How to Write an APA Style Paper

Updated July 12, 2018

Writing a college paper in APA style only seems like a hassle. Being proficient with it will help you beyond any classroom. The format some university professors require is well-respected everywhere. Use this guide as a quick reference for the proper format for your paper and its sources.

Use the standard page setup: 8.5 by 11 inch paper, with 1 inch margins on all sides.

Compose a title page. The paper's title should appear on one line. The author's name should follow on the next. The third line should include the name of the school or association. All three should be centered vertically and horizontally.

On the top left of the title page type "Running Head:" followed by a shorter version of your title in all caps. This shorter version of your title will appear on this, and all subsequent pages, on the top right of the page. There, the shorter version of your title should be in all caps, followed by 5 spaces and the page number. On the title page, both appear simply to inform the reader.

On the second page, include an abstract, if applicable. Center the word "Abstract" on the page followed by a 75- to 100-word summary of your paper.

The body of your essay should use straightforward language. Properly cite your sources.

For quotes within the body of the paper, include the Author's last name, the year and page number(s) in parentheses directly after the quotation mark. This information should be separated by commas. The following sample sentence includes a proper citation: A recent study has found that " citations are becoming increasingly important to avoid charges of plagiarism." (Johnson, 2004, p.144)

If you mention an Author's name outside the parentheses, you don't need to include it again. Follow the format of the following sentence: Johnson (2004) also stated, "Schools are becomingly increasingly strict in response to the cut-and-paste generation of students." (p.166)

Cite your source when paraphrasing someone else's ideas. You don't need to include page numbers. Ex: Students unsure of what constitutes plagiarism find it safer to include sources thorough citations. (Johnson, 2004)

Write the reference list. You'll need to include detailed information on every source you cited in your paper. Center the word "References" on the top of the page and then begin your list.

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  • Double-space your entire report, including your reference list.
  • Use a standard 12-point serif font. Times New Roman, Arial, and Courier are the most-widely accepted.
  • For in-text citations without page numbers (such as websites), help the reader pinpoint the quote by listing the section name or paragraph number instead.
  • To reference books follow the following format: Last Name, First Name (Year of publication). Title of work. Location: Publisher.
  • To reference web sites: Last Name, First Name. (Date posted.) Title of Website. Retrieved month, date and year, from
  • To reference periodicals: Last Name, First Name (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number (issue number), pages.


  • Most professors in the social sciences require you to write reports in APA-Style and will mark you down for poor formatting if you do not comply.

Things Needed

  • Computer
  • Word Processor

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