Documentation styles and formatting guidelines are used to ensure uniformity with written papers or reports. According to the sixth edition of the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association," APA Style is commonly used in social science disciplines such as anthropology, psychology, education, political science and economics. Following APA guidelines regarding format, sections, citations and references creates consistency among papers and publications.
Formatting helps create uniform mechanics and structure throughout the paper. Set 1-inch margins on all sides and double-space all text throughout the paper using 12-pt Times New Roman font. A page header should appear at the top of each page of the paper. It consists of the title of the paper on the left and page numbers flush right.
Create a title page that includes the title of the paper, the author’s name and the name of the school or institution, respectively. The title should appear in the upper half of the paper and text should be centered on the page. Use upper and lowercase letters to write the title and APA Style guidelines recommend that it should not be more than 12 words.
The abstract is a brief summation of the most important points of the paper and appears directly after the title page. It is not indented and is generally between 150 to 250 words. At the top of the page, center the word “Abstract.” You can include a list of keywords under the last sentence of the abstract, which should be centered and in italics. First write the word “Keywords” followed by a colon and then list each word separated with a comma.
The body of the paper begins on page three. Indent five to seven spaces before writing each paragraph. Start with a brief introduction of the topic and progress from general to more specific information. Use headings, like introduction, methods, results and discussion for scientific papers. Include in-text citations within the body of the paper. In-text citations indicate source material or authors used for supporting research or ideas. Write the citations at the end of the respective sentence in parenthesis with the last name of the author first, followed by a comma and year of publication.
Create a reference page on a separate page at the end of the paper. The reference list provides information for every source cited in the paper. It is also double-spaced and the word “References” is centered at the top of the page. Do not indent the beginning of the reference; all lines after the first line should be indented 0.5-inches from the left margin. The reference list should be alphabetized according to the author’s last name. Other basic elements include the date of the publication, title of book, place of publication and publishers name, respectively. Be aware that the format of the reference depends on the source material or whether it is a book, journal, newspaper or online resource.