How to Write an APA Style Biography Paper

The American Psychological Association, or APA, style is a format for writing papers generally within the field of social sciences. The style dictates exact mechanics of page layout and content. Many colleges require the use of APA format for papers submitted as assignments. Biographies, especially about people within the field of social science, are most often written to these specifications. It isn't difficult to write in this format once you know the basics. Here's what it takes to write a biography in APA style.

Format your paper according to APA requirements. Use 1-inch margins on all sides and a 12-point Times New Roman font. Sentences should be double spaced. The upper right hand corner should have a page header with a short version of the paper's title and the page number.

Divide your paper into four sections: title page, abstract, body, and references. Understanding these four sections and focusing on one at a time will allow you to better understand the structure of an APA-formatted biography.

Include a running head on the first line of the title page, left aligned. Write "Running Head" and follow it with a colon and a shortened version of your title. Drop down three double spaces and type the title of your paper in sentence case. Drop another double space and include your byline. If this paper is for a college class, drop down another double space and include the name and instructor of the class.

Start a new page and write the abstract for your APA biography. Center the word "Abstract," then drop down a double space and write a 120- to 150-word summary about what your paper will include. Do not indent the abstract.

Write the main body of the paper. This is the heart of the paper. APA style calls for specific formatting for source material references depending on the type of source. Keep an APA source reference guide handy as you write the body of your paper (see Resources). Introduce the person your biography is about, define his accomplishments, and conclude with his current status and activities. Write in third person, using active rather than passive voice.

Include a full, detailed list of all references used in your paper. APA format calls for specifics. You should have a reference guide available when you format the reference section of your paper (see Resources). The reference listings should include all publications you used to write your paper as well as the names of the authors whose work you used and the year of publication.

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