How to Answer Essay Questions Using APA Format

APA Format refers to the conventions the American Psychological Association gives in the "Publication Manual of the APA,." The manual lays out guidelines on how to format your paper and cite any sources you reference. It also offers advice about prose style. To answer essay questions in APA format, you will need to format your paper and cite your sources in accordance with the current edition of the "Publication Manual." APA citations involve two parts: an in-text citation and an entry on your references page.

Format your essay properly. Type your answer on standard 8.5-inch by 11-inch white paper. Set your margins to 1 inch on all sides, which is the default setting in Microsoft Word and other word processing programs. Double-space your answer. Set your font to 12 point Times New Roman.

Give the author's last name to begin citing your source in-text. You can either refer to the author in the body of your sentence or place his name in parentheses following your sentence. For example:

Dawkins concludes that. . .


Much evidence exists for special evolution (Dawkins).

Give the year your source was published to complete your in-text citation. Place it in parentheses following your sentence; if it appears in parentheses next to the author's last name, separate the two using a comma:

Dawkins concludes that (2009). . .


Much evidence exists for special evolution (Dawkins, 2009).

Give publication information for your source to complete your reference page entry. For a book, give your reader the following information: the author's last name and initials, the year of publication in parentheses, the book's title in italics and sentence case, the place of publication and the name of the publisher. For example:

Dawkins, R. (2009). The Greatest Show on Earth: The evidence for evolution. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

If your source is an article published in a scientific journal, give the following information: the author's last name, initials, the year of publication in parentheses, the article's title in sentence case, the journal's title in italics, the volume number, the issue number in parentheses and the page numbers it occupies.

Lupin, R. J.. (1987). Effects of moon light on mammalian species. Journal of American Biology, 34, 732-745.


  • "Publication Manual of the APA"; American Psychological Association; 2009

About the Author

Thomas Colbyry is a writer living in Marquette, Mich. Currently pursuing a B.A. in English, he works as a writing tutor and contributes book reviews to several publications. Colbyry often covers topics related to literature, specializing in early modern, Restoration, 18th-century and Victorian British literature, as well as the literature of Japan.