Apa Style Essay Formatting

The following are specific instructions for how to set up a document in APA format. For further and more detailed instructions, please see chapter 2: "Manuscript Structure and Content" in the APA Handbook.


All margins (top, bottom and sides) should be set at a minimum of one inch.  

The default setting for most Microsoft Word programs is one inch margins.  You can set the margins of your Word document by selecting "Page Layout" > "Margins" from the Ribbon Display Options.

Alignment / Line Spacing

All documents following APA guidelines are required to be aligned left and double-spaced throughout the entire document.  Be sure not to include additional spacing between paragraphs, headings, etc.

Font Type and Size

The preferred font type is Times New Roman.  Additionally, APA requires the font size to be 12 point.  

This is an example of 12-point Times New Roman.

Paragraph Indentation

All papers typed in APA format require paragraphs to be indented one-half inch.  This can easily be accomplished by striking TAB on the keyboard at the start of a new paragraph.  

To set the one-half inch tab default in Microsoft Word, under "Home" on the Ribbon Display Options, select "Paragraph" > "Increase Indent", and set to a one-half inch indentation.

Page Header

Beginning on the very first page (title page) and running continually throughout the APA document, a page header is utilized.  

The page header should appear one-half inch down from the top margin.  It includes the running head flush left and the page number flush right.  The running head consists of the words Running head (the R in Running is capatilized) followed by a colon and the title of the paper in all capital letters. There is a maximum of 50 characters (including spaces).  If the title encompasses more than 50 characters, then only major words should be used.

Ex.  Running head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER

This can be accomplished using the Header and Footer settings in Microsoft Word.  

Levels of Heading

When a document requires the use of headings, the following five levels should be utilized (See sec. 3.03 APA Handbook).

Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading
(Level One)

Flush Left, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading 
(Level Two)

      Indented, boldface, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period.
(Level Three)

      Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period.
(Level Four)

     Indented, italicized lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period.
(Level Five)

*NOTE: In levels three, four, and five, capitalize only the first letter of the first word.

*NOTE: In levels three, four, and five, the paragraph begins on the same line as the heading.

Title Page

The title page of the document should include the following:

         * Page header: Running head is flush left; page number is flush right.

         * Title of the paper, student's name, and name of college of university (typed in that order & centered on the title page).

The Running head will appear .5" from the top of the page.  See Page Header for further instructions about formatting a Running head.

Reference Page

A list of references should be given on a separate page(s) at the end of an APA document.  Every reference cited in the text should be listed on the reference page(s), and every reference listed on the reference page(s) should be cited in the text.  However, note that secondary sources are not necessary as an entry on the reference page-- only the original source that cites it.

General 6th edition APA guidelines for the reference page(s) include:

- Margins should be at least one inch all around (top, bottom, left and right) & double spacing should be used.

- The page heading should be centered and called References.  

- References should be listed in alphabetical order by authors (using surname of first author), associations (if the work is authored by an organization), and Anonymous (if work is signed Anonymous). If no author is provided, the title should be moved before the date and alphabetized according to the first word of the title (excluding a, an, the). 

- Underlining should not be used on the reference page.

- Personal conversations, emails, interviews, and letters should not be listed since the reader is unable to retrieve these types of sources (cite as personal communication in text, but do not list on the reference page).

- The first line of each reference entry should start at the left margin with the following lines being indented one half inch (hanging indent).

- Numerals are used to denote numbers ten and above.

- References beginning with numerals should have the numeral spelled out. (ex. "3 times the fun: The joy of triplets" should be listed as "Three times the fun: The joy of triplets")


The word Abstract should be centered, one inch from the top of the page.  The actual abstract, however, should be left justified.  This is the only paragraph of the paper that is not indented.  It should be concise, accurate, and reflect the content of the document.  The abstract should be only one paragraph in length.  No paraphrasing or direct quotations should be included.


Appendices are pages at the end of the paper (after the references) with additional information.  Appendices allow the author to include information that would be distracting to the reader if included in the body of the paper.  Tables or charts more than a half page in length are often placed in the appendices rather than the text of the paper.  The page header continues onto pages containing an appendix.  

* NOTE: If only one appendix is included, it should be labeled Appendix and centered, with uppercase and lowercase letters.  If more than one appendix is included, they should be labeled Appendix A, Appendix B, etc. 

APA Paper Formatting & Style Guidelines
Your teacher may want you to format your paper using APA guidelines. If you were told to create your citations in APA format, your paper should be formatted using the APA guidelines as well.

General guidelines:

  1. Use white 8 ½  x 11” paper.
  2. Make 1 inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides
  3. The first word in every paragraph should be indented one half inch.
  4. APA recommends using Times New Roman font, size 12.
  5. Double space the entire research paper
  6. Include a page header known as the “running head” at the top of every page. (To make this process easier, set your word processor to automatically add these components onto each page)
    1. To create the running head/page header, insert page numbers justified to the right-hand side of the paper (do not put p. or pg. in front of page numbers)
    2. Then type “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” justified to the left using all capital letters
    3. If your title is long, this running head title should be a shortened version of the title of your entire paper

Sample running head/page header

APA Paper Components

Your essay should include these four major sections:

  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Main Body
  4. References

Title Page

This page should contain four pieces: the title of the paper, running head, the author’s name, institutional affiliation, and an author’s note. Create the page header/running head as described above.

*Please note that only on the title page, your page header/running head should include the words “Running Head” before your title in all capitals. The rest of the pages should not include this in the page header. It should look like this on the title page:

  • The title of the paper should capture the main idea of the essay but should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose
  • It should be centered on the page and typed in 12-point Times New Roman font. Do not underline, bold, or italicize the title.


  1. Your title may take up one or two lines, but should not be more than 12 words in length.
  2. All text on the title page should be double-spaced in the same way as the rest of your essay
  3. Do not include any titles on the author’s name such as Dr. or Ms.
  4. The institutional affiliation is the location where the author conducted the research

Sample Title page:


On the following page, begin with the Running title.

  1. On the first line of the page, center the word “Abstract” (but do not include quotation marks).
  2. On the following line, write a summary of the key points of your research. Your abstract summary is a way to introduce readers to your research topic, the questions that will be answered, the process you took, and any findings or conclusions you drew.
  3. This summary should not be indented, but should be double-spaced and less than 250 words.
  4. If applicable, help researchers find your work in databases by listing keywords from your paper after your summary. To do this, indent and type Keywords: in italics.  Then list your keywords that stand out in your research.

Sample Abstract page:

The Body

On the following page, begin with the Body of the paper.

  1. Start with the Running title
  2. On the next line write the title (do not bold, underline, or italicize the title)
  3. Begin with the introduction. Indent.
  4. The introduction presents the problem and premise upon which the research was based.  It goes into more detail about this problem than the abstract.
  5. Begin a new section with the Method. Bold and center this subtitle The Method section shows how the study was run and conducted. Be sure to describe the methods through which data was collected.
  6. Begin a new section with the Results. Bold and center this subtitle. The Results section summarizes the data. Use graphs and graphs to display this data.
  7. Begin a new section with the Discussion. Bold and center this subtitle. This Discussion section is a chance to analyze and interpret your results.
    1. Draw conclusions and support how your data led to these conclusions.
    2. Discuss whether or not your hypothesis was confirmed or not supported by your results.
    3. Determine the limitations of the study and next steps to improve research for future studies.

** Throughout the body, in-text citations are used and include the author’s/authors’ name(s) and the publication year. In APA format page numbers are not used in in-text citations.

Ex: (Wilkonson, 2009).


For more information about how to cite properly please see EasyBib’s guides for APA citations based on the sources you are using.

Sample Body page:



On a new page, write your references.

  1. Begin with a running title
  2. Center and bold the title “References” (do not include quotation marks, underline, or italicize this title)
  3. Alphabetize and Double-space all entries
  4. Every article/source mentioned in the paper and used in your study should be referenced and have an entry.

Sample Reference Page:

0 Replies to “Apa Style Essay Formatting”

Lascia un Commento

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *