formatting style followed by the American Psychological Association, as well as MLA style, from the Modern Language Association. There are a few major formatting styles used in academic texts, including AMA, Chicago, and Turabian:
- AMA (American Medical Association) for medicine, health, and biological sciences
- APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the social sciences
- Chicago—a common style used in everyday publications like magazines, newspapers, and books
- MLA (Modern Language Association) for English, literature, arts, and humanities
- Turabian—another common style designed for its universal application across all subjects and disciplines
While all the formatting and citation styles have their own use and applications, in this chapter we focus our attention on the two styles you are most likely to use in your academic studies: APA and MLA.
If you find that the rules of proper source documentation are difficult to keep straight, you are not alone. Writing a good research paper is, in and of itself, a major intellectual challenge. Having to follow detailed citation and formatting guidelines as well may seem like just one more task to add to an already-too-long list of requirements.
Following these guidelines, however, serves several important purposes. First, it signals to your readers that your paper should be taken seriously as a student’s contribution to a given academic or professional field; it is the literary equivalent of wearing a tailored suit to a job interview. Second, it shows that you respect other people’s work enough to give them proper credit for it. Finally, it helps your reader find additional materials if they wish to learn more about your topic.
Furthermore, producing a letter-perfect APA-style paper need not be burdensome. Yes, it requires careful attention to detail. However, you can simplify the process if you keep these broad guidelines in mind:
- Work ahead whenever you can. keep track of your sources early in the research process, which will save time later on.
- Get it right the first time. Apply APA guidelines as you write, so you will not have much to correct during the editing stage. Again, putting in a little extra time early on can save time later.
- Use the resources available to you. In addition to the guidelines provided in this chapter, you may wish to consult the APA website or the Purdue University Online Writing lab , which regularly updates its online style guidelines.
General Formatting Guidelines
This chapter provides detailed guidelines for using the citation and formatting conventions developed by the American Psychological Association, or APA. Writers in disciplines as diverse as astrophysics, biology, psychology, and education follow APA style. The major components of a paper written in APA style are listed in the following box.
These are the major components of an APA-style paper:
- Headings and, if necessary, subheadings to organize the content
- In-text citations of research sources
- References page
All these components must be saved in one document, not as separate documents.
The title page of your paper includes the following information:
- Title of the paper
- Author’s name
- Name of the institution with which the author is affiliated
- Header at the top of the page with the paper title (in capital letters) and the page number (If the title is lengthy, you may use a shortened form of it in the header.)
List the first three elements in the order given in the previous list, centered about one third of the way down from the top of the page. Use the headers and footers tool of your word-processing program to add the header, with the title text at the left and the page number in the upper-right corner. Your title page should look like the following example.
The next page of your paper provides an abstract, or brief summary of your findings. An abstract does not need to be provided in every paper, but an abstract should be used in papers that include a hypothesis. A good abstract is concise—about one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty words—and is written in an objective, impersonal style. Your writing voice will not be as apparent here as in the body of your paper. When writing the abstract, take a just-the-facts approach, and summarize your research question and your findings in a few sentences.
In “Writing a Research Paper”, you read a paper written by a student, who researched the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets. Read the abstract. Note how it sums up the major ideas in his paper without going into excessive detail.
BEYOND THE HYPE: EVALUATING LOW-CARBOHYDRATE DIETS 2
Low-carbohydrate diets have become increasingly popular. Supporters claim they are notably more effective than other diets for weight loss and provide other health benefits such as lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels; however, some doctors believe these diets carry potential long-term health risks. A review of the available research literature indicates that low-carbohydrate diets are highly effective for short-term weight loss but that their long-term effectiveness is not significantly greater than other common diet plans. Their long-term effects on cholesterol levels and blood pressure are unknown; research literature suggests some potential for negative health outcomes associated with increased consumption of saturated fat. This conclusion points to the importance of following a balanced, moderate diet appropriate for the individual, as well as the need for further research.
Write an abstract summarizing your paper. Briefly introduce the topic, state your findings, and sum up what conclusions you can draw from your research. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to make sure your abstract does not exceed one hundred fifty words.
Margins, Pagination, and Headings
APA style requirements also address specific formatting concerns, such as margins, pagination, and heading styles, within the body of the paper. Review the following APA guidelines.
Use these general guidelines to format the paper:
- Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch.
- Use double-spaced text throughout your paper.
- Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point).
- Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section. Page numbers appear flush right within your header.
- Section headings and subsection headings within the body of your paper use different types of formatting depending on the level of information you are presenting. Additional details from Jorge’s paper are provided.
Begin formatting the final draft of your paper according to APA guidelines. You may work with an existing document or set up a new document if you choose. Include the following:
- Your title page
- The abstract you created in Exercise 25.1
- Correct headers and page numbers for your title page and abstract
APA style uses section headings to organize information, making it easy for the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought and to know immediately what major topics are covered. Depending on the length and complexity of the paper, its major sections may also be divided into subsections, sub-subsections, and so on. These smaller sections, in turn, use different heading styles to indicate different levels of information. In essence, you are using headings to create a hierarchy of information.
The following heading styles used in APA formatting are listed in order of greatest to least importance:
- Section headings use centered, boldface type. Headings use title case, with important words in the heading capitalized.
- Subsection headings use left-aligned, boldface type. Headings use title case.
- The third level uses left-aligned, indented, boldface type. Headings use a capital letter only for the first word, and they end in a period.
- The fourth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are boldfaced and italicized.
- The fifth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are italicized and not boldfaced.
Visually, the hierarchy of information is organized as indicated in Figure 25.4 “Section Headings”.
A college research paper may not use all the heading levels shown in Figure 25.4 “Section Headings”, but you are likely to encounter them in academic journal articles that use APA style. For a brief paper, you may find that level 1 headings suffice. Longer or more complex papers may need level 2 headings or other lower-level headings to organize information clearly. Use your outline to craft your major section headings and determine whether any subtopics are substantial enough to require additional levels of headings.
Working with the document you developed in Exercise 25.2, begin setting up the heading structure of the final draft of your research paper according to APA guidelines. Include your title and at least two to three major section headings, and follow the formatting guidelines provided above. If your major sections should be broken into subsections, add those headings as well. Use your outline to help you.
Throughout the body of your paper, include a citation whenever you quote or paraphrase material from your research sources. The purpose of citations is twofold: to give credit to others for their ideas and to allow your reader to follow up and learn more about the topic if desired. Your in-text citations provide basic information about your source; each source you cite will have a longer entry in the references section that provides more detailed information.
In-text citations must provide the name of the author or authors and the year the source was published. (When a given source does not list an individual author, you may provide the source title or the name of the organization that published the material instead.) When directly quoting a source, it is also required that you include the page number where the quote appears in your citation.
This information may be included within the sentence or in a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence, as in these examples.
Here, the writer names the source author when introducing the quote and provides the publication date in parentheses after the author’s name. The page number appears in parentheses after the closing quotation marks and before the period that ends the sentence.
Here, the writer provides a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence that includes the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number separated by commas. Again, the parenthetical citation is placed after the closing quotation marks and before the period at the end of the sentence.
Here, the writer chose to mention the source title in the sentence (an optional piece of information to include) and followed the title with a parenthetical citation. Note that the parenthetical citation is placed before the comma that signals the end of the introductory phrase.
Another variation is to introduce the author and the source title in your sentence and include the publication date and page number in parentheses within the sentence or at the end of the sentence. As long as you have included the essential information, you can choose the option that works best for that particular sentence and source.
Citing a book with a single author is usually a straightforward task. Of course, your research may require that you cite many other types of sources, such as books or articles with more than one author or sources with no individual author listed. You may also need to cite sources available in both print and online and nonprint sources, such as websites and personal interviews.
Writing in Process
APA is just one of several different styles with its own guidelines for documentation, formatting, and language usage. Depending on your field of interest, you may be exposed to additional styles, such as the following:
- MLA style. Determined by the Modern Languages Association and used for papers in literature, languages, and other disciplines in the humanities.
- Chicago style. Outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style and sometimes used for papers in the humanities and the sciences; many professional organizations use this style for publications as well.
- Associated Press (AP) style. Used by professional journalists.
The brief citations included in the body of your paper correspond to the more detailed citations provided at the end of the paper in the references section. In-text citations provide basic information—the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number if necessary—while the references section provides more extensive bibliographical information. Again, this information allows your reader to follow up on the sources you cited and do additional reading about the topic if desired.
The specific format of entries in the list of references varies slightly for different source types, but the entries generally include the following information:
- The name(s) of the author(s) or institution that wrote the source
- The year of publication and, where applicable, the exact date of publication
- The full title of the source
- For books, the city of publication
- For articles or essays, the name of the periodical or book in which the article or essay appears
- For magazine and journal articles, the volume number, issue number, and pages where the article appears
- For sources on the web, the URL where the source is located
The references page is double spaced and lists entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. If an entry continues for more than one line, the second line and each subsequent line are indented five spaces. Review the following example:
- This chapter was adapted from “ Creating a References Section ” in Writing for Success by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution (and republished by University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing). Adapted by Allison Kilgannon. CC BY-NC-SA .
Provincial English by Allison Kilgannon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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Research Paper in APA Format: Formatting Guidelines & Writing Tips
When writing an academic research paper in APA format, you have to follow certain APA rules. They include formatting guidelines and recommendations for citing sources. Using research paper APA formatting will help you write a well-organized paper with a consistent flow and enable your readers to find the cited sources seamlessly.
This in-depth guide to writing a research paper in APA format will provide you with all the essential tips for APA formatting and citations. You’ll learn all about the APA style, its importance in the scientific community, and the key steps to consider when using it.
Let’s start with the basics.
What Is APA?
APA stands for the American Psychological Association, the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the US. The organization publishes the APA Publication Manual , the most recent being the seventh edition.
The APA style is the standard format for structuring research papers and documenting sources to avoid plagiarism. Researchers, writers, educators, and students use it for research papers in education, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences, business, communications, and other related fields.
Why is the APA-style research paper format important?
Formatting in particular style provides consistency and clarity. It helps you organize your ideas professionally, making your paper easier to read and understand. Thanks to a uniform APA research paper format, your readers can focus on what matters instead of jumping through hoops to get a better grasp of the topic.
Apart from helping you structure and format your research paper, the APA style helps you cite your sources appropriately to establish credibility and avoid plagiarism.
If you’re too busy with your studies to spend time following the APA guidelines, you can find APA papers for sale and let the professionals handle them. But even if you do, you should still get familiar with all the rules. They’ll simplify your research, as you’ll learn how to read all the necessary sources effortlessly.
APA Research Paper Format: Structure & Formatting Guidelines
Creating a proper APA style research paper format requires following certain general guidelines, including:
- Setting all the margins at one inch
- Using an accessible font (e.g., 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, 11-point Arial, or 11-point Calibri
- Using double line spacing throughout the text
- Aligning the text to the left margin
- Indenting every paragraph’s first line 0.5 inches from the left margin
- Including page numbers in the page header
- Using right-align for the page numbers
Apart from these general requirements, there are other strict rules to follow regarding the main elements of your APA format research paper.
When formatting the title page, which is your research paper’s first page, you must:
- Use Heading 1 for the title - Center the title and put it in bold .
- Keep the title between 10-12 words - Keep it concise and clear, avoiding passive verbs and complex noun-based phrases.
- Include a double-spaced blank after the title - This is important for separating the title from the byline and all the subsequent lines.
- Include the author’s name in the byline - The order should be: first name, middle name, last name. Don’t include titles like Dr. or Ph.D.
- Include the college or university information - Beneath the byline, write the course number and name, the instructor’s name, and the due date, each on a separate line.
The abstract page is your APA format research paper’s second page, which can contain the introduction, your research summary, and the definitions of terms and abbreviations. Its formatting rules are as follows:
- Use Heading 1 for the section label - Center the “Abstract” label (without the quotation marks) and put it in bold .
- Keep the text between 150-250 words - Make sure it’s a one-paragraph overview of your research paper.
- Don’t use paragraph indentation - This is the only paragraph where you shouldn’t indent the first line but instead write it in a block format.
- Include relevant keywords - Below the abstract, write the italicized and indented “ Keywords: ” label (without the quotation marks), and list 3-5 relevant keywords on the same line. This will help researchers find your published paper in online databases.
When it comes to your research paper’s body, the APA recommends meeting the following research paper APA formatting rules for the headings (apart from the general requirements above):
- Heading 1 - Use it for all the section labels, which you should center and put in bold .
- Heading 2 - This is for all the main ideas, which you should left-align and put in bold .
- Heading 3 - Use this for the main subheadings. Bold , italicize and left-align them.
- Heading 4 - This heading is for secondary subheadings, which you should indent, put in bold , and end with a period. Start the text on the same line.
- Heading 5 - Use this for secondary subheadings’ supporting points, ensuring you indent, bold , italicize , and end them with a period. Start the text on the same line.
How many heading levels will you use? Well, that depends on your paper’s complexity and length. You don’t have to use all of them.
The reference page should follow the body and list all the sources you used for the research. Remember to use in-text citations as well, which should match all the sources in your reference list. Follow these APA style guidelines to give credit to the original authors:
- Use indentation - Indent every reference 0.5 inches from the left margin.
- Arrange the references alphabetically - List the references by the author’s last name, write it in full, including their first name’s initial afterward, and end with a period. Do the same for multiple authors, separating them with a comma.
- Include the publication year - Write it in parentheses, right after the author’s name, and end it with a period.
- Include the source’s title - End the title with a period as well, and don’t use the title case.
- Include the origin - State where you’ve found the source (e.g., book publisher, website, journal article, newspaper, etc.), and put it in italics .
- Indicate the work’s volume and/or page number - Put this information in parentheses.
Research paper examples in APA format
If you’re looking for a research paper APA format example to get a better grasp of all the rules above, check out these sample papers by the APA . You can download them for free to explore their overall structure and formatting.
Here are a few research paper examples to help you cite sources on your reference page.
An example for citing a book:
Kashdan, T., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2014). The upside of your dark side. New York, NY: Hudson Street Press.
Here’s another one for citing a journal article:
Hammond, S. I., & Drummond, J. K. (2019). Rethinking emotions in the context of infants’ prosocial behavior: The role of interest and positive emotions. Developmental Psychology , 55(9), 1882-1888. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000685
How to Write a Research Paper in APA Format
Writing a research paper in APA format requires more than just structuring your paper and citing the sources properly. Take a look at some of the key steps to consider during your APA research paper writing :
- Write a research summary - Use the “Abstract” section as the overview of everything you’ll discuss. Write a one-sentence introduction to interest the readers in the topic and the main idea. Explain your methodology, and include the most relevant details of your study.
- Focus on clarity, accuracy, and consistency - Pay attention to the grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and all the other relevant factors for improving your paper’s quality and readability.
- Use grammar and spelling checkers - After proofreading your paper, use tools like Grammarly , Reverso , LanguageTool , and SpellCheckPlus to identify potential errors and ensure your writing is impeccable.
- Ask for feedback - Two heads are better than one, right? Ask a classmate or your instructor for some constructive feedback on writing a top-notch APA-style paper. You can send the first draft to the instructor to make sure you’re on the right track.
Writing an academic research paper in APA format doesn’t seem so daunting now, does it? There may be plenty of rules, but they’re quite straightforward.
But if you’re too strapped for time to even search for all the relevant sources for your research, you can pay for research paper writing and get a high-quality APA format research paper.
At StudyClerk, we have an extensive team of brilliant writers who specialize in a wealth of fields and hold Ph.D. and Master’s degrees. They can help you with research, provide writing and formatting tips, and ensure your work has the right APA-style research paper format.
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