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APA Format Guidelines, Tips, and Examples

How to Write in APA Format

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

apa style essays examples

Amanda Tust is a fact-checker, researcher, and writer with a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

apa style essays examples

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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.

Table Headings

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.

Additional Notes

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.

Electronic Sources

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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APA Formatting and Style (7th ed.) for Student Papers

  • What's New in the 7th ed.?
  • Principles of Plagiarism: An Overview
  • Basic Paper Formatting
  • Basic Paper Elements
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  • Tables and Figures
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  • Reference Page Format
  • Periodicals (Journals, Magazines, Newspapers)
  • Books and Reference Works
  • Webpage on a Website
  • Discussion Post
  • Company Information & SWOT Analyses
  • Dissertations or Theses
  • ChatGPT and other AI Large Language Models
  • Online Images
  • Online Video
  • Computer Software and Mobile Apps
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APA 7th ed. Fillable Word Template and Sample Paper

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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format

APA Format for Students & Researchers

In this guide, students and researchers can learn the basics of creating a properly formatted research paper according to APA guidelines.

It includes information on how to conceptualize, outline, and format the basic structure of your paper, as well as practical tips on spelling, abbreviation, punctuation, and more. The guide concludes with a complete sample paper as well as a final checklist that writers can use to prepare their work for submission.

APA Paper Formatting Basics

  • All text should be double-spaced
  • Use one-inch margins on all sides
  • All paragraphs in the body are indented
  • Make sure that the title is centered on the page with your name and school/institution underneath
  • Use 12-point font throughout
  • All pages should be numbered in the upper right hand corner
  • The manual recommends using one space after most punctuation marks
  • A shortened version of the title (“running head”) should be placed in the upper left hand corner

Table of Contents

Here’s a quick rundown of the contents of this guide on how to do APA format.

Information related to writing and organizing your paper:

  • Paper and essay categories

General paper length

  • Margin sizes
  • Title pages
  • Running Heads
  • APA Outline
  • APA Abstract
  • The body of papers
  • APA headings and subheadings
  • Use of graphics (tables and figures)

Writing style tips:

Proper tone.

  • Reducing bias and labels
  • Abbreviation do’s and don’ts
  • Punctuation
  • Number rules

Citing Your Sources:

  • Citing Sources
  • In-text Citations
  • Reference Page

Proofing Your Paper:

  • Final checklist
  • Submitting your project

APA Information:

  • What is APA
  • APA 7 Updates

What you won’t find in this guide: This guide provides information related to the formatting of your paper, as in guidelines related to spacing, margins, word choice, etc. While it provides a general overview of APA references, it does not provide instructions for how to cite in APA format.

For step-by-step instructions for citing books, journals, how to cite a website in APA format, information on an APA format bibliography, and more, refer to these other EasyBib guides:

  • APA citation (general reference guide)
  • APA In-text citation
  • APA article citation
  • APA book citation
  • APA citation website

Or, you can use our automatic generator. Our APA formatter helps to build your references for you. Yep, you read that correctly.

Writing and Organizing Your APA Paper in an Effective Way

This section of our guide focuses on proper paper length, how to format headings, spacing, and more! This information can be found in Chapter 2 of the official manual (American Psychological Association, 2020, pp. 29-67).

Categories of papers

Before getting into the nitty-gritty details related to APA research paper format, first determine the type of paper you’re about to embark on creating:

Empirical studies

Empirical studies take data from observations and experiments to generate research reports. It is different from other types of studies in that it isn’t based on theories or ideas, but on actual data.

Literature reviews

These papers analyze another individual’s work or a group of works. The purpose is to gather information about a current issue or problem and to communicate where we are today. It sheds light on issues and attempts to fill those gaps with suggestions for future research and methods.

Theoretical articles

These papers are somewhat similar to a literature reviews in that the author collects, examines, and shares information about a current issue or problem, by using others’ research. It is different from literature reviews in that it attempts to explain or solve a problem by coming up with a new theory. This theory is justified with valid evidence.

Methodological articles

These articles showcase new advances, or modifications to an existing practice, in a scientific method or procedure. The author has data or documentation to prove that their new method, or improvement to a method, is valid. Plenty of evidence is included in this type of article. In addition, the author explains the current method being used in addition to their own findings, in order to allow the reader to understand and modify their own current practices.

Case studies

Case studies present information related an individual, group, or larger set of individuals. These subjects are analyzed for a specific reason and the author reports on the method and conclusions from their study. The author may also make suggestions for future research, create possible theories, and/or determine a solution to a problem.

Since APA style format is used often in science fields, the belief is “less is more.” Make sure you’re able to get your points across in a clear and brief way. Be direct, clear, and professional. Try not to add fluff and unnecessary details into your paper or writing.  This will keep the paper length shorter and more concise.

Margin sizes in APA Format

When it comes to margins, keep them consistent across the left, right, top, and bottom of the page. All four sides should be the same distance from the edge of the paper. It’s recommended to use at least one-inch margins around each side. It’s acceptable to use larger margins, but the margins should never be smaller than an inch.

Title pages in APA Format

The title page, or APA format cover page, is the first page of a paper or essay. Some teachers and professors do not require a title page, but some do. If you’re not sure if you should include one or not, ask your teacher. Some appreciate the page, which clearly displays the writer’s name and the title of the paper.

The APA format title page for student papers includes six main components:

  • the title of the APA format paper
  • names of all authors
  • institutional affiliation
  • course number and title
  • instructor’s name

Title pages for professional papers  also require a running head; student papers do not.

Some instructors and professional publications also ask for an author’s note. If you’re required or would like to include an author’s note, place it below the institutional affiliation. Examples of information included in an author’s note include an ORCID iD number, a disclosure, and an acknowledgement.

Here are key guidelines to developing your title page:

  • The title of the paper should capture the main idea of the essay, but should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. For example, instead of using the title “A Look at Amphibians From the Past,” title the paper “Amphibians From the Past.” Delete the unnecessary fluff!
  • Center the title on the page and place it about 3-4 lines from the top.
  • The title should be bolded, in title case, and the same font size as your other page text. Do not underline or italicize the title. Other text on the page should be plain (not bolded , underlined, or italicized ). 
  • All text on the title page should be double-spaced. The APA format examples paper below displays proper spacing, so go take a look!
  • Do not include any titles in the author’s name such as Dr. or Ms. In contrast, for your instructor’s name, use the form they prefer (e.g., Sagar Parekh, PhD; Dr. Minako Asato; Professor Nathan Ian Brown; etc.).
  • The institutional affiliation is the school the author attends or the location where the author conducted the research.

In a hurry? Try the  EasyBib title page maker to easily create a title page for free.

apa style essays examples

Sample of an APA format title page for a student paper:

APA-format-student-title-page

Sample of title page for a professional paper:

APA-format-professional-title-page

Running heads in APA Format

The 7th edition of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual (p. 37) states that running heads are not required for student papers unless requested by the instructor. Student papers still need a page number included in the upper right-hand corner of every page. The 6th edition required a running head for student papers, so be sure to confirm with your instructor which edition you should follow. Of note, this guide follows the 7th edition.

Running heads are required for professional papers (e.g., manuscripts submitted for publication). Read on for instructions on how to create them.

Are you wondering what is a “running head”? It’s basically a page header at the top of every page. To make this process easier, set your word processor to automatically add these components onto each page. You may want to look for “Header” in the features.

A running head/page header includes two pieces:

  • the title of the paper
  • page numbers.

Insert page numbers justified to the right-hand side of the APA format paper (do not put p. or pg. in front of the page numbers).

For all pages of the paper, including the APA format title page, include the “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” justified to the left in capital letters (i.e., the running head). If your full title is long (over 50 characters), the running head title should be a shortened version.

APA format running head

Preparing outlines in APA Format

Outlines are extremely beneficial as they help writers stay organized, determine the scope of the research that needs to be included, and establish headings and subheadings.

There isn’t an official or recommended “APA format for outline” structure. It is up to the writer (if they choose to make use of an outline) to determine how to organize it and the characters to include. Some writers use a mix of roman numerals, numbers, and uppercase and lowercase letters.

Even though there isn’t a required or recommended APA format for an outline, we encourage writers to make use of one. Who wouldn’t want to put together a rough outline of their project? We promise you, an outline will help you stay on track.

Here’s our version of how APA format for outlines could look:

apa style essays examples

Don’t forget, if you’re looking for information on APA citation format and other related topics, check out our other comprehensive guides.

How to form an abstract in APA

An APA format abstract (p. 38) is a summary of a scholarly article or scientific study. Scholarly articles and studies are rather lengthy documents, and abstracts allow readers to first determine if they’d like to read an article in its entirety or not.

You may come across abstracts while researching a topic. Many databases display abstracts in the search results and often display them before showing the full text of an article or scientific study. It is important to create a high quality abstract that accurately communicates the purpose and goal of your paper, as readers will determine if it is worthy to continue reading or not.

Are you wondering if you need to create an abstract for your assignment? Usually, student papers do not require an abstract. Abstracts are not typically seen in class assignments, and are usually only included when submitting a paper for publication. Unless your teacher or professor asked for it, you probably don’t need to have one for your class assignment.

If you’re planning on submitting your paper to a journal for publication, first check the journal’s website to learn about abstract and APA paper format requirements.

Here are some helpful suggestions to create a dynamic abstract:

  • Abstracts are found on their own page, directly after the title or cover page.
  • Professional papers only (not student papers): Include the running head on the top of the page.
  • On the first line of the page, center the word “Abstract” (but do not include quotation marks).
  • On the following line, write a summary of the key points of your research. Your abstract summary is a way to introduce readers to your research topic, the questions that will be answered, the process you took, and any findings or conclusions you drew. Use concise, brief, informative language. You only have a few sentences to share the summary of your entire document, so be direct with your wording.
  • This summary should not be indented, but should be double-spaced and less than 250 words.
  • If applicable, help researchers find your work in databases by listing keywords from your paper after your summary. To do this, indent and type Keywords : in italics.  Then list your keywords that stand out in your research. You can also include keyword strings that you think readers will type into the search box.
  • Active voice: The subjects reacted to the medication.
  • Passive voice: There was a reaction from the subjects taking the medication.
  • Instead of evaluating your project in the abstract, simply report what it contains.
  • If a large portion of your work includes the extension of someone else’s research, share this in the abstract and include the author’s last name and the year their work was released.

APA format example page:

Example APA abstract

Here’s an example of an abstract:

Visual design is a critical aspect of any web page or user interface, and its impact on a user’s experience has been studied extensively. Research has shown a positive correlation between a user’s perceived usability and a user’s assessment of visual design. Additionally, perceived web quality, which encompasses visual design, has a positive relationship with both initial and continued consumer purchase intention. However, visual design is often assessed using self-report scale, which are vulnerable to a few pitfalls. Because self-report questionnaires are often reliant on introspection and honesty, it is difficult to confidently rely on self-report questionnaires to make important decisions. This study aims to ensure the validity of a visual design assessment instrument (Visual Aesthetics of Websites Inventory: Short version) by examining its relationship with biometric (variables), like galvanic skin response, pupillometry, and fixation information. Our study looked at participants assessment of a webpage’s visual design, and compared it to their biometric responses while viewing the webpage. Overall, we found that both average fixation duration and pupil dilation differed when participants viewed web pages with lower visual design ratings compared to web pages with a higher visual design rating.

Keywords : usability, visual design, websites, eye tracking, pupillometry, self-report, VisAWI

The body of an APA paper

On the page after the title page (if a student paper) or the abstract (if a professional paper), begin with the body of the paper.

Most papers follow this format:

  • At the top of the page, add the page number in the upper right corner of all pages, including the title page.
  • On the next line write the title in bold font and center it. Do not underline or italicize it.
  • Begin with the introduction and indent the first line of the paragraph. All paragraphs in the body are indented.

Sample body for a student paper:

example APA paper body

Most scientific or professional papers have additional sections and guidelines:

  • Start with the running head (title + page number). The heading title should be in capital letters. The abstract page should be page 2.
  • The introduction presents the problem and premise upon which the research was based. It goes into more detail about this problem than the abstract.
  • Begin a new section with the Method and use this word as the subtitle. Bold and center this subtitle. The Method section shows how the study was run and conducted. Be sure to describe the methods through which data was collected.
  • Begin a new section with the Results . Bold and center this subtitle. The Results section summarizes your data. Use charts and graphs to display this data.
  • Draw conclusions and support how your data led to these conclusions.
  • Discuss whether or not your hypothesis was confirmed or not supported by your results.
  • Determine the limitations of the study and next steps to improve research for future studies.

Sample body for a professional paper:

example apa format professional paper body

Keep in mind, APA citation format is much easier than you think, thanks to EasyBib.com. Try our automatic generator and watch how we create APA citation format references for you in just a few clicks. While you’re at it, take a peek at our other helpful guides, such as our APA reference page guide, to make sure you’re on track with your research papers.

Proper usage of headings & subheadings in APA Format

Headings (p. 47) serve an important purpose in research papers — they organize your paper and make it simple to locate different pieces of information. In addition, headings provide readers with a glimpse to the main idea, or content, they are about to read.

In APA format, there are five levels of headings, each with a different formatting:

  • This is the title of your paper
  • The title should be centered in the middle of the page
  • The title should be bolded
  • Use uppercase and lowercase letters where necessary (called title capitalization)
  • Place this heading against the left margin
  • Use bold letters
  • Use uppercase and lowercase letters where necessary
  • Place this heading against the left side margin
  • End the heading with a period
  • Indented in from the left margin

Following general formatting rules, all headings are double spaced and there are no extra lines or spaces between sections.

Here is a visual APA format template for levels of headings:

example apa format headings

Use of graphics (tables and figures) in APA Format

If you’re looking to jazz up your project with any charts, tables, drawings, or images, there are certain APA format rules (pp. 195-250) to follow.

First and foremost, the only reason why any graphics should be added is to provide the reader with an easier way to see or read information, rather than typing it all out in the text.

Lots of numbers to discuss? Try organizing your information into a chart or table. Pie charts, bar graphs, coordinate planes, and line graphs are just a few ways to show numerical data, relationships between numbers, and many other types of information.

Instead of typing out long, drawn out descriptions, create a drawing or image. Many visual learners would appreciate the ability to look at an image to make sense of information.

Before you go ahead and place that graphic in your paper, here are a few key guidelines:

  • Follow them in the appropriate numerical order in which they appear in the text of your paper. Example : Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, Figure 3.
  • Example: Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, Figure 3
  • Only use graphics if they will supplement the material in your text. If they reinstate what you already have in your text, then it is not necessary to include a graphic.
  • Include enough wording in the graphic so that the reader is able to understand its meaning, even if it is isolated from the corresponding text. However, do not go overboard with adding a ton of wording in your graphic.
  • Left align tables and figures

In our APA format sample paper , you’ll find examples of tables after the references. You may also place tables and figures within the text just after it is mentioned.

Is there anything better than seeing a neatly organized data table? We think not! If you have tons of numbers or data to share, consider creating a table instead of typing out a wordy paragraph. Tables are pretty easy to whip up on Google Docs or Microsoft Word.

General format of a table should be:

  • Table number
  • Choose to type out your data OR create a table. As stated above, in APA format, you shouldn’t have the information typed out in your paper and also have a table showing the same exact information. Choose one or the other.
  • If you choose to create a table, discuss it very briefly in the text. Say something along the lines of, “Table 1 displays the amount of money used towards fighting Malaria.” Or, “Stomach cancer rates are displayed in Table 4.”
  • If you’re submitting your project for a class, place your table close to the text where it’s mentioned. If you’re submitting it to be published in a journal, most publishers prefer tables to be placed in the back. If you’re unsure where to place your tables, ask!
  • Include the table number first and at the top. Table 1 is the first table discussed in the paper. Table 2 is the next table mentioned, and so on. This should be in bold.
  • Add a title under the number. Create a brief, descriptive title. Capitalize the first letter for each important word. Italicize the title and place it under the table number.
  • Only use horizontal lines.
  • Limit use of cell shading.
  • Keep the font at 12-point size and use single or double spacing. If you use single spacing in one table, make sure all of the others use single spaces as well. Keep it consistent.
  • All headings should be centered.
  • In the first column (called the stub), center the heading, left-align the information underneath it (indent 0.15 inches if info is more than one line).
  • Information in other columns should be centered.
  • General . Information about the whole table.
  • Specific . Information targeted for a specific column, row, or cell.
  • Probability . Explains what certain table symbols mean. For example, asterisks,  p values, etc.

Here’s an APA format example of a table:

example apa format table

We know putting together a table is pretty tricky. That’s why we’ve included not one, but a few tables on this page. Scroll down and look at the additional tables in the essay in APA format example found below.

Figures represent information in a visual way. They differ from tables in that they are visually appealing. Sure, tables, like the one above, can be visually appealing, but it’s the color, circles, arrows, boxes, or icons included that make a figure a “figure.”

There are many commonly used figures in papers. Examples APA Format:

  • Photographs
  • Hierarchy charts

General format of a figure is the same as tables. This means each should include:

  • Figure number

Use the same formatting tables use for the number, title, and note.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to APA format for figures:

  • Only include a figure if it adds value to your paper. If it will truly help with understanding, include it!
  • Either include a figure OR write it all out in the text. Do not include the same information twice.
  • If a note is added, it should clearly explain the content of the figure. Include any reference information if it’s reproduced or adapted.

APA format sample of a figure:

example apa format figure

Photographs:

We live in a world where we have tons of photographs available at our fingertips.

Photographs found through Google Images, social media, stock photos made available from subscription sites, and tons of other various online sources make obtaining photographs a breeze. We can even pull out our cell phones, and in just a few seconds, take pictures with our cameras.

Photographs are simple to find, and because of this, many students enjoy using them in their papers.

If you have a photograph you would like to include in your project, here are some guidelines from the American Psychological Association.

  • Create a reference for the photograph. Follow the guidelines under the table and figure sections above.
  • Do not use color photos. It is recommended to use black and white. Colors can change depending on the reader’s screen resolution. Using black and white ensures the reader will be able to view the image clearly. The only time it is recommended to use color photos is if you’re writing about color-specific things. For example, if you’re discussing the various shades of leaf coloration, you may want to include a few photographs of colorful leaves.
  • If there are sections of the photograph that are not related to your work, it is acceptable to crop them out. Cropping is also beneficial in that it helps the reader focus on the main item you’re discussing.
  • If you choose to include an image of a person you know, it would be respectful if you ask their permission before automatically including their photo in your paper.  Some schools and universities post research papers online and some people prefer that their photos and information stay off the Internet.

B. Writing Style Tips

Writing a paper for scientific topics is much different than writing for English, literature, and other composition classes. Science papers are much more direct, clear, and concise. This section includes key suggestions, explains how to write in APA format, and includes other tidbits to keep in mind while formulating your research paper.

Verb usage in APA

Research experiments and observations rely on the creation and analysis of data to test hypotheses and come to conclusions. While sharing and explaining the methods and results of studies, science writers often use verbs.

When using verbs in writing, make sure that you continue to use them in the same tense throughout the section you’re writing. Further details are in the publication manual (p. 117).

Here’s an APA format example:

We tested the solution to identify the possible contaminants.

It wouldn’t make sense to add this sentence after the one above:

We tested the solution to identify the possible contaminants. Researchers often test solutions by placing them under a microscope.

Notice that the first sentence is in the past tense while the second sentence is in the present tense. This can be confusing for readers.

For verbs in scientific papers, the APA manual recommends using:

  • Past tense or present perfect tense for the explantation of the procedure
  • Past tense for the explanation of the results
  • Present tense for the explanation of the conclusion and future implications

If this is all a bit much, and you’re simply looking for help with your references, try the EasyBib.com APA format generator . Our APA formatter creates your references in just a few clicks. APA citation format is easier than you think thanks to our innovative, automatic tool.

Even though your writing will not have the same fluff and detail as other forms of writing, it should not be boring or dull to read. The Publication Manual suggests thinking about who will be the main reader of your work and to write in a way that educates them.

How to reduce bias & labels

The American Psychological Association strongly objects to any bias towards gender, racial groups, ages of individuals or subjects, disabilities, and sexual orientation (pp. 131-149). If you’re unsure whether your writing is free of bias and labels or not, have a few individuals read your work to determine if it’s acceptable.

Here are a few guidelines that the American Psychological Association suggests :

  • Only include information about an individual’s orientation or characteristic if it is important to the topic or study. Do not include information about individuals or labels if it is not necessary.
  • If writing about an individual’s characteristic or orientation, for essay APA format, make sure to put the person first. Instead of saying, “Diabetic patients,” say, “Patients who are diabetic.”
  • Instead of using narrow terms such as, “adolescents,” or “the elderly,” try to use broader terms such as, “participants,” and “subjects.”
  • “They” or “their” are acceptable gender-neutral pronouns to use.
  • Be mindful when using terms that end with “man” or “men” if they involve subjects who are female. For example, instead of using “Firemen,” use the term, “Firefighter.” In general, avoid ambiguity.
  • When referring to someone’s racial or ethnic identity, use the census category terms and capitalize the first letter. Also, avoid using the word, “minority,” as it can be interpreted as meaning less than or deficient. Instead, say “people of color” or “underrepresented groups.”
  • When describing subjects in APA format, use the words “girls” and “boys” for children who are under the age of 12. The terms, “young woman,” “young man,” “female adolescent,” and “male adolescent” are appropriate for subjects between 13-17 years old; “Men,” and “women,” for those older than 18. Use the term, “older adults.” for individuals who are older. “Elderly,” and “senior,” are not acceptable if used only as nouns. It is acceptable to use these terms if they’re used as adjectives.

Read through our example essay in APA format, found in section D, to see how we’ve reduced bias and labels.

Spelling in APA Format

  • In APA formatting, use the same spelling as words found in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (American English) (p. 161).
  • If the word you’re trying to spell is not found in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, a second resource is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary .
  • If attempting to properly spell words in the psychology field, consult the American Psychological Association’s Dictionary of Psychology

Thanks to helpful tools and features, such as the spell checker, in word processing programs, most of us think we have everything we need right in our document. However, quite a few helpful features are found elsewhere.

Where can you find a full grammar editor? Right here, on EasyBib.com. The EasyBib Plus paper checker scans your paper for spelling, but also for any conjunction , determiner, or adverb out of place. Try it out and unlock the magic of an edited paper.

Abbreviation do’s and don’ts in APA Format

Abbreviations can be tricky. You may be asking yourself, “Do I include periods between the letters?” “Are all letters capitalized?” “Do I need to write out the full name each and every time?” Not to worry, we’re breaking down the publication manual’s abbreviations (p. 172) for you here.

First and foremost, use abbreviations sparingly.

Too many and you’re left with a paper littered with capital letters mashed together. Plus, they don’t lend themselves to smooth and easy reading. Readers need to pause and comprehend the meaning of abbreviations and quite often stumble over them.

  • If the abbreviation is used less than three times in the paper, type it out each time. It would be pretty difficult to remember what an abbreviation or acronym stands for if you’re writing a lengthy paper.
  • If you decide to sprinkle in abbreviations,  it is not necessary to include periods between the letters.
  • Example: While it may not affect a patient’s short-term memory (STM), it may affect their ability to comprehend new terms. Patients who experience STM loss while using the medication should discuss it with their doctor.
  • Example : AIDS
  • The weight in pounds exceeded what we previously thought.

Punctuation in APA Format

One space after most punctuation marks.

The manual recommends using one space after most punctuation marks, including punctuation at the end of a sentence (p. 154). It doesn’t hurt to double check with your teacher or professor to ask their preference since this rule was changed recently (in 2020).

The official APA format book was primarily created to aid individuals with submitting their paper for publication in a professional journal. Many schools adopt certain parts of the handbook and modify sections to match their preference. To see an example of an APA format research paper, with the spacing we believe is most commonly and acceptable to use, scroll down and see section D.

For more information related to the handbook, including frequently asked questions, and more, here’s further reading on the style

It’s often a heated debate among writers whether or not to use an Oxford comma (p. 155), but for this style, always use an Oxford comma. This type of comma is placed before the words AND and OR or in a series of three items.

Example of APA format for commas: The medication caused drowsiness, upset stomach, and fatigue.

Here’s another example: The subjects chose between cold, room temperature, or warm water.

Apostrophes

When writing a possessive singular noun, you should place the apostrophe before the s. For possessive plural nouns, the apostrophe is placed after the s.

  • Singular : Linda Morris’s jacket
  • Plural : The Morris’ house

Em dashes (long dash) are used to bring focus to a particular point or an aside. There are no spaces after these dashes (p. 157).

Use en dashes (short dash) in compound adjectives. Do not place a space before or after the dash. Here are a few examples:

  • custom-built
  • 12-year-old

Number rules in APA Format

Science papers often include the use of numbers, usually displayed in data, tables, and experiment information. The golden rule to keep in mind is that numbers less than 10 are written out in text. If the number is more than 10, use numerals.

APA format examples:

  • 14 kilograms
  • seven individuals
  • 83 years old
  • Fourth grade

The golden rule for numbers has exceptions.

In APA formatting, use numerals if you are:

  • Showing numbers in a table or graph
  • 4 divided by 2
  • 6-month-olds

Use numbers written out as words if you are:

  • Ninety-two percent of teachers feel as though….
  • Hundred Years’ War
  • One-sixth of the students

Other APA formatting number rules to keep in mind:

  • World War II
  • Super Bowl LII
  • It’s 1980s, not 1980’s!

Additional number rules can be found in the publication manual (p. 178)

Need help with other writing topics? Our plagiarism checker is a great resource for anyone looking for writing help. Say goodbye to an out of place noun , preposition , or adjective, and hello to a fully edited paper.

Overview of APA references

While writing a research paper, it is always important to give credit and cite your sources; this lets you acknowledge others’ ideas and research you’ve used in your own work. Not doing so can be considered plagiarism , possibly leading to a failed grade or loss of a job.

APA style is one of the most commonly used citation styles used to prevent plagiarism. Here’s more on crediting sources . Let’s get this statement out of the way before you become confused: An APA format reference and an APA format citation are two different things! We understand that many teachers and professors use the terms as if they’re synonyms, but according to this specific style, they are two separate things, with different purposes, and styled differently.

A reference displays all of the information about the source — the title, the author’s name, the year it was published, the URL, all of it! References are placed on the final page of a research project.

Here’s an example of a reference:

Wynne-Jones, T. (2015). The emperor of any place . Candlewick Press.

An APA format citation is an APA format in-text citation. These are found within your paper, anytime a quote or paraphrase is included. They usually only include the name of the author and the date the source was published.

Here’s an example of one:

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is even discussed in the book, The Emperor of Any Place . The main character, Evan, finds a mysterious diary on his father’s desk (the same desk his father died on, after suffering from a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy attack). Evan unlocks the truth to his father and grandfather’s past (Wynne-Jones, 2015).

Both of the ways to credit another individual’s work — in the text of a paper and also on the final page — are key to preventing plagiarism. A writer must use both types in a paper. If you cite something in the text, it must have a full reference on the final page of the project. Where there is one, there must be the other!

Now that you understand that, here’s some basic info regarding APA format references (pp. 281-309).

  • Each reference is organized, or structured, differently. It all depends on the source type. A book reference is structured one way, an APA journal is structured a different way, a newspaper article is another way. Yes, it’s probably frustrating that not all references are created equal and set up the same way. MLA works cited pages are unique in that every source type is formatted the same way. Unfortunately, this style is quite different.
  • Most references follow this general format:

Author’s Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year published). Title of source . URL.

Again, as stated in the above paragraph, you must look up the specific source type you’re using to find out the placement of the title, author’s name, year published, etc.

For more information on APA format for sources and how to reference specific types of sources, use the other guides on EasyBib.com. Here’s another useful site .

Looking for a full visual of a page of references? Scroll down and take a peek at our APA format essay example towards the bottom of this page. You’ll see a list of references and you can gain a sense of how they look.

Bonus: here’s a link to more about the fundamentals related to this particular style. If you want to brush up or catch up on the Modern Language Association’s style, here’s a great resource on how to cite websites in MLA .

In-text APA citation format

Did you find the perfect quote or piece of information to include in your project? Way to go! It’s always a nice feeling when we find that magical piece of data or info to include in our writing. You probably already know that you can’t just copy and paste it into your project, or type it in, without also providing credit to the original author.

Displaying where the original information came from is much easier than you think.Directly next to the quote or information you included, place the author’s name and the year nearby. This allows the reader of your work to see where the information originated.

APA allows for the use of two different forms of in-text citation, parenthetical and narrative Both forms of citation require two elements:

  • author’s name
  • year of publication

The only difference is the way that this information is presented to the reader.

Parenthetical citations are the more commonly seen form of in-text citations for academic work, in which both required reference elements are presented at the end of the sentence in parentheses. Example:

Harlem had many artists and musicians in the late 1920s (Belafonte, 2008).

Narrative citations allow the author to present one or both of the required reference elements inside of the running sentence, which prevents the text from being too repetitive or burdensome. When only one of the two reference elements is included in the sentence, the other is provided parenthetically. Example:

According to Belafonte (2008), Harlem was full of artists and musicians in the late 1920s.

If there are two authors listed in the source entry, then the parenthetical reference must list them both:

(Smith & Belafonte, 2008)

If there are three or more authors listed in the source entry, then the parenthetical reference can abbreviate with “et al.”, the latin abbreviation for “and others”:

(Smith et al., 2008)

The author’s names are structured differently if there is more than one author. Things will also look different if there isn’t an author at all (which is sometimes the case with website pages). For more information on APA citation format, check out this page on the topic: APA parenthetical citation and APA in-text citation . There is also more information in the official manual in chapter 8.

If it’s MLA in-text and parenthetical citations you’re looking for, we’ve got your covered there too! You might want to also check out his guide on parenthetical citing .

Would you benefit from having a tool that helps you easily generate citations that are in the text? Check out EasyBib Plus!

apa style essays examples

References page in APA Format

An APA format reference page is easier to create than you probably think. We go into detail on how to create this page on our APA reference page . We also have a guide for how to create an annotated bibliography in APA . But, if you’re simply looking for a brief overview of the reference page, we’ve got you covered here.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to the references page in APA format:

  • This VIP page has its very own page. Start on a fresh, clean document (p. 303).
  • Center and bold the title “References” (do not include quotation marks, underline, or italicize this title).
  • Alphabetize and double-space ALL entries.
  • Use a readable font, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or Lucida (p. 44).
  • Every quote or piece of outside information included in the paper should be referenced and have an entry.
  • Even though it’s called a “reference page,” it can be longer than one page. If your references flow onto the next page, then that’s a-okay.
  • Only include the running head if it is required by your teacher or you’re writing a professional paper.

Sample reference page for a student paper:

Here’s another friendly reminder to use the EasyBib APA format generator (that comes with EasyBib Plus) to quickly and easily develop every single one of your references for you. Try it out! Our APA formatter is easy to use and ready to use 24/7.

Final APA Format Checklist

Prior to submitting your paper, check to make sure you have everything you need and everything in its place:

  • Did you credit all of the information and quotes you used in the body of your paper and show a matching full reference at the end of the paper? Remember, you need both! Need more information on how to credit other authors and sources? Check out our other guides, or use the EasyBib APA format generator to credit your sources quickly and easily. EasyBib.com also has more styles than just the one this page focuses on.
  • 12-pt. Times New Roman
  • 11-pt. Calibri, Arial, Georgia
  • 10-pt. Lucida, Sans Unicode, Computer Modern
  • If you created an abstract, is it directly after the title page? Some teachers and professors do not require an abstract, so before you go ahead and include it, make sure it’s something he or she is expecting.
  • Professional paper — Did you include a running head on every single page of your project?
  • Student paper — Did you include page numbers in the upper right-hand corner of all your pages?
  • Are all headings, as in section or chapter titles, properly formatted? If you’re not sure, check section number 9.
  • Are all tables and figures aligned properly? Did you include notes and other important information directly below the table or figure? Include any information that will help the reader completely understand everything in the table or figure if it were to stand alone.
  • Are abbreviations used sparingly? Did you format them properly?
  • Is the entire document double spaced?
  • Are all numbers formatted properly? Check section 17, which is APA writing format for numbers.
  • Did you glance at the sample paper? Is your assignment structured similarly? Are all of the margins uniform?

Submitting Your APA Paper

Congratulations for making it this far! You’ve put a lot of effort into writing your paper and making sure the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. If you’re planning to submit your paper for a school assignment, make sure you review your teacher or professor’s procedures.

If you’re submitting your paper to a journal, you probably need to include a cover letter.

Most cover letters ask you to include:

  • The author’s contact information.
  • A statement to the editor that the paper is original.
  • If a similar paper exists elsewhere, notify the editor in the cover letter.

Once again, review the specific journal’s website for exact specifications for submission.

Okay, so you’re probably thinking you’re ready to hit send or print and submit your assignment. Can we offer one last suggestion? We promise it will only take a minute.

Consider running your paper through our handy dandy paper checker. It’s pretty simple.

Copy and paste or upload your paper into our checker. Within a minute, we’ll provide feedback on your spelling and grammar. If there’s a pronoun , interjection , or verb out of place, we’ll highlight it and offer suggestions for improvement. We’ll even take it a step further and point out any instances of possible plagiarism.

If it sounds too good to be true, then head on over to our innovative tool and give it a whirl. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

What is APA Format?

APA stands for the American Psychological Association . In this guide, you’ll find information related to “What is APA format?” in relation to writing and organizing your paper according to the American Psychological Association’s standards. Information on how to cite sources can be found on our APA citation page. The official American Psychological Association handbook was used as a reference for our guide and we’ve included page numbers from the manual throughout. However, this page is not associated with the association.

You’ll most likely use APA format if your paper is on a scientific topic. Many behavioral and social sciences use this organization’s standards and guidelines.

What are behavioral sciences? Behavioral sciences study human and animal behavior. They can include:

  • Cognitive Science
  • Neuroscience

What are social sciences? Social sciences focus on one specific aspect of human behavior, specifically social and cultural relationships. Social sciences can include:

  • Anthropology
  • Political Science
  • Human Geography
  • Archaeology
  • Linguistics

What’s New in the 7th Edition?

This citation style was created by the American Psychological Association. Its rules and guidelines can be found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . The information provided in the guide above follows the 6th edition (2009) of the manual. The 7th edition was published in 2020 and is the most recent version.

The 7th edition of the Publication Manual is in full color and includes 12 sections (compared to 8 sections in the 6th edition). In general, this new edition differentiates between professional and student papers, includes guidance with accessibility in mind, provides new examples to follow, and has updated guidelines.We’ve selected a few notable updates below, but for a full view of all of the 7th edition changes visit the style’s website linked here .

  • Paper title
  • Student name
  • Affiliation (e.g., school, department, etc.)
  • Course number and title
  • Course instructor
  • 6th edition – Running head: SMARTPHONE EFFECTS ON ADOLESCENT SOCIALIZATION
  • 7th edition – SMARTPHONE EFFECTS ON ADOLESCENT SOCIALIZATION
  • Pronouns . “They” can be used as a gender-neutral pronoun.
  • Bias-free language guidelines . There are updated and new sections on guidelines for this section. New sections address participation in research, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality.
  • Spacing after sentences. Add only a single space after end punctuation.
  • Tables and figures . The citing format is now streamlined so that both tables and figures should include a name and number above the table/figure, and a note underneath the table/figure.
  • 6th ed. – (Ikemoto, Richardson, Murphy, Yoshida 2016)
  • 7th ed. – (Ikemoto et al., 2016)
  • Citing books. The location of the publisher can be omitted. Also, e-books no longer need to mention the format (e.g., Kindle, etc.)
  • Example: https://doi.org/10.1038/s42255-019-0153-5
  • Using URLs. URLs no longer need to be prefaced by the words “Retrieved from.”

New citing information . There is new guidance on citing classroom or intranet resources, and oral traditions or traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples.

Visit our EasyBib Twitter feed to discover more citing tips, fun grammar facts, and the latest product updates.

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) (2020). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

apa format

Published October 31, 2011. Updated May 14, 2020.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

APA Formatting Guide

APA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • Multiple Authors
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Parenthetical Citations
  • Sample Paper
  • View APA Guide

Citation Examples

  • Book Chapter
  • Journal Article
  • Magazine Article
  • Newspaper Article
  • Website (no author)
  • View all APA Examples

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We should not use “et al.” in APA reference list entries. If the number of authors in the source is up to and including 20, list all author names and use an ampersand (&) before the final author’s name. If the number of authors is more than 20, list the first 19 authors’ names followed by an ellipsis (but no ampersand), and then add the final author’s name. An example of author names in a reference entry having more than 20 authors is given below:

Author Surname1, F. M., Author Surname2, F. M., Author Surname3, F. M., Author Surname4, F. M., Author Surname5, F. M., Author Surname6, F. M., Author Surname7, F. M., Author Surname8, F. M., Author Surname9, F. M., Author Surname10, F. M., Author Surname11, F. M., Author Surname12, F. M., Author Surname13, F. M., Author Surname14, F. M., Author Surname15, F. M., Author Surname16, F. M., Author Surname17, F. M., Author Surname18, F. M., Author Surname19, F. M., . . .  Last Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year).

Alvarez, L. D., Peach, J. L., Rodriguez, J. F., Donald, L., Thomas, M., Aruck, A., Samy, K., Anthony, K., Ajey, M., Rodriguez, K. L., Katherine, K., Vincent, A., Pater, F., Somu, P., Pander, L., Berd, R., Fox, L., Anders, A., Kamala, W., . . . Nicole Jones, K. (2019).

Note that, unlike references with 2 to 20 author names, the symbol “&” is not used here before the last author’s name.

APA 7, released in October 2019, has some new updates. Here is a brief description of the updates made in APA 7.

Different types of papers and best practices are given in detail in Chapter 1.

How to format a student title page is explained in Chapter 2. Examples of a professional paper and a student paper are included.

Chapter 3 provides additional information on qualitative and mixed methods of research.

An update on writing style is included in Chapter 4.

In chapter 5, some best practices for writing with bias-free language are included.

Chapter 6 gives some updates on style elements including using a single space after a period, including a citation with an abbreviation, the treatment of numbers in abstracts, treatment for different types of lists, and the formatting of gene and protein names.

In Chapter 7, additional examples are given for tables and figures for different types of publications.

In Chapter 8, how to format quotations and how to paraphrase text are covered with additional examples. A simplified version of in-text citations is clearly illustrated.

Chapter 9 has many updates: listing all author names up to 20 authors, standardizing DOIs and URLs, and the formatting of an annotated bibliography.

Chapter 10 includes many examples with templates for all reference types. New rules covering the inclusion of the issue number for journals and the omission of publisher location from book references are provided. Explanations of how to cite YouTube videos, power point slides, and TED talks are included.

Chapter 11 includes many legal references for easy understanding.

Chapter 12 provides advice for authors on how to promote their papers.

For more information on some of the changes found in APA 7, check out this EasyBib article .

APA Citation Examples

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  • Knowledge Base
  • APA Style 7th edition
  • APA headings and subheadings

APA Headings and Subheadings | With Sample Paper

Published on November 7, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on October 24, 2022.

Headings and subheadings provide structure to a document. They signal what each section is about and allow for easy navigation of the document.

APA headings have five possible levels. Each heading level is formatted differently.

APA headings (7th edition)

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Table of contents

Additional guidelines for apa headings, how many heading levels should you use, when to use which apa heading level, section labels vs headings, sample paper with apa headings, using heading styles in word or google docs.

As well as the heading styles, there are some other guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Double-space all text, including the headings.
  • Use the same font for headings and body text (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt.).
  • Don’t label headings with numbers or letters.
  • Don’t add extra “enters” above or below headings.

Scribbr Citation Checker New

The AI-powered Citation Checker helps you avoid common mistakes such as:

  • Missing commas and periods
  • Incorrect usage of “et al.”
  • Ampersands (&) in narrative citations
  • Missing reference entries

apa style essays examples

Depending on the length and complexity of your paper, you may not use all five heading levels. In fact, shorter student papers may have no headings at all.

It’s also perfectly fine for some sections in your paper to go as deep as five levels, where others use only heading level 1.

Heading level 1 is used for main sections like “ Methods ”, “ Results ”, and “ Discussion ”. There is no “ Introduction ” heading at the beginning of your paper because the first paragraphs are understood to be introductory.

Heading level 2 is used for subsections under level 1. For example, under “Methods” (level 1) you may have subsections for “Sampling Method” and “Data Analysis” (level 2). This continues all the way down to heading level 5.

Always use at least two subheadings or none at all. If there is just one subheading, the top-level heading is sufficient.

In addition to regular headings, APA works with “section labels” for specific parts of the paper. They’re similar to headings but are formatted differently. Section labels are placed on a separate line at the top of a new page in bold and centered.

Use section labels for the following sections in an APA formatted paper :

  • Author note
  • Paper title
  • Reference page

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APA heading example (7th edition)

Instead of formatting every heading individually, you can use the “Styles” feature in Word or Google Docs. This allows you to save the styling and apply it with just a click.

The first time you use APA Style, you need to update the default heading styles to reflect the APA heading guidelines. Click here for the instructions for Microsoft Word and Google Docs .

An added benefit of using the “Styles” feature is that you can automatically generate a table of contents .

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

General Format

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.

You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel .

General APA Guidelines

Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides.   Include a page header (also known as the “ running head ”) at the top of every page. For a professional paper, this includes your paper title and the page number. For a student paper, this only includes the page number. To create a page header/running head , insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.

The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual requires that the chosen font be accessible (i.e., legible) to all readers and that it be used consistently throughout the paper. It acknowledges that many font choices are legitimate, and it advises writers to check with their publishers, instructors, or institutions for guidance in cases of uncertainty.

While the APA Manual does not specify a single font or set of  fonts for professional writing, it does recommend a few fonts that are widely available. These include sans serif fonts such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, and 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode as well as serif fonts such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, 10-point Computer Modern.

Major Paper Sections

Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page , Abstract , Main Body , and References .

Note: APA 7 provides slightly different directions for formatting the title pages of professional papers (e.g., those intended for scholarly publication) and student papers (e.g., those turned in for credit in a high school or college course).

The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name , and the institutional affiliation . A professional paper should also include the author note . A student paper should also include the course number and name , instructor name , and assignment due date .

Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. The title should be centered and written in boldface. APA recommends that your title be focused and succinct and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.

Beneath the title, type the author's name : first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).

Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation , which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.

A professional paper should include the author note beneath the institutional affiliation, in the bottom half of the title page. This should be divided up into several paragraphs, with any paragraphs that are not relevant omitted. The first paragraph should include the author’s name, the symbol for the ORCID iD, and the URL for the ORCID iD. Any authors who do not have an ORCID iD should be omitted. The second paragraph should show any change in affiliation or any deaths of the authors. The third paragraph should include any disclosures or acknowledgements, such as study registration, open practices and data sharing, disclosure of related reports and conflicts of interest, and acknowledgement of financial support and other assistance. The fourth paragraph should include contact information for the corresponding author.

A student paper should not include an author note.

Note again that page headers/page numbers (described above for professional and student papers) also appear at the top of the title page. In other words, a professional paper's title page will include the title of the paper flush left in all capitals and the page number flush right, while a student paper will only contain the page number flush right.

Student APA title page

This image shows the title page for a student APA seventh edition paper.

Title page for a student paper in APA 7 style.

Professional paper APA title page

This image shows the title page for a professional APA seventh edition paper.

Title page for a professional paper in APA 7 style.

Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center and bold the word “Abstract” (no italics, underlining, or quotation marks).

Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced. Your abstract should typically be no more than 250 words.

You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.

Abstracts are common in scholarly journal articles and are not typically required for student papers unless advised by an instructor. If you are unsure whether or not your work requires an abstract, consult your instructor for further guidance.

APA Abstract Page

This image shows the title page for a student APA seventh edition paper.

Abstract page for a student paper in APA 7 style.

Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.

How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA

Individual resources.

The page template for the new OWL site does not include contributors' names or the page's last edited date. However, select pages  still include this information.

In the absence of contributor/edit date information, treat the page as a source with a group author and use the abbreviation "n.d." for "no date":

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.).  Title of resource.  Purdue Online Writing Lab. http://Web address for OWL resource

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.).  General Writing FAQs. Purdue Online Writing Lab. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/general_writing_faqs.html

The generic APA citation for OWL pages, which includes author/edit date information, is this:

Contributors' names. (Last edited date).  Title of resource . Site Name. http://Web address for OWL resource

Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style  can be found here .

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COMMENTS

  1. Sample papers

    These sample papers demonstrate APA Style formatting standards for different student paper types. Students may write the same types of papers as professional authors (e.g., quantitative studies, literature reviews) or other types of papers for course assignments (e.g., reaction or response papers, discussion posts), dissertations, and theses.

  2. APA Sample Paper

    However, for your convenience, we have provided two versions of our APA 7 sample paper below: one in student style and one in professional style. Note: For accessibility purposes, we have used "Track Changes" to make comments along the margins of these samples. Those authored by [AF] denote explanations of formatting and [AWC] denote directions ...

  3. APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.)

    Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines: Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides. Double-space all text, including headings. Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches. Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.).

  4. PDF APA 7 Student Sample Paper

    In this sample paper, we've put four blank lines above the title. Commented [AF3]: Authors' names are written below the title, with one double-spaced blank line between them. Names should be written as follows: First name, middle initial(s), last name. Commented [AF4]: Authors' affiliations follow immediately after their names.

  5. APA Style

    When writing an APA-style paper, sometimes a sample paper is the best reference! OWL has a collection of sample papers to help guide you. ... Process Essay From a Beginning Writing Class (traditional style) Process Essay From a Biology Class (lab report) Proposal Argumentative Essay.

  6. APA Essay Format: How to Write a Successful APA Essay

    If the essay is in a chapter of a book, edited collection, or anthology, APA format states that you should cite the last name, first name, title of essay, title of collection, publisher, year, and page range. For example: Smith, John, "The Light House," A Book of Poems, editing by Peter Roberts, Allworth Press, 2005, pp. 20-25.

  7. APA Format: Guidelines, Tips, and Examples

    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.

  8. APA Sample Papers

    We've included a full student paper below to give you an idea of what an essay in APA format looks like, complete with a title page, paper, reference list, and index. If you plan to include an APA abstract in your paper, see the Professional Paper for an example. If you're looking for an APA format citation generator, we've got you covered.

  9. A step-by-step guide for creating and formatting APA Style student papers

    This article walks through the formatting steps needed to create an APA Style student paper, starting with a basic setup that applies to the entire paper (margins, font, line spacing, paragraph alignment and indentation, and page headers). It then covers formatting for the major sections of a student paper: the title page, the text, tables and ...

  10. PDF APA 7th ed. (Student version) Sample Paper (Final)

    APA Citation Style: A Sample . m. Student's Name . Department's name, University of Hawai'i - West O'ahu . PSY 250: Social Psychology . Instructor's name . October 23, 2020 . This paper follows the Student version . of the 7th edition of the APA manual. Note that there is no Running head in the Student version of the 7th edition of the ...

  11. Fillable Template and Sample Paper

    Download this Word document, fill out the title page and get writing! Sample Paper APA 7th ed. Our APA sample paper shows you how to format the main parts of a basic research paper.

  12. APA Format: Everything You Need to Know Here

    APA 7, released in October 2019, has some new updates. Here is a brief description of the updates made in APA 7. Different types of papers and best practices are given in detail in Chapter 1. How to format a student title page is explained in Chapter 2. Examples of a professional paper and a student paper are included.

  13. APA Style

    The authority on APA Style and the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual. Find tutorials, the APA Style Blog, how to format papers in APA Style, and other resources to help you improve your writing, master APA Style, and learn the conventions of scholarly publishing.

  14. APA Formatting and Style Guide (7th Edition)

    Basic guidelines for formatting the reference list at the end of a standard APA research paper Author/Authors Rules for handling works by a single author or multiple authors that apply to all APA-style references in your reference list, regardless of the type of work (book, article, electronic resource, etc.)

  15. How to Cite in APA Format (7th edition)

    APA Style is widely used by students, researchers, and professionals in the social and behavioral sciences. Scribbr's APA Citation Generator automatically generates accurate references and in-text citations for free.. This citation guide outlines the most important citation guidelines from the 7th edition APA Publication Manual (2020). Scribbr also offers free guides for the older APA 6th ...

  16. APA Format (6th ed.) for Academic Papers and Essays [Template]

    The most important APA format guidelines in the 6th edition are: Use 12 pt Times New Roman. Set 1 inch page margins. Apply double line spacing. Insert a running head on every page. Indent every new paragraph ½ inch.

  17. APA Headings and Subheadings

    Headings and subheadings provide structure to a document. They signal what each section. is about and allow for easy navigation of the document. APA headings have five possible levels. Each heading level is formatted differently. Note: Title case simply means that you should capitalize the first word, words with four or more letters, and all ...

  18. PDF 7th edition Common Reference Examples Guide

    This guide contains examples of common types of APA Style references. Section numbers indicate where to find the examples in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). More information on references and reference examples are in Chapters 9 and 10 of the Publication Manual as well as the Concise Guide to APA ...

  19. General Format

    General APA Guidelines. Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. Include a page header (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. For a professional paper, this includes your paper title and the page number. For a student paper, this only includes the ...