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Everything You Need to Know About Google Docs

Google Docs is a powerful online document creation and collaboration tool that allows users to create, edit, and share documents in real time. It’s a great way to collaborate with colleagues, classmates, or friends on projects or assignments. With Google Docs, you can easily access your documents from any device with an internet connection. Here’s everything you need to know about Google Docs.

Creating Documents

Creating documents with Google Docs is simple and straightforward. All you need to do is open the app and click on the “Create” button. From there, you can choose from a variety of templates or start from scratch with a blank document. You can also upload existing documents from your computer or other cloud-based storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive. Once you’ve created your document, you can start typing away and adding formatting such as bolding, italicizing, and underlining text. You can also add images, tables, charts, and more to your document.

Collaborating With Others

One of the best features of Google Docs is its collaboration capabilities. With just a few clicks, you can invite others to view or edit your document in real time. This makes it easy for teams to work together on projects without having to be in the same room or even the same city. You can also chat with other collaborators directly within the document so everyone stays on the same page.

Sharing Documents

Once you’ve finished creating and collaborating on your document, it’s time to share it with others. With Google Docs, you can easily share documents via email or link sharing with just a few clicks. You can also control who has access to view or edit your documents so only those who need access will have it.

Google Docs is an incredibly useful tool for creating and collaborating on documents online. With its easy-to-use interface and powerful features, it’s no wonder why so many people use it every day. Whether you’re working on a project with colleagues or just want an easy way to share documents with friends and family, Google Docs has got you covered.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


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How to Use APA Format in Google Docs

Format any academic paper with ease

In This Article

Jump to a Section

What Is APA Format?

  • Step-by-Step: Use the APA Template in Google Docs
  • Use APA Format on Google Docs

Formatting References for APA Style

In-text citations for apa style.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

If you use Google Docs for academic writing, then you'll likely need to be familiar with APA format. While you can use a Google Docs template , it also helps to know how to set up APA format in Google Docs manually, too.

Instructions in this article apply to the web version of Google Docs. The steps are the same for all web browsers and operating systems .

Your instructor might have specific requirements, but most papers in APA format should include the following:

  • Double-spaced text with no extra spaces between paragraphs.
  • Size 12 Times New Roman font, or a similarly legible font.
  • One-inch page margins on all sides.
  • A header that includes the title of your paper and the page number.
  • A title page that includes the title of your paper, your name, and your school's name.
  • Body paragraphs begin with a 1/2 inch indent.
  • A References page at the end of the paper.
  • In-text citations for specific quotes or facts.

The Google Doc APA template includes headings that you may or may not need. For example, your instructor might not require a 'Methodology' or 'Results' section. The American Psychological Association's website has the official guidelines for APA style .

How to Use the APA Template in Google Docs

Google Docs offers several templates that automatically format your documents. To set up the APA template in Google Docs:

Open a new document and select File > New > From template .

The template gallery will open in a separate browser tab. Scroll down to the Education section and select Report APA .

If you need to set up MLA format in Google Docs , there's also a template for that.

A new document will open containing dummy text in APA format. With the proper formatting already in place, you just need to change the words. If there are sections you don't need, delete them.

How to Do APA Format on Google Docs

Since the template can be a little confusing, you should understand how to set up APA style in Google Docs step-by-step. Once you format your paper, you can save it to use as your own personal template for the future:

Change the font to Times New Roman and the font size to 12 .

Google Docs uses 1-inch margins all round by default, so you don't need to change the margins.

Select Insert > Headers & footers > Header .

You can easily change and remove headers on Google Docs at any time.

The font for the header will revert to the default, so change it to  12 point   Times New Roman and type the title of your paper in all caps.

You can use a shortened version of your title if it is particularly long.

Select Insert > Page numbers > Page count .

Move the text cursor to the left side of the page number and press the spacebar or tab key until it is aligned with the top-right margin, then check the box under Different first page .

The text you entered will disappear from the first page, but it will appear on subsequent pages. Type Running head: followed by a space, then type your title in all caps.

Type the number 1 , then move the text cursor to the left side of the page number and press the spacebar or tab key until it is aligned with the top-right margin.

Make sure the font is set to the same font as the rest of your text.

Click or tap anywhere below the header, then select  Format  >  Line Spacing  >  Double .

Alternately, select the  Line spacing  icon in the toolbar at the top of the page and choose  Double .

Press the Enter key until the text cursor is about mid-way down the page and select Center Align .

Type the paper’s full title, your full name, and your school’s name on separate lines.

Select Insert > Break > Page Break to start a new page.

Select Center Align and type Abstract .

Press Enter , select Left Align .

Select Tab to indent, then type your abstract.

Google Doc's default ident of 0.5 inches is appropriate for APA format.

Select Insert > Break > Page Break to start a new page, then press the  Tab  key and begin typing the body of your paper. Begin each new paragraph with an indent.

You can set custom indents in Google Docs using the ruler tool.

When you're finished with the body of your paper, select  Insert  >  Break  >  Page Break  to create a new page for your references.

At the end of your paper, there should be a separate page that begins with the word “References” (without quotation marks) centered below the heading. The appropriate format for each reference depends on the type of source. For instance, use the following format to reference articles found on the web:

  • Author last name, first name (year, month day). Title. Publication. URL.

So, an online news article can be referenced as follows:

  • Kelion, Leo (2020, May 4). Coronavirus: UK contact-tracing app is ready for Isle of Wight downloads. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52532435 .

Your references should be alphabetized by the author's last name, and each entry needs a hanging indent , which means that every line after the first one is indented.

APA style also requires in-text citations. Follow all facts or quotes with a citation in the format (Author last, publication year, p. #) after the quote or before the sentence's end punction. For example:

  • (Atwood, 2019, p. 43)

You can omit the page number if you're referencing an entire work.

The American Psychological Association website has more examples of references in APA style .

Select Insert from the Google Docs menu bar, followed by Table . From the pull-down menu, choose the number of rows and columns for your table (1x1 minimum, 20x20 maximum). Remove all vertical lines in the table by selecting them, then select the Border Color tool and choose a color that matches the table background. Do the same for the horizontal lines, except when those lines are needed for data clarity. Type the number of the table (in bold) above the table, then type the table's title in title case (and in italics) below that. Include any relevant notes below the table.

Change the formatting of citations that have already been written to APA by selecting Tools from the menu bar, followed by Citations . A citation format sidebar will appear on the right side of the screen. Select APA from the drop-down menu to have Google Docs change your citation format accordingly.

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APA and MLA templates for Google Docs

Here are two Google Docs templates you can use for APA or MLA formatted papers. The templates are View Only, so you will need to make a copy if you want to use one. Click the Use Template button in the upper right corner to make a copy. 

APA template image

These templates have headers, page numbers, margins, fonts and line spacing already set up for you. Just make a copy and type over the filler text. 

APA Template Google Doc

MLA Template Google Doc

References and Citations

Google Docs also has a Citation tool to help you format your bibliography and in-text citations. You can find it in the menu under Tools=>Citations . Here is a short video showing the process:

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How to set up an APA format paper in Google Docs

  • How to use Google Docs' APA format templates

How to write an APA format paper in Google Docs using a template or other built-in features

  • You can write an APA formatted paper in Google Docs using its built-in tools or a template.
  • The basics of APA 7 format include double-spaced lines, a running header, and a title page — all of which can be done in Google Docs.
  • Google Docs' templates page includes pre-made APA 6 and APA 7 documents you can use as well.

While some students write in MLA format, others write in APA format. APA — short for American Psychological Association — is a standardized format for writing academic papers, especially in the fields of sociology, psychology, and other behavioral or social sciences. It has specific rules for what your essays should look like, and how they should be structured.

APA format has changed a few times over the decades (right now we're on APA Seventh Edition, or "APA 7"), but the basics have stayed the same. And no matter which version of APA format you're using, you can set it all up using Google Docs.

Here's how to make an APA essay in Google Docs, either manually or using a template.

Like other style guides, APA format has a variety of rules and standards. Here are the most important guidelines for structuring your paper, along with tips on how to meet those guidelines in Google Docs.

  • The font needs to be readable and consistent.

APA isn't strict about what font you should use, or even what size it should be. It just needs to be legible, and you need to use the same font throughout your entire paper (with exceptions for figures, computer code, and footnotes). Some common choices are 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Arial, and 11-point Calibri.

You can change your font and font size using the toolbar at the top of the screen. If you're trying to change text that you've already written, just be sure to highlight it first.

  • Your entire document needs to have one-inch margins and double-spaced lines.

All Google Docs documents have one-inch margins by default, so you probably don't need to worry about that. If you want to double-check or change them anyway, you can change the margins using the Page Setup menu or ruler feature .

Meanwhile, you can enable double-spacing with the Line & paragraph spacing menu in the toolbar above your document. Highlight all the text in your document, then select Double in this menu to turn on double-spacing . 

  • Every page needs a header with the paper's title in the top-left, and the page number in the top-right.

Google Docs lets you add headers to any page. You can add automatic page numbers through the Insert menu , and then double-click the header to add your title on the left if needed.

Remember that they need to be the same font and font size as the rest of your paper.

  • Your paper needs a title page with your name, paper title in bold, "institutional affiliation," and more.

Probably the most important part of an APA paper is the title page. It needs to include the paper's title in bold, your name, and your "institutional affiliation" — the school or organization that you're writing for. If you're a student, you also need to add the course number and name, your instructor's name, and the due date.

All this information should be centered in the upper-half of the first page. You can find Google Docs' alignment options in the toolbar at the top of the page. Highlight your text and select Center align in this menu to center everything.

  • Your paper should end with a References page, and each entry should be written with a hanging indent.

The last section of your paper is the References page. Make sure to put it on a new page (or pages, depending on how many you have to cite).

The word "References" should be centered and bolded on the very first line of the page. You can center the words using the alignment options mentioned above, and bold it by clicking the B icon .

List all your references in alphabetical order and use the ruler to give each one a hanging indent — in other words, every line after the first needs to be indented .

Your citations need hanging indents, which you can make with the ruler tool. Google; William Antonelli/Insider

How to use google docs' apa format templates.

While you can format your paper manually, Google Docs also offers two different APA templates — one for APA 7, and another for APA 6. These templates will let you meet most of the APA guidelines right away, but you'll probably still need to change some of it.

To use one of these templates:

1. Head to the Google Docs homepage and click Template gallery in the top-right.

2. Scroll down the templates page until you reach the Education section. In this section, click either Report [APA 6th ed] or Report [APA 7th ed] .

3. A page will open with an APA format paper already written in fake Lorem Ipsum language. Most of the formatting is there, so you just need to replace the pre-written words with your own.

You can find these templates in the mobile app by tapping the plus sign icon in the bottom-right, and then selecting Choose template .

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APA Style (7th ed.)

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Format Your Paper

Download and use the editable templates for student papers below: .

  • APA 7th ed. Template Document This is an APA format template document in Google Docs. Click on the link -- it will ask for you to make a new copy of the document, which you can save in your own Google Drive with your preferred privacy settings.
  • APA 7th ed. Template Document A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly according to APA 7th edition.
  • APA 7th ed. Annotated Bibliography template A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly for an annotated bibliography.

Or, view the directions for specific sections below:

Order of sections (section 2.17).

  • Title page including Title, Author, University and Department, Class, Instructor, and Date
  • Body (including introduction, literature review or background, discussion, and conclusion)
  • Appendices (including tables & figures)

Margins & Page Numbers (sections 2.22-2.24)

  • 1 inch at top, bottom, and both sides
  • Left aligned paragraphs and leave the right edge ragged (not "right justified")
  • Indent first line of each paragraph 1/2 inch from left margin
  • Use page numbers, including on the title page, 1/2 inch from top and flush with right margin

Text Format (section 2.19)

  • Times New Roman, 12 point
  • Calibri, 11 point
  • Arial, 11 point
  • Lucinda Sans Unicode, 10 point
  • Georgia, 11 point
  • Double-space and align text to the left
  • Use active voice
  • Don't overuse technical jargon
  • No periods after a web address or DOI in the References list.

Tables and Figures In-Text (chapter 7)

  • Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1)
  • Give each table column a heading and use separating lines only when necessary
  • Design the table and figure so that it can be understood on its own, i.e. it does not require reference to the surrounding text to understand it
  • Notes go below tables and figures

Title Page (section 2.3)

  • Include the title, your name,  the class name , and  the college's name
  • Title should be 12 words or less and summarize the paper's main idea
  • No periods or abbreviations
  • Do not italicize or underline
  • No quotation marks, all capital letters, or bold
  • Center horizontally in upper half of the page

Body (section 2.11)

  • Align the text to the left with a 1/2-inch left indent on the first line
  • Double-space
  • As long as there is no Abstract, at the top of the first page, type the title of the paper, centered, in bold , and in Sentence Case Capitalization
  • Usually, include sections like these:  introduction, literature review or background,  discussion, and conclusion -- but the specific organization will depend on the paper type
  • Spell out long organization names and add the abbreviation in parenthesis, then just use the abbreviation
  • Spell out numbers one through nine and use a number for 10 or more
  • Use a number for units of measurement, in tables, to represent statistical or math functions, and dates or times

Headings (section 2.26-2.27)

  • Level 1: Center, bold , Title Case 
  • Level 2: Align left, bold , Title Case
  • Level 3: Alight left, bold italics , Title Case
  • Level 4: Indented 1/2", bold , Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text. 
  • Level 5: Indented 1/2", bold italics , Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text. 

an illustration of the headings -- same detail as is given directly above this image

Quotations (sections 8.26-8.33)

  • Include short quotations (40 words or less) in-text with quotation marks
  • For quotes more than 40 words, indent the entire quote a half inch from the left margin and double-space it with no quotation marks
  • When quoting two or more paragraphs from an original source, indent the first line of each paragraph a half inch from the left margin
  • Use ellipsis (...) when omitting sections from a quote and use four periods (....) if omitting the end section of a quote

References (section 2.12)

Begins on a new page following the text of your paper and includes complete citations for the resources you've used in your writing.

  • References should be centered and bolded at the top of a new page
  • Double-space and use hanging indents (where the first line is on the left margin and the following lines are indented a half inch from the left)
  • List authors' last name first followed by the first and middle initials (ex. Skinner, B. F.)
  • Alphabetize the list by the first author's last name of of each citation (see sections 9.44-9.49)
  • Capitalize only the first word, the first after a colon or em dash, and proper nouns
  • Don't capitalize the second word of a hyphenated compound
  • No quotation marks around titles of articles

Appendices with Tables, Figures, & Illustrations (section 2.14, and chapter 7)

  • Include appendices only to help the reader understand, evaluate, or replicate the study or argument
  • Put each appendix on a separate page and align left
  • For text, do not indent the first paragraph, but do indent the rest
  • If you have only one appendix, label it "Appendix"
  • If you have two or more appendices, label them "Appendix A", "Appendix B" and so forth as they appear in the body of your paper
  • Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1, or Table B1 and Table B2 if Appendix B has two tables) and describe them within the text of the appendix
  • Notes go below tables and figures (see samples on p. 210-226)

Annotated Bibliography

Double-space the entire bibliography. give each entry a hanging indent. in the following annotation, indent the entire paragraph a half inch from the left margin and give the first line of each paragraph a half inch indent. see the template document at the top of this page..

  • Check with your professor for the length of the annotation and which elements you should evaluate.

These elements are optional, if your professor or field requires them, but they are  not required for student papers: 

Abstract (section 2.9).

  • Abstract gets its own page
  • Center "Abstract" heading and do not indent the first line of the text
  • Summarize the main points and purpose of the paper in 150-250 words maximum
  • Define abbreviations and acronyms used in the paper

Running Head (section 2.8 )

  • Shorten title to 50 characters or less (counting spaces and punctuation) for the running head
  • In the top margin, the running head is aligned left, with the page number aligned on the right
  • On every page, put (without the brackets): [SHORTENED TITLE OF YOUR PAPER IN ALL CAPS] [page number] 

More questions? Check out the authoritative source: APA style blog

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Question: How do I format a Google Doc in APA Style (7th ed)?

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Answered By: Norma Drepaul Last Updated: Dec 11, 2020     Views: 52357

Start the document.

Note* Google Docs works best when using Google Chrome as an internet browser.

  • Go to Google.com:  https://www.google.com/
  • Sign  in to your Google account (the same username and password that you use for Gmail)
  • Click on the  Google Apps  button
  • Scroll down and select  Docs
  • Click on  Blank  to start a document from scratch
  • Click on  Untitled Document  to enter a title for this document.  This will make it easy for you to find it in the future.  

illustration of steps one and two

The default should already be set to one-inch all around, but it is always a good idea to double-check. 

  • Go to the  File  menu
  • Click on  Page setup
  • Make sure that all the margins are set up correctly to one inch from top, bottom, left, and right. 

illustration of steps one, two, and three

Line Spacing

Line Spacing needs to be set up to double, this means that there is a blank line between each line of text in your essay. 

apa paper google docs

  • Click on  Double

illustration of line spacing steps

APA guidelines call for the font to be accessible to all users, so check with your professor for their preferences.   APA changed their recommendations and added additional font options: 11 point Calibri, Arial or Georgia, or 12 point Times New Roman

Font name should be set to "times new roman," and the font size should be "12" for most academic work unless your professor indicates anything different..

  • From the toolbar, click on the  Font  menu and select  Times New Roman .
  • From the toolbar, click on the  Font Size  menu and select  12 .

illustration of setting up the font and font size

Header and Page Numbering

Most academic work, unless your professor indicates anything different, requires you to add the page number onto the header of every page, and align it to the right.  google docs can configure the page numbers for you..

  • From the Menu bar, click on the  Insert  tab.
  • Click on  Page numbers
  • Select the button that shows all pages to be numbered, and aligned to the top right of the page.  
  • highlight and select the page number,
  • then go to the Font and Font Size buttons to select the appropriate options
  • Press the Esc key, or click outside of the header to go back to the body of your document

illustration of setting up page numbers steps one, two and three

Occasionally, when students copy and paste an essay from another application (Microsoft Word, or others), the header margins are not what they are supposed to be, and Google Docs places the header either too high or too low.  To make the corrections:

  • Go to the header of the page by double-clicking on the header area (by your last name and page number)
  • Click on  Options
  • Click on  Header format
  • Under Margins, look for Header and set the inches from top to  0.5
  • Click on  Apply.

illustration of step one

The APA 7th edition now provides specific guidelines for the title page on a student paper.  A student paper title page should include the following elements: title of your essay, your name, course number and name, instructor name, and assignment due date. Students should follow the guidelines from their instructors or institution when determining which title page format is most appropriate to use. For more details on setting up the title page see:  APA: Student title page .

No longer required for students papers, unless it is requested by the instructor:

  • no running head
  • no author note
  • no abstract

After you set the font, line spacing, page header, and press the sec key on your keyboard or click outside of the header to exit it and to set up your title page:   

  • Press the Enter key on your keyboard three times to move the cursor down the page 
  • From the toolbar, click on the  Center  align button
  • From the toolbar, click on B  for Bold button on the toolbar (to turn on the bold font tool)
  • Note* Titles should be no more than 12 words and must be clear, concise, and summarize the main idea of your paper.
  • Press the enter key on your keyboard twice
  • From the toolbar, click on B to un-bold the rest of the text from the title page
  • Type your first and last name, press enter
  • Type the college name followed by any other requirements from your professor, these could be the professor’s name, course name, date, etc
  • After you complete all the required elements for your title page, add a page break.

illustration of pressing the enter key three times

After the title page elements have been entered, add a page break to start on the second page.  

  • From the Menu bar, click on the  Insert  tab
  • Click on  Break
  • Click on  Page break  (or you can just use your keyboard and press the control and enter keys at the same time)

illustration on how to add a page break

Begin your Essay

After you have completed your title page and added a page break, you are ready to begin with page two.  

  • On the first line on page two, make sure to activate the B for bold and the Center alignment
  • Make sure that the title is in bold, centered, and all major words are capitalized
  • Press the enter key and then toggle off the B old and the C enter align  buttons
  • Press the tab key (on your keyboard) to indent your first paragraph, and start typing your essay

Follow your professor's instructions, and remember to indent each paragraph within your essay, unless indicated otherwise.  From here on, you just type your paper.  There is nothing different in the rest of the pages (unless you have to include headings and subheadings throughout your essay, check with your professor) until you get to the References page.  You do not have to worry about the right margin, Google Docs, like Microsoft Word, has a function called word-wrap that automatically moves your content to the next line when you reach the right margin.   

illustration of setting up the second page

References List and Hanging Indents

After you complete your essay, the last part is where you list all of your sources into a References page. 

The References section needs to start on a separate page in the same document.  After you type the last paragraph, place a page break by pressing the control and enter keys on your keyboard at the same time, or by going to the Insert tab from the menu bar, click on Break, then click on Page break.  (Illustration on  how to insert a page break is listed above)

After you have added a new page, as per instructions above, then you are going to title this page with the word: References

This needs to be centered, in bold, and you must use the same font and the same font size from your essay.  

  • From the toolbar, press the  Center align  and the Bold buttons 
  • Enter: References
  • Then press the enter key to move the cursor to the next line
  • Press the Left align  button to move the cursor to the left menu, and click on the Bold button to toggle off the bold function (the rest of the text in the citations are not in bold)

illustration of setting up the references list

After you have pressed the enter key, now is time to start listing all of the sources that you used according to APA style. 

Each entry needs to:

  • follow the guidelines from APA
  • be listed in alphabetical order
  • have a hanging indentation

To manually enter all of your citations, first set up the hanging indentation option: 

From the Menu bar, click on the  Format  tab

Click on A lign & Indent  menu

Click on  Indentation options

Under Special indent, select  Hanging  from the drop-down menu, and make sure that it is set to  0.5

Click on  Apply

illustration of setting up hanging indents

Instead of manually entering your citations, you can use a citation generator to create the citation.

  • Once the generator has created the citation, you can copy it, then go to your Google Doc and paste the citations into your References page. 
  • make sure that all the formatting is correct like the font and font size
  • make sure that each citation has hanging indents. 
  • If you need to make any changes to the citations that you just pasted, then highlight them all, then use the tools from Google Docs to make the changes, such as changing the font to "Times New Roman" and the font size to "12", and add the hanging indentations by following the instructions above.  

Many times, when you copy a citation from a generator, it brings unnecessary formatting such as strange fonts, or backgrounds from different colors.  If you use the citation generator from EBSCO databases, many times a gray background also follows the citation. 

illustration of EBSCO gray background in generated citation

To remove the gray background:

  • Highlight all the citations that need to be fixed by using the mouse 
  • From the toolbar, click on the  Highlight color  button
  • Click on  None

illustration on how to remove the gray background

If the links turn into active hyperlinks with blue font and become underlined, this is not a problem, but you can change the color back to black and remove the underline. 

While you still have the citations selected:

  • Click on the U for Underline to remove the underline
  • Click on the A for font Text color
  • Select black

illustration of changing the hyperlinks to black font and removing the underline

Your References List 

illustration of references list

Explore some of the tools from Google Docs to help you create a better document, these can be found in the Tools bar:

  • Use the spelling and grammar tool to help you catch errors. 
  • Use the Word Count tool if you need to provide that information to your professor.
  • If you are using Google Docs with Google Chrome, you can also dictate text in addition to typing.

illustration featuring common tools

Sharing Your Document

  • You can create a link for your Google Doc to share with your professor or download it as different file types (Word, PDF, and more) to submit on Canvas.  
  • Check with your professor to see how they would like your essay to be submitted.

Go to the File tab to see different download and print options:

illustration featuring printing and download options

  • Click on the  Share  button
  • To get a link that anybody can open in your class, under the "Get Link" section, click on the " Change with anyone with the link "
  • Click on  Copy link
  • Then you can go to Canvas or send your professor or classmates the link to your essay.  Be sure to follow instructions from your professor.

illustration of share button

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apa paper google docs

apa paper google docs

How to Style Your Paper with APA Format in Google Docs

  • Last updated November 15, 2023

If you’re a student or working in the academic field, you’re probably somewhat familiar with the APA format. However, formatting your paper according to APA guidelines can be daunting, especially if you’re using a tool like Google Docs.

But fear not! In this article, we’ll teach you how to use APA format in Google Docs and access its built-in APA templates to save you time and effort in the long run.

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

What Is APA Format?

APA stands for American Psychological Association. From its name, it’s easy to guess that this style has become the standard for many disciplines, including psychology, education, and social sciences.

The APA Style  is a standard format used in essays, research, and other forms of academic writing.

Related : How to Do MLA Format on Google Docs [Step-by-Step Guide]

How to Set Up APA Format in Google Docs

Before starting the writing process, it’s essential to customize the appearance of your document. This ensures that every important section in an APA-style paper is present. As of writing, APA is in its seventh edition  (APA 7). Therefore, we’ll use this version in the following guide.

Here’s how to do APA format in Google Docs.

Step 1: Configure Margin Settings

By default, a new document in Google Docs has one-inch margins on all sides. If you’ve changed your default settings at some point in the past, you’ll need to modify them for APA.

  • Go to “File,” then select  “Page setup.”

Where is the page setup option in Google Docs

  • Ensure that all margins are set at 1 inch  (or in the margin size specified by your instructor).
  • Click  “OK”  when done.

Setting the margins in Google Docs

Step 2: Add Page Headers

  • In the drop-down menu bar, select “ I nsert” > “Headers & footers” > “Header.”

Adding a header section in Google Docs

  • If you’re writing the paper for professional use, type the title in all caps (as a running head ). If not, skip step three.
  • Highlight the page header and select  “Times New Roman,”  size 12 as the font.

Switching APA font to Times New Roman, size 12

  • Under the Header menu, click on the “Options”  drop-down and choose “Page numbers.”

How to add page numbers in Google Docs

  • Ensure that the value in the “Start at”  field is 1. Click on the “Apply”  button to insert the pagination.

Adding pagination within Google Docs APA formatting

  • Place your cursor at the immediate left of the page number. Press the  “Tab”  key and/or the spacebar on your keyboard to flush the page number to the right.

Adjusting the position of the page number in Google Docs

Step 3: Set up the APA Format for Title Page in Google Docs

  • Click on any part of your document.
  • Change the font style by clicking on the “Font”  drop-down menu and selecting “Times New Roman.”

Changing font styles in Google document

  • Adjust the font size to 12 using the “Font size”  option in the Google Docs toolbar.

How to change font size in Google Docs

  • Click on the “Line & paragraph spacing”  button (denoted by an up-down arrow with three horizontal lines). Select  “Double.”

How to double-space Google document for APA format

  • Press the  “Enter” or  “Return”  key on your keyboard three to four times.
  • Click on “Align” > “Center align”  in the toolbar to flush the text to the middle of the page.

Using center align for APA format title

  • Type your paper title and make it bold by pressing  “Ctrl” + “B”  (or “Cmd” + “B”  for Mac) on your keyboard.

Making paper title bold to follow APA format

  • Alternatively, highlight the title and click the  “B” (Bold) button on the toolbar at the top.

Bold button on Google Docs

  • Add a new line, then type the name of the author(s) below it.
  • For students : Author’s school, course number and name, name of the instructor, and assignment due date.
  • For professionals : Author’s affiliation (where the research was conducted), notes from the author, and ORCiD link .

APA format title page Google Docs

  • To start a new page, select  “Insert” > “Break” > “Page break.”

Inserting a page break in Google Docs

Step 4: Insert an Abstract Page

An abstract page  presents the overall gist of your paper. It contains both the summary and a list of keywords related to your topic. Note that this is only important for professional papers.

To insert an abstract page, simply follow the steps below.

  • On a new page after the title page, type “Abstract”  and select  “Align” > “Center align”  in the toolbar.

How to create an APA abstract page in Google Docs

  • Make it bold by pressing “Ctrl” + “B”  (or  “Cmd” + “B”  for Mac).
  • Press “Enter”  to start a new line.
  • Enable  “Left align”  and begin typing your abstract.

APA formatting abstract page Google Docs

Step 5: Type the Full Paper Title & Start Writing

Having laid out the basic formatting of your paper, you can now begin writing your content. On the first line of a new page, you’ll have to enter the full title of your work. This should be bolded, centered, and using an APA-style title case .

Full title in APA academic paper

When it comes to the body of your paper or dissertation, there are a few more elements to remember.

Apply the Correct Paragraph Format

When using the APA style, your paragraphs should be aligned to the left margin. Each paragraph should also start with a 0.5-inch indentation . In Google Docs, pressing the “Tab”  key on your keyboard should produce a half-inch indentation by default.

Paragraph indentation rules for APA format

If you’re citing original text from another source with more than 40 words, you should use a “block quotation.”  This means the whole block or paragraph is indented ½ inch to the right (but remains left-aligned).

APA indentation rules for block quotes

Related : Easily Insert a Google Sheet Into Google Docs [2023 Guide]

Use In-Text Citations Properly

When getting information from other references, make sure to use in-text citations. You can do this in two ways:

  • (Author’s surname, publication year, and page number): This is called a parenthetical citation . You can insert it right after a quote or at the end of a sentence. The page number is important if you’re citing specific lines from another source. But you can remove it if you’re citing the summary of an entire paper.

Parenthetical citation in APA 7

  • [Author] reported that…(Publication year): This is called a narrative citation . Here, the surname of the author is part of the paragraph itself. You only need to enclose the publication year in parentheses.

Narrative citation in APA 7

How to Format References for APA Style

You have to give credit to every source used in your APA research and paper. This allows your instructor or reader to verify whether certain information in your work is true. Therefore, you must have a References page at the end of your document.

Here’s how to set it up.

  • On a new page, type the word  “References”  on the first line.
  • Put it in center alignment and make it bold.

Making the APA references page in Google Docs

  • Start a new line and input the correct format for your source type .
  • After listing your references, alphabetize them based on the surnames of the authors.
  • Highlight your reference list.
  • Go to “Format” > “Align & indent” > “Indentation options.”

Where to find indentation options in Google Docs

  • Under “Special indent,”  select “Hanging” from the drop-down menu.
  • Click on the  “Apply” button.

Using hanging indent for APA references page

How to Use the APA Google Docs Templates

Given the common use of the APA format in academia, it’s common to find templates designed for it. Google Docs itself offers two variants: APA 6th Ed.  and APA 7th Ed.  (the latest edition).

Here’s how you can set them up for your use.

  • Launch your browser and go to the Google Docs homepage .
  • Click on “Template Gallery.”

Home interface of Google Docs

  • Under the  “Education”  category, select “Report”  with the words “APA 6th Ed.”  or “APA 7th Ed.”  below it (depending on what your instructor requires).

APA format templates in Google Docs

You can also access the templates from a blank document you created. To do this, click on “File” > “New” > “From template.”  This will redirect you to the same Template Gallery. Select any of the two APA formats to proceed.

Accessing the GDocs template gallery from a new document

Doing the steps above would open an APA format template in Google Docs. All you have to do is insert your content.

It’s important to note that APA formatting for professional and student papers differs slightly. This is noticeable, especially when making the APA cover page in Google Docs . These templates have parentheses that say “for professional papers”  and “for student papers.” Select what applies to you and delete the other unnecessary parts of the template.

Difference between student and professional paper in APA format

Get Even More APA  Format Tips and Templates!

By following this guide to using APA format in Google Docs, you’ll ensure that papers meet your educational institution’s formatting requirements (while giving your work a professional and polished look).

Need more assistance with APA? Not to worry: Udemy’s got plenty of APA formatting courses  to give you a leg-up!

Looking for powerful templates to improve your work output? You can find them on our Gumroad page ! Check out our huge list of templates and get 50% off by using the code “SSP .”

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