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1. Paper Format

  • Page ID
    40341
  • When writing in APA, the first thing to familiarize yourself with is how the paper should be formatted. For consistency, we will be following the guidelines for a student paper. In general, each section of the paper should start on its own page and follow this outline:

    • Title Page
    • Abstract (Optional for student papers)
    • Text
    • References
    • Footnotes
    • Tables
    • Figures
    • Appendices

    Title Page

    A title page should include the paper title, author(s), author affiliation, course number and name for which the paper is being written and submitted, instructor name, assignment due date, and page number. Student papers do not require a running head unless specified by the instructor or institution.

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    Font, Line Spacing, and Margins

    Font

    For an APA paper, you should use size 12 Times New Roman font. Under APA, other sans serif and serif fonts are acceptable, like Calibri and Arial.

    You should use the same font for the duration of the paper, except in the following instances:

    • Figures: Within figures, use a sans serif font (Calibri, Arial, or Lucida Sans Unicode) in sizes 8-14
    • Computer Code: Use a monospace font like Lucida Console or Courier New in 10-point font.
    • Footnotes: Use the default font settings in your word processor.

    Line Spacing

    An APA paper should be double-spaced throughout its entirety without extra space between paragraphs. Exceptions are as follows:

    • Title Page: There should be a double-spaced blank line between the title and the author names, as outlined above.
    • Tables: The table body may be single-spaced, one-and-a-half spaced, or double spaced depending on the layout. Double-space the table number, title, and notes. 
    • Figures: Within the figure, words may be single, one-and-a-half, or double-spaced depending on the layout. Double-space the figure number, title, and notes.
    • Footnotes: Use the default settings in your word processor.
    • Displayed Equations: You can use triple or quadruple-spacing before and after an equation.

    Margins

    Use 1-inch margins on all sides of the page. 

    Paragraph Alignment

    An APA paper should be left-justified and should have an uneven right-margin, words should not be hyphenated over the end of the line. If your word processor automatically breaks ling URLs (like a DOI in your reference list), that is acceptable.

    Paragraph indentation should be 0.5 inches. Use the tab key to create the indent, not the space bar. 

    Exceptions to the paragraph rules include:

    • Title Page: The contents of the title page should be centered on the page.
    • Section Labels: Section labels (ex. "References") should be centered and bold.
    • Abstract: The first line of the abstract should not be indented.
    • Block Quotations: A whole block quotation should be indented 0.5 inches from the margin. If the quotation is longer than one paragraph, the beginning line of each subsequent paragraph should be indented another 0.5 inches for a total of 1 inch on those lines.
    • Headings: Level 1 should be centered and bold, Level 2 and 3 should be left-aligned (bold or italicized as instructed), Level 4 and 5 indent under normal paragraph rules.
    • Tables and Figures: Table and figure numbers (bold), titles (italics), and notes should be flush left (no indent).
    • Reference List: Entries in the reference list should have a hanging indent of 0.5 inches.
    • Appendices: Labels and titles in the appendix should be centered and bold. 

    Headings

    In an APA paper, headings identify content within sections of a paper. Headings should be descriptive and concise; when done well, headings are helpful to readers of all abilities.

    Levels 

    In APA style, there are 5 levels of headings. Level 1 is the main level of heading, Level 2 is a subheading of Level 1, and so on for Levels 3, 4, and 5. How many levels required in a paper is dependent on how complex the piece is; short student papers often do not require headings at all. If only one level is needed, use Level 1. If two levels are needed, use Levels 1 and 2. This pattern continues so on for 3, 4, and 5 needed levels. 

    Pro-Tip

    Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:

    • Avoid having only one subsection heading within a section
    • Do not label with just numbers or letters
    • Headers should still be double-spaced. 
    • Do not add blank lines above or below headings

    Format

    Below is a table that shows how to format headings in APA.

    Level Format
    1

    Centered, Bold Title Case Heading

         Begin text as a new paragraph.

    2

    Flush Left, Bold, Title Case Heading

         Begin text as a new paragraph.

    3

    Flush Left, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading

         Begin text as a new paragraph.

    4      Indented, Bold, Title Case Heading, Ending With a Period. Begin text on the same line and continue as a regular paragraph.
    5      Indented, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading, Ending With a Period. Begin text on the same line and continue as a regular paragraph.

     

    Example papers can be found at https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/paper-format/sample-papers

    ***Information adapted from the American Psychological Foundation***

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