How to Create a Case Study Using APA Format

With a case study, you provide an in-depth observation into an event, process or person. A well-written case study requires planning and thought to properly analyze the situation and offer possible solutions. When your professor requests that you write your paper in American Psychological Association style, he is looking for a particular format and structure.

Format Guidelines

The sixth edition of the “Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association” provides general instructions on how to format your case study. Your paper should be double-spaced and have a 1-inch margin on all sides. The APA recommends you use 12-point Times New Roman font. When you indent the first line of a paragraph, use one-half inch indentations. APA style recommends that your case study feature a title page, abstract (if required), main body and references. Your running head lies at the top of each page in your header. This should feature your title on the flush left hand side and your page numbers on the flush right hand side. Your title is limited to 50 characters in the running head. If you need to condense it, select only the keywords. Type your title in all capital letters and use Arabic numerals for your page numbers.

Title Page and Abstract

In APA style, your title page and abstract are separate pages. For your title page, your running head is slightly different. Before your title, include the words “Running head” and a colon. For the rest of this page, list your case study’s title, your first and last name and your university’s name. This information should be centered in the upper half of the page.

For your abstract, write a paragraph that serves as a summary of your paper. For a case study, this should include what you investigated, the characteristics of your participants, the experimental method you used and any findings or conclusions you reached. In APA style, this paragraph should be 200 to 250 words in length.

In-Text Citations

With APA format, when you quote, paraphrase or summarize someone else’s work, you must list the author’s name and the year of publication. If it is a direct quotation or summary, you must include the page number. To enhance readability, try to incorporate the author’s name into your sentence and then write the year and the page number in parentheses. As an example on the Purdue Online Writing Lab states, “According to Jones (1998), 'Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time' (p. 199)." If it is impossible to include the author’s name in your text, place your in-text citation as close as possible to the material you cited. The Pearson Education chapter entitled "APA Documetation with Case Study" uses the following example: “People from the Mediterranean prefer an elbow-to-shoulder distance from each other" (Morris, 1977).


Following your text, you must supply a complete bibliographical list for your readers. In APA style, alphabetize the entries by the author’s last name. Most citations include four main parts: author’s name, date, title of the article and publication information. A general guideline for APA format is the author’s last name, a comma, first initial and a period. Next, place the year of publication within parentheses; place a period outside the final parenthesis. Type the title in italics and sentence case followed by a period. Finally, write the city of publication, a colon, the publisher’s name and end with a period. A finished entry might look like this:

Wood, P. (2003). Diversity: The invention of a concept. San Francisco: Encounter Books.

About the Author

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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