What Is the Form of an APA Essay?

With scientific writing, you want to present your research in a straightforward way. APA, or American Psychological Association, style is used with scientific papers, including linguistics, education, business, environmental, social, behavioral, political and human sciences. This style outlines how to form or layout your essay. According to the 6th edition of the APA publication manual, your essay should feature a page header and include four sections: title page, abstract, main body and references.


When writing an APA essay, start with a running head or page header. This is a shortened version of your title that is no more than 50 characters, including spaces. It appears on the top of every page and also features the page number. In the running head, your title should be written in all capital letters. Place the title flush left with the page number flush right. Format your essay so that the margins are uniform, at least 1 inch on the top, bottom, left and right. Use 12-point font.

Title Page

On the title page, your running header should include the words ‘running head’ before your title. On subsequent pages, only include your title and the page number. The title page should contain your title, name and school name, and all text should be double-spaced. Write your title in title case; APA style recommends that it is no more than 12 words in length. Beneath the title, type your first name, middle name and last name. Do not use titles or degrees. Beneath your name, type your school or location where you are conducting your research.

Abstract Page

On a new page, place your running head in the header. On the first line, center the word “Abstract.” On the next line, write a concise, 150- to 250-word summary highlighting the key points of your research. Describe your research topic, research questions, methods, results, data analysis and conclusion. Your abstract should be one paragraph, double-spaced. Do not indent. On a new, indented paragraph, type “Keywords” in italics and list keywords pertaining to your essay.

Main Body

With APA style, the main body of your essay starts on page three. Continue writing your paper with 12-point font and a 1 inch margin. APA style recommends Times New Roman. Place the title of your paper centered on the first line below the running head. The main body of your essay should have an introduction and then sections such as method, results and discussion.

Reference Page

At the end of your essay, create a reference page to list your sources. On the first line, center the word “References.” Each source referenced in your paper must appear in your reference list. Alphabetize your sources by last name of the first author. If a reference is more than one line long, use a hanging indentation. This is when each subsequent line is indented by 1/2 inch from the left margin. All text should be double-spaced.