How to Answer Essay Questions Using APA Format

APA, which stands for American Psychological Association, is a format or editorial style created to standardize scientific writing. It is often used as a format when you are writing reviews, articles, reports and term papers. When writing the answer to essay questions for an exam or assignment, you may be asked to follow a certain writing style guideline, including APA. These guidelines generally refer to style, page formatting and citations.


When typing out the answer to an essay question, follow the general APA guidelines for formatting your page.

Use 1-inch margins on all sides and a 12-point font -- preferably Times New Roman.

Double-space your document and omit a title page, unless you are specifically requested to include it. Instead, place your title at the top of your paper, centered, followed by your name and the course name.

Double-space and begin your essay question answer on the same page, indenting every paragraph.

Style and Voice

APA allows the use of first person point-of-view when discussing research steps. For example, when discussing any conclusion reached, it is appropriate to say, "I found that...”

Answer your essay question in a straightforward manner and avoid using poetic language and devices. For example, try not to use metaphors or analogies in your answer. Precise, clear language that is absent of any bias is preferred.

In-text Citations

When discussing any research via a summary or paraphrase, include an in-text citation following the author-date citation system. Include the last name of the author and year of publication from your research.

You can do this in your sentence or following your sentence in parentheses.

For example:

Brown (2012) states that….


Research suggests that… (Brown, 2012)

Add page numbers any time you include a direct quotation.

For example:

Brown (2012) states, "There was a direct correlation between both studies" (p.12).


Following your essay question, include a reference or citation that gives further information about your sources. Include the author's last name, his first initial, the date and the title of the book (in italics) and publication information.

For example:

Brown, A. (2012). History of animal kingdoms. New York, NY: Perennial Publishers

If you are using a journal article as a reference, include the journal title (in italics), volume number and page number information.

For example:

Smith, B. (2001). Bird species of the Amazon. Birding Monthly. 34 (1): 54-57

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