A College Student's Guide to APA Format

by Summer Schoening 2 years ago in how to

How To Write an APA Style Paper

A College Student's Guide to APA Format
Hitting a brick wall with your APA paper? I can help.


APA style format was created to standardize scientific writing. It is used for term and research papers, theoretical articles and case studies (APA Style, 2017). This style of writing has numerous crucial details in its appearance and organization to ensure clarity and credibility. For example, when citing a source, APA style requires an “…author-date citation system” (APA Style, 2017). This author-date system provides concise details on where the information was taken from. Another organizational detail this style of writing includes are the eight main sections of the article or study. These sections include title page, abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, references and appendices (APA Style, 2017). The benefits to writing in APA style are the better understanding and comprehension of the writers ideas, and improvement the writer's critical thinking.

APA Style Summary

APA style is a format of writing used in the medical field to clearly show information. APA style is commonly used for research reports, studies, empirical reviews, and methodological articles (APA Style, 2017). APA stands for American Psychological Association. This format was created by the American Psychological Association in 1929. Pratapa (2012) writes that this format “…[establishes] rules in structuring paper that enable ease of reading for both publishers and readers.” In order to make this format useful, the writer must follow the APA format guidelines.

The first step in writing an APA format is creating a clean and uniform appearance to your article or research paper. In the beginning, the margins shall be set to a standard one inch around the entire paper. It is important to set the font size to 12 pt. and the font to one that can be easily read, such as Times New Roman. Secondly, the spacing should be set to double, or two. This allows the report to be very easily read.

Another key component is the title page. To start, there will need to be a header. This will be in the “design” section of the word processor. Select the option “Different First Page.” Type the words ‘Running head:’ followed by the title of your paper in all capital letters. Use the tab key to move the space bar to the right-hand side of the header. Insert a page number under the position “Current Position.” Next, double click in the center of the page to exit the header. Space down approximately eight lines and type the title of your paper in title case. On the next line enter your name. On the third line type your institution (i.e. Wenatchee Valley College). Insert a page break to start the abstract (Murphy, 2017)

The abstract section of your report is a brief overview of the following paper or article. It should be between 150 and 250 words (Angeli, 2010). This space is used to give the reader a general idea about the content of the paper. Once the abstract is complete, insert a page break to begin the body of the paper. There are six remaining sections to complete. This includes the introduction, method, results, discussion, references and appendices. These six sections greatly benefit the organization the work (APA Style, 2017). Many of the sources listed in the ‘References’ page in this paper go into greater detail about how to write your paper in each of the said sections.

Another important piece of APA style is the language. On the Basics of APA Style Tutorial, the ninth slide states, “APA is committed to objectify in scientific reporting as well as the fair treatment of individuals and groups.” To ensure this when writing in APA style, be sensitive to labels and acknowledge participation appropriately. Also, when using data from a survey, refer to the participants as active participants. The Basics of APA Style Tutorial states, “…use language that portrays [the participants] as active participants, rather than passive recipients of the experiment.” Use of language is very important in the professionalism of the paper.

The reference page is extremely crucial to give credit to the sources you used information from. To start insert a page break after your text. With the text in the center type “REFERENCES.” Switch text orientation to left margin. Select your paragraph settings and click on ‘Special Indent’ then ‘Hanging.’ After, follow by citing your sources in alphabetical order by last name of the author. After the reference page should follow the appendices to complete.

By following these basic guidelines of the APA style, any research paper, case study or article will be made neat, organized and professional.


Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/

“Basics of APA Style Tutorial.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/basics/index.htm?_ga=1.185798511.750756364.1473440138

Murphy, Colin. “APA Format in Word- in 4 Minutes.” YouTube, YouTube, 14 Jan. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ODakMMqvls

Pratapa, Mounika. “Benefits of APA Format” Academia, July 2012, www.cademia.edu/24263971/Benefits_of_APA_format

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Summer Schoening
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