How to write a paper in APA format?

Essays writing for universities, colleges, and even research papers for publications and presentations all require a specific style of formatting. This formatting style should be rigorously followed and applied to the research papers and assignments to fulfill the requirements of publications as well as assignment submissions. There are many different types of formatting styles, including the APA, MNA, Harvard, and Chicago, for example. Each formatting style has specific design and style structures and a particular set of guidelines. All completed papers should be adequately ad appropriately formatted as per the requirement of the article.

The APA formatting style is most preferred and required by students of behavioral sciences – including psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive sciences. Similarly, students of social sciences- such as sociology, linguistic, anthropology, archaeology, economics, and political science - also use the APA formatting style most commonly – as is needed by the requirements of the assignment. The nature of the assignment may vary from case studies to research papers, to literature reviews and essays. Regardless of the type of assignment needed, the formatting style preferred is APA. Read our blog section in detail for further information. 

It is therefore important that students are knowledgeable of, and understand the basic requirements of the APA guidelines for formatting – especially for college and university level assignments. This article is drafted to help students learn about the APA formatting style, as well as give them useful tips with examples on how to ensure proper formatting and structuring of papers and assignments based on APA formatting styles. Essay48 precisely meets the requirements of students in terms of format and style in every type of academic writing task. 

The APA citation style – a basic understanding

Before detailing the specifics of the APA formatting style, and preparing a comprehensive guideline with tips to help you understand the formatting needs of the APA citation style, it is important to know what the APA citation style is. The APA stands for the American psychological association. The APA style of citation and formatting was developed by the American psychology association to provide guidelines and standards for formatting papers and researches related to specific fields on interest. The guidelines and standards pertaining to rules and regulations, as well as style instructions and design formalities related to the organization of papers with respect to the general formatting, as well as in text citations and bibliographical details and references.

Citation based on specific styles of sources is important. All research papers and essays have specific referencing needs and must cite the resources used for different ideas and arguments to give credits accordingly. This list of citations and references through the sources used also adds credibility to the research papers and essays, and help authors avoid issues of plagiarism as well as help readers track different researches cited in work. Following specific guidelines designed – especially the APA format – makes it easier for authors to provide citations and references in an easy to understand and follow manner – which will also help readers associate more with the works.

The APA citation style
Write a paper in APA format

Writing papers in the APA format

All formatting styles have a specific set of guidelines and rules to follow with respect to formatting details. These include the structure of the paper, organization of the content, spacing the margins and details for headings and subheadings. Besides, formatting styles also details the referencing and in text citation styles used. For the APA style. The basic guidelines and standards include the following:

  • The essay or the research paper should be drafted on a standard size paper of .5x11
  • The margin spacing on all sides should be 1 inch.
  • All APA based papers and essays must be double spaced.
  • The recommended font for this style is times new roman. Other readable fonts may also be used.
  • The font size to be used for papers is 12 pt.
  • The APA formatting style requires a running head at the top of every page in the research paper or essay.
  • The running head is a condensed version of the title of the paper or the essay, and should not be more than 50 characters – including punctuation and spacing. It is typed in capital letters and is flushed towards the left end of the paper top.
  • The page numbers are flushed towards the right side of the paper.
  • The organization of the content does not have specific guidelines and details. However, it is important for the author to ensure a logical organization that allows an easy understanding of the topic and smooth flow of ideas and information.
  • The paper should be maintained with a to the point strategy. This means that writers should avoid the fluff and unnecessary details. Instead, they should focus on ensuring that the paper is drafted and presented in a  clear and concise manner.
  • Research steps are explained using the first person. For example, 'for the research of this paper, I conducted an informal interview.'
  • Experimental reports under the APA format require an active voice, rather than a passive voice. For example, the authors will make use of pronouns ‘I,’ ‘my,’ and ‘me.’
  • All research papers drafted in the APA style should avoid bias in the research work - and this can be done by being actively conscious of the word choice being used.
  • Like for all research papers, the APA formatting style also requires authors to avoid poetic language and expressions. Instead, it maintains focus on using plain language to keep the research simple and easy to understand. This will help authors maintain the seriousness of the topic, and the importance of the study, instead of undermining the research intricacy.

Understanding the important paper sections and working around the division of the paper

Though each paper and assignment may vary in detail, all papers and assignments have at least four basic parts. These are

  1. APA based essay title page
  2. Abstract
  3. Main body
  4. Reference list

1. APA based title page

The APA based title page will contain the title of the paper, the author's details – including the author's name and institutional information of the association. This information is placed in the center of the page and like the rest of the paper is double spaced.

The title of the research paper or essay should be adequately drafted, and should also be concise. It should not be more than twelve words. The title should be typed and placed in the upper half section of the title page. The running head should also be developed and placed on the top of all pages –flushed towards the left. However, on the title page, the running head is also defined with the characteristic of the mention of ‘running head’ in capital letters.

APA based title page
Write a paper in APA format

2. Abstract

The abstract is placed on a separate page, usually following the title page. The purpose of the abstract is to inform readers of the key ideas discussed in the paper and deliver the ley information based on the arguments developed through the research paper. This page also has a running head, and the title of the abstract is placed in the center at the top of the page. The abstract is usually not more than 250 words. The abstract will also include a briefing of key details, such as the research aims and findings. Relevant or keywords are also l=usually listed to support the abstract. The words 'keywords' are written, followed by most important words that define research, and help in the classification of the paper. The abstract and keywords are usually italicized.

3. Main body

For the main body, the following format is usually followed under the APA based research style.

  • Include a running head on all pages of the main body
  • The title of the research paper or essay is written on the first line, and placed on the center of the page. This is usually bold.
  • All paragraphs in the main body of the paper are indented with respect to the first line.
  • All subtitles in the paper are written in bold, and placed in the center of the page.
  • The first part of the main body so the introduction – which introduces the key problems to be addressed in the paper, as well as introduce the topic, and focal area of research
  • this is usually followed by a literature review to detail the problem[s] identified, as well as support the author’s chosen methodology for exploring the problem, and suggesting solutions. The literature review is supported extensively with external sources
  • The methodology section details the methods that the author has employed for conducting the research, and for collecting data and information pertaining to the problem and research context. This section also details the modes and methods that the author will use for analyzing the data collected.
  • This is followed by the results section – where the findings of the research are presented and analyzed. This presentation is usually supported with graphical representations, and the use of charts to make understanding key takeaways from the research easier.
  • In the discussions’ section, the author analyzes the data, information, and results in detail, and connects it with the original research problem; the author also draws from the literature review to present his own findings and opinions and also interprets his data results. This section also allows the author to draft conclusions and identify areas for future research and development with respect to the topic.
  • It is absolutely necessary for authors to make sure that all headings and subheadings are adequately sued and followed in the APA based research paper.
  • The APA based research papers and essays have five levels of headings. These levels differ based on the font size. The purpose of different levels of headings used throughout the paper helps authors, especially students, avoid complex numbering system in the paper – simplifying the formatting for them.


the reference list included bibliographical information for all in-text citations, and sources used throughout the paper by the author for supporting arguments, and ideas as wells for discussion and interpretation of the results

  • In-text citations and external sources would also be sued for argument development.
  • All references are arranged alphabetically in the reference section and are in order of the last name of the primary author of every resource used.
  • References are also double spaced and are aligned towards the left side of the paper.
  • The overall reference section is indented towards the left and uses the hanging indentation.
  • In text citation will include the last name of the authors and year of publication. In the case of three or more authors, the in text citation following the first one will use ‘et al’ for all other authors following the primary author of the resource.
  • The use of direct sources in an essay or research paper requires in text citation that includes the page number where the quotation is originally placed in the source. This use of page number is often preceded with a ‘p.’
  • Quotations that are longer than 40 words must be placed on a new line that is indented towards the left.

Referencing the sources in APA style

There are different sources of information that may be used in the development of a research paper or essay. Each source is referenced based on its unique type and characteristic. Examples of different sources and referencing details are presented below for your facilitation.

Sources in APA style
Write a paper in APA format

Journal article

Haugh, H. (2005). A research agenda for social entrepreneurship. Social enterprise journal, 1(1), 1-12.

Nambisan, S. (2017). Digital entrepreneurship: Toward a digital technology perspective of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 41(6), 1029-1055.


Schaper, M., Volery, T., Weber, P., & Lewis, K. (2010). Entrepreneurship and small business. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Szirmai, A., Naudé, W., & Goedhuys, M. (Eds.). (2011). Entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development. New York: Oxford University Press.

Journal article
Write a paper in APA format


If you still find understanding the APA style to be too difficult, consult our blog section for more informative articles, we have also prepared a template for your facilitation. Moreover, we also have a team of trained professional writers who provide 100% for your assignment help and details. And who also guarantees full confidentiality in the drafting of your assignments.

You can reach out to us to find more details!

Hi there !

We are here to help. Chat with us on WhatsApp for any queries.

Customer Representative