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How to Format an Essay in Basic APA Style


American Psychological Association (APA) format is commonly required at the college level for many subjects within the social sciences. Therefore, it is beneficial to understand the basics of the style. All sections of the paper must be typed double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman with 1-inch margins on standard-sized paper.

Title Page

The title page includes the title, the author's name and the name of the institution. The title must be centered in the upper half of the page with the author's and institution's names each on their own lines underneath. In the header of the page, as well as all pages of the essay, include a running head -- a shortened version of the title with 50 characters or fewer -- in capital letters in the top right corner and page number in the top left corner.

Abstract and Body of Paper

After the title page is the abstract. This page contains the title "Abstract" centered at the top, followed by a one-paragraph summary of the essay that is 150 to 250 words long. Do not indent the first sentence of the abstract paragraph. However, all other paragraphs in the body of the paper should be indented. Keywords relating to the essay can also be included after the abstract paragraph in italics. The body of the paper begins on the next page after the abstract with the title of the essay centered at the top.

Citations and Reference Page

Place in-text citations in parentheses at the end of a sentence, before the period. Include the last names of the source authors in alphabetical order, followed by the publication year. A citation for a source with two authors looks like this: (Berry & Harlow, 1993)

Also include the page number in the citation if a direct quote is used: (Berry & Harlow, 1993, p. 29)

Citations on the reference page differ slightly depending on the type of source, but must include author names, title of source, page number or web URL and publication date. For example, a reference to a journal article would be formatted like this:

Author Last Name, First Name. (Year). Title of article. Tittle of Journal, Volume Number(Issue Number), Pages

Scruton, R. (1996). The eclipse of listening. The New Criterion, 15(3), 5-13.

Italicize the title of the journal and volume number. All lines of the citation after the first should be indented.

About the Author

Based in Gatineau, Canada, Kat Walcott has been writing entertainment and informative articles since 2008. Her work has appeared in major publications including Her Campus, Equals6 and Uppercase. She holds an honors diploma in social science from Heritage College and is currently majoring in communication studies and minoring in sexuality studies.

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