APA Formatting Rules

Table of contents

APA Essay Formats

Foremost, APA refers to the American Psychological Association. APA style of formatting is typical in the writing of scientific topics. You will find multiple social and behavioral sciences subscribing to this standard of writing. Social sciences talk about social and cultural relationships of human beings.  Behavioral sciences, on the other side, talk about human and animal behavior. Social sciences are namely sociology, economics, political science, community development, among others. Behavioral sciences include subjects such as neuroscience, psychology, and cognitive science, among others. Using the APA style of writing, you need to adhere to some guidelines, namely:

  • Title page
  • Paper length
  • Margin sizes
  • Font
  • Running heads
  • APA format outlines

APA style of formatting is typical in the writing of scientific topics.

Title Page

The latest version of the APA style is the sixth edition. A title page in APA comprises a running head, a page number, and title of the page; it could be your name, and the institution. You already know how to do the title page and the page number, what follows is the title of the page in this case title of your essay. The title should be in Title Case and placed at the center horizontally and vertically. The title should not exceed twelve words. Below this is the name of the author, write it in full without title such as Dr. For two others use an "and" between them. This is followed by the full name of your institution. 

Paper Length

APA style, which is common in science fields, follows the rule of less is more. This means that with the allowed number of pages, make your points client and brief. Moreover, be clear, professional and straightforward in your explanations. 

Margin Sizes

The APA style requires you to keep your margins constant around your page. This is why the most used margin size is the one-inch around each of the four sides of your page. 

Font Choice

Starting with the title, your page needs to be in Times New Roman Font 12 point.  The title should not be underlined, italicized, or underlined. The most preferred spacing for the fonts is a single or double space depends on what your instructor demands. Keep it consistent across the paper. Do not be tempted to tamper with the font sizes even though they may appear small. 

Running Head

Running heads are common in the APA style of formatting.  Running head is a page header that appears at the top of each page of your work. You can set your PC to these setting when working on your essays to make it fast. A running header is made of the title of your paper and the page numbers. Justify the page numbers to the top right-hand side of your writing. Do not use a p or pg. to mean page in front of the page numbers. 

The title of the paper should have the words “Running head” just before it. Separate the two with a full colon. The title should be in full capital and should be less than 50 characters. This means that you need to use a shortened form of your title for your running head. 

Whereas you might get all this right, it is always good to have an outline in APA format to act as a checklist through your writing.  An APA outline format is quite easy. The outline needs to be:

  • Times New Roman font
  • The font should be a 12 pt. size
  • Double-spaced 
  • Margins of one inch across the page

What remains here is to keep in mind that the first word in each line is indented one and a half inch to your right. The reference list is ordered in alphabetical order and in with a hanging indentation for each reference.

How to Format an Essay Using APA Style

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Writing an APA Paper

Once you know how to do your title page, APA research paper outline, margins, fonts and running heads, you now need to sit and work on your essay.  Below is how to write an essay in APA format: 

  • Foremost, select a topic for your essay. This means you need to do enough research and have a topic with enough sources to sustain your research. Let the topic be narrow and specific for the sake of manageability and time constraints. 
  • Secondly, collect information on the subject. Start with books and articles and make the topic familiar to you. Follow this up by creating a list of potential sources from books, articles, essay and studies. 
  • As you write, track the sources you use to cite and have it pasted somewhere to be added to your reference section. All sources listed in this list must be used within your essay. 
  • Once the draft is ready, revise, review and repair final draft. Check for cohesiveness and validate sources. Moreover, watch out for grammar, typos and possible APA issues that could be made even when you know how to write an APA paper and rectify them. 

As you write, track the sources you use to cite and have it pasted somewhere to be added to your reference section.

APA Citation Format

Above everything else you do in your academic work, always remember to cite your sources. Different sources are cited differently using different formats such as APA style citing as below from citing within your text (in-text citation), citing two and more others, citing copy with no authors, citing an organization, and a secondary source.

In-text citation

  • At the beginning of a sentence, use the Surname followed by the year of publishing in brackets as:

Morris (2016) states…

  • If you are using the citation at the end of a sentence and paragraph, then the surname comes in a bracket followed by a comma and year of publication followed by a period as:

(Morris, 2016).

This is subject to change depending on whether it was a direct quote or a parenthetical used as below. 

  • A direct quote will be (Morris, 2016, p.28) 

For parenthetical, no page number is used. 

Two Authors

The surnames of the two authors separated with “and” or an ampersand depending on where placed. The APA citation format example should be:

Morris and George (2006)…. or (Morris& George, 2006) 

Three To Five Authors

Up to 5 authors, list all names as below:

Morris, George, and Joyce (2016) at the beginning and (Morris, George&Joyce, 2016). 

If it exceeds five, use the first name followed by “et al”, a comma and year of publication as;

Morris et al (2016) or (Morris et al, 2016). 

Citing and Organization

Use the full name of the organization in the first mention, but you could further shorten it as below.

First mention: (International Eating Organization, 2016) later you could say (Eating Organization, 2016)

Citing a Secondary Source

Start with the original author and date of publication followed by "as cited in" as below.

Evans (1999) as cited in Morris (2016)… or (Evans, 1999, as cited in Morris, 2016)

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