Caleb S.
Caleb S.

APA Format - A Complete Guide

11 min read

Published on: Mar 21, 2024

Last updated on: Mar 28, 2024

APA Format

Writing essays and research papers for school can be confusing, especially when it comes to following a specific format or citation style. The rules of APA (American Psychological Association) format may seem frustrating and stressful for many students.

Imagine spending hours on a paper only to lose points because of formatting issues. 

It's frustrating to work hard on your ideas, only to have them overlooked due to problems with how you present them. 

But, we have good news for you!

In this guide, we will explain APA format in simple and easy steps. No more stressing over margins, citations, or references. 

Let’s get started!

APA Format 7th Edition 

The American Psychological Association (APA) periodically updates its guidelines to ensure consistency and clarity in academic writing. 

APA format is widely used in disciplines like psychology, sociology, business, and education due to its emphasis on precision and clarity. It stands out as one of the most popular citation styles.

The 7th edition of the APA format, introduced in 2019, brings notable changes and improvements to citation and formatting standards. 

Page Formatting Guidelines in APA

Accurate page formatting is a fundamental aspect of adhering to APA guidelines, contributing to the overall professionalism and clarity of your academic papers. 

Below are essential page formatting guidelines to follow in APA style:

  • Margins:

Maintain uniform 1-inch margins on all sides of the paper. Consistent margins create a visually pleasing and well-organized appearance, contributing to the readability of your work.

  • Page Size and Font Type:

Utilize standard-sized (8.5" x 11") white paper. Choose a clear and readable font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in 12-point size. 

  • Line Spacing:

Use double-spacing throughout the entire paper, including the title page, abstract, main text, and references. This practice enhances readability and provides ample space for annotations and comments.

  • Alignment:

Align text to the left rather than justifying it. Left-aligned text improves readability and facilitates a straightforward reading experience for your audience.

  • Page Numbers:

Number all pages consecutively in the top right corner. This ensures that your document is organized and easy to follow for you and your readers, beginning with the title page as page 1.

  • Running Head:

Include a running head on the title page and all subsequent pages. The running head, a concise version of the paper's title (50 characters or fewer) in uppercase letters, adds a professional touch to your document.

  • Title Page:

The APA title page includes:

  • Title of the paper
  • Your name
  • Your institutional affiliation

Placing the title at the center of the page, followed by your name and affiliation, establishes a clear and professional title page.

Here is an example of title page for students in APA format:

APA Format Title Page for Students

Here is an example of title page for professional papers:

APA Format Title Page Professional

  • Abstract:

Start the abstract on a new page after the title page. Center and type the word "Abstract" at the top. Avoid indentation of the first line, allowing for a clean presentation of the summary of your paper.

APA Format Abstract

  • Headings:

Utilize different levels of headings to organize the paper effectively. The table below demonstrates how different levels of headings should be formatted in APA.

Heading Level 


Level 1  

Centered, Bold, Title Case Heading    

Level 2 

Flush Left, Bold, Title Case Heading

Level 3  

Flush Left, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading   

Level 4   

    Indented, Bold, Title Case Heading, Ending With a Period. 

Level 5 

    Indented, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading, Ending With a Period.

  • Indentation:

Implement a 0.5-inch first-line indent for the beginning of each paragraph in the main text. This enhances the structure of your paragraphs, contributing to the overall coherence of your writing.

Note: Always refer to the latest edition of the APA Publication Manual for the most up-to-date guidelines and additional insights.

How To Cite in APA Format

Citing sources in your academic work is a crucial skill to maintain integrity and give credit to the original authors.

In the American Psychological Association (APA) style, there are two main aspects of citing the sources:

  • In-Text Citations 
  • The References Page

Let's dive into each of them to ensure effective APA citations.

In-Text APA Citation Format 

In-text citations are brief references within the text of your paper that point readers to the full citation in the references page. 

These citations provide essential information such as the author's last name and the publication year. 

Here's how to create different in-text APA citation:

Narrative Citations (Author and Year) 

When the author's name is mentioned in the text, include the publication year in parentheses immediately afterward.

Example: According to Smith (2020), environmental awareness has increased.

Parenthetical Citations (Author and Year)

If the author's name is not part of the narrative, include both the author's last name and the publication year within parentheses at the end of the sentence.

Example: The impact of technology on society is significant (Johnson, 2018).

Direct Quotations (Author, Year, and Page Number) 

When quoting directly, include the author's last name, the publication year, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.

Example: "The study revealed significant findings" (Brown, 2019, p. 25).

Multiple Authors 

For sources with two authors, include both names connected by an ampersand (&). For sources with three or more authors, use "et al." after the first author's name.

Example (Two Authors): (Jones & Davis, 2019)

Example (Three or More Authors): (Miller et al., 2021)

Example (Three or More Authors): (Brown et al., 2021)

References Page - APA Format 

The references page is a comprehensive list of all the sources cited in your paper. This section provides detailed information to allow readers to locate the original sources. 

Here's how to create APA format references:

  • Page Title:

Center the word "References" at the top of the page. The title should be in bold and not underlined or italicized.

  • Formatting:

The entire page should be double-spaced. Use a hanging indent for each reference entry. To create a hanging indent, indent the second and subsequent lines of each entry by 0.5 inches.

  • Order of Entries:

Arrange entries alphabetically by the author's last name. If there is no author, use the title of the work. If there are multiple works by the same author, order them by publication date, with the earliest first.

  • Author(s):

List the author's last name followed by their initials. Use an ampersand (&) before the last author's name for multiple authors.

Author, A. A.

Author, B. B., & Author, C. C.

Author, D. D., Author, E. E., Author, F. F., & Author, G. G.

  • Publication Year:

Enclose the publication year in parentheses, followed by a period. 

For example: (2020).

  • Title of the Work:

Use the capital letter for the first word, the first word of any subtitles, and any proper nouns. Italicize the title and end with a period.

Title of the Book.

Title of the Article.

  • Source Information:

Provide details such as the source type (book, journal, website), the title of the source (for articles or chapters), and publication information (for books and articles).

Book: Publisher.

Journal Article: *Title of the Journal, volume number*(issue number), page range.

Here are APA format examples:

For Book:

Smith, J. A. (2020). *The Impact of Environmental Education.* Academic Press.

Breaking it down:

  • Author(s): Last name (Smith), Initials (J. A.)
  • Publication Year: 2020
  • Title of the Work: The Impact of Environmental Education
  • Source Information: Book (Academic Press)

For Journal:

Smith, J. A., Johnson, M. B., & Davis, R. C. (2018). The Impact of Technology on Society. *Journal of Technological Studies, 5*(2), 45-60.

Breaking it down:

  • Author(s): Last names (Smith, Johnson, Davis), Initials: (J. A., M. B., R. C.)
  • Publication Year: (2018).
  • Title of the Article: "The Impact of Technology on Society."
  • Title of the Journal: Journal of Technological Studies
  • Volume and Issue Numbers: 5(2),
  • Page Range: 45-60.

 APA Format Checklist

Ensuring your document aligns with the American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines is crucial for presenting your work professionally. 

Use this checklist to verify that your paper follows the key elements of APA format:

  • Title Page:
  •  Title in title case.
  •  Author's name, institutional affiliation, course details, instructor's name, and due date included.
  • Abstract:
  •  Between 150 to 250 words.
  •  Keywords included.
  • Main Body:
  •  Double-spaced, 12-point font.
  •  One-inch margins.
  •  Running head with title.
  •  Page numbers, top right corner.
  • Headings:
  •  Consistent formatting.
  •  Level 1 bold and centered.
  • In-Text Citations:
  •  Author's last name, publication year.
  •  Page number for direct quotes.
  •  Correct format for one or multiple authors.
  • References:
  •  Titled "References" at the top.
  •  Alphabetical order.
  •  Hanging indent.
  •  Author's name, last name first.
  •  Title italicized.

APA and MLA are widely used citation styles. Refer to the APA vs MLA guide for a detailed understanding of the differences between these two most common citation styles.

All in all, by following the outlined guidelines, you can ensure clarity, consistency, and professionalism in your academic writing. Whether crafting APA in-text citations, or compiling APA reference pages, this format offers a standardized approach to presenting information.

But if you still find the process of citing sources and referencing overwhelming, only the top AI essay writer is your ultimate solution.

Try out our citation machine by choosing any citation style you want. Fill out the important details and generate perfect citations effortlessly! Give a try today!

Caleb S.


Caleb S. (Mass Literature and Linguistics)

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

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