APA Method of Term Papers

American Psychological Association style is commonly used when writing science or social science term papers. The best scientific writing is straightforward and sparse. The aim is to highlight the ideas and data and keep all other distractions to a minimum. APA style helps you follow these expectations. In addition to format and structure, the 6th edition of the APA manual outlines how to cite in-text references.

General Format

The APA advises a simple format for your term paper. Your essay should feature double-spaced text in a 12-point font. The APA recommends Times New Roman, but you can use any font as long as it is highly legible. Your paper should feature a 1-inch margin on all sides and a page header on the top of each page.

The page header, also known as a running head, lies in the header on each page of your term paper. It features a shortened version of your title, just 50 characters long, including punctuation and spacing, typed in all capital letters. Align the title on the upper left hand side of your header and your page number on the upper right hand side. Page number should be listed using Arabic numerals.

Paper Sections

The APA method requires your term paper to have a title page, abstract page, main body and references page. On your title page, you list your term paper’s complete title, your name and your school’s name on individual lines centered in the upper half of the page. Your abstract page should feature one paragraph, 150 to 250 words long, describing your research topic, methods, results, data analysis and conclusion. The word "Abstract" is centered on the first line of the page above your abstract paragraph. Do not indent this paragraph. On the next page, begin writing the body of your term paper.

In-Text Citations

Throughout your term paper, you may use someone else’s work, data or graphics to support your argument. To avoid being accused of plagiarism, you must include in-text citations. In APA format, type the last name of the author and the year of publication within parentheses at the end of the referencing sentence before the punctuation.


At the end of your paper, a reference page lists the information necessary to locate your in-text citations. The word "References" is centered at the top of the page, and all the sources used in your paper are listed individually. Like the rest of your paper, this page should be double-spaced. For any reference that is more than a single line long, subsequent lines should be indented one-half inch, which is called a hanging indentation.

To format an APA reference for a single-author book, type the author’s last name, a comma, his first and middle initials and a period. Type the year the book was published within parentheses followed by a period. Next, type the title of the book in italics and sentence case followed by a period. Finally, type the city, a comma, the state, a colon, the publisher’s name and a period.