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APA Style Essay Format

APA Style Essay Format

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. It is a citation style that is most commonly used to format papers on psychology. Additionally, this style is utilized in works on humanities, education, nursing, and social sciences. EssayPro's handy guide will show you how to properly format your paper in APA style.

Table Of Contents

How to write in APA

The general format consists of the following rules:

  • Clear font: Times New Roman 12pt font double spaced
  • 1” margins on all sides
  • Include heading on the top of every page that includes the shortened title of your essay (>50 characters)
  • Use a clear font that is highly readable
  • Insert a page number on the right
  • APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font

Additionally, the APA essay format is divided into four parts:

  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Main Body
  • References

The cover page is the first page of your essay. The abstract is the next page, then the main body. The last page is the bibliography otherwise called the “References” page.

Title Page

  • The title page, also called the cover page, should include the title of your paper, your name, and the name of your institution.

  • You should include a page header on the left of your paper. Your page number should go on the right.

  • All text in your article, including the title page, should be double-spaced.

  • Your title should be centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends keeping the title short (≤12 words). Make sure your title contains no abbreviations or words with no purpose.

Heading examples

APA style title examples

  • Example of a BAD title: How is AAV Harmful to the American Education System and Possible Solutions to the Issue

  • Example of a GOOD title: African American Vernacular and the American Education System

The bad example contains 15 words and an abbreviation. The good example is shorter and contains no abbreviation.

After the title, type your full name: first, middle initial(s), and last name(s). Do not, however, include titles such as Dr. or degrees (Ph.D.). Beneath your name, type your institutional affiliation. That would be your school, university, or anything else of that matter.


  • Your abstract should be on the following page after your title page. Your abstract should already include the header on the top left.
  • On the 1st line, center the word “Abstract”. It should not have any additional formatting (no bold, italics, underlining, quotation marks, etc.)
  • Next, write an abstract. Your abstract is a concise summary of what your research was about. It should contain:
  • Research question
  • Participants
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Data analysis
  • Conclusion
  • Your abstract should be between 150-250 words.
  • It is optional to list keywords in your abstract. You have to create a new paragraph and type keywords in italics and then list your keywords.

Note that some teachers/professors maybe have deviations to some of the characteristics that the APA format originally requires, such as those listed above.


APA Style Essay Format

Style Guide with Examples

The last page of your paper should be a References page. Here are the most common citation examples:

  • How to Cite Books: Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year of Publication). The title of work. Publisher City, State: Publisher.

    • Example: Miller, A.(1953). The Crucible. New York: Viking Press.
  • How to Cite E-Books: Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year of Publication). The title of work [E-Reader Version]. Retrieved from {link}

    • Example: Miller, A. (2008). The Crucible [Kindle Version]. Retrieved from {link}
  • How to Cite a Film: Producer [last name], A.A. [first name middle initial] (Producer), & Director, A.A. (Director). (Release Year). The title of motion picture [Motion Picture]. Country of Origin: Studio

    • Example: Hitchcock, A. (Producer & Director). (1960). Psycho [Motion Picture]. United States: Paramount.
  • How to Cite a Photograph: Photographer, A.A.. (Photographer). (Year, Month Date of Publication). Title of photograph [photograph]. City, State of publication: Publisher/museum.

    • Example: Adams, A. (Photographer). (1942). Close-up of leaves In Glacier National Park (1942) [photograph]. New York, NY: New-York Historical Society.
  • How to Cite a Website: Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month Date of Publication). Article title.
    Retrieved from {link}

    • Example: Monbiot, G. (2014, October 14). The Age of Loneliness is Killing Us. Retrieved from {link}
  • How to Cite a Journal: Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Publication Year). Article title. Periodical Title, Volume (Issue), pp.-pp.

    • Example: Bellamy, M. (1999). Show-Business: A Chain of Inspiration. Music Theory Today: Influence of Alternative Rock. 13(3-4), 147-148.
  • How to Cite a Newspaper: Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month Date of Publication). Article title. Magazine Title, pp. xx-xx.

    • Example: Maly, S. (2017, January 15). How to Write an Essay Online APA Style. Essaypro, pp 9-12.

APA Citation Guide

When constructing APA Style in-text citations, you need to do the following:

  • Capitalize author name and initial.

  • When referring to the title of the source, capitalize all the letters.

  • Italicize or underline titles of longer works such as books, movies, documentaries, music albums, and television series.

  • Put quotations around articles, television series episodes, and song titles.

  • In short quotes (>40 words) you will want to introduce the phrase with the author’s last name and include the date of publication in parenthesis. At the end of the quote, you will need to add a page number for reference.

  • If the author is not named, place the author’s name, year of publication, and page number in parentheses after the quotation.

  • In quotations that are over 40 words, block quotes are used. Indent the quote ½ from the left margin in a new paragraph. The citation should come after the punctuation mark.

When summarizing or paraphrasing, you input your in-text reference (author and year of publication). The page number is optional.


APA Style Outline

It is the best to keep track of your sources. You can do so by listing a point and adding information (Author name, page number, URL) in the subheading.

Format template:

Keep in mind that when writing an outline, your information in headings should be of equal importance.

  • The main point of paragraph #1
  • From: source.
  • Subpoint of paragraph
  • From: source
  • The main point of paragraph #2
  • From: source
  • Subpoint of paragraph
  • From: source
  • The main point of paragraph #3
  • Subpoint of paragraph
  • From: source

Reference Page

A References page usually appears at the end of the paper. In other paper formatting styles, it may be called “Bibliography” or “Works Cited.”

  • Center “References” at the top of your page. Do not boldface, underline, or put quotation marks around it.

  • Your reference page should be double-spaced.
    All lines after the first line in your reference list should have a hanging indent. Indent one-half an inch from the left margin.

  • Authors names are “last name, first name.” If the piece has more than one author, list their names as initials.

  • Your list should be in alphabetical order.

  • Italicize books and journals. Put quotes around articles and essays.

Writer's Advice

This style is incredibly useful to learn, especially if you are studying in the American system of education. Most of my orders require me to cite things in APA. Something most people forget to include in their formatted paper is a running head at the top of each page. This is a fairly big issue, as it is an important and a prominent part of the APA style. Here’s a quick run-down of how to format the running head on Microsoft Word: simply double click the header area of the document. A “Header and footer tools design” tab will come up. Select Options and select Different first Page. As the article states, the first page differs from the second page. On page 1, put your header with “Running head:” in front, and on page two put your header (may or may not be abbreviated) without “Running head” in front. Good luck formatting your essay and don’t forget your Running head!

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