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A Comprehensive Guide on APA Format Paper

APA Format Paper

The APA format covers guidelines for formatting and referencing, developed by the American Psychological Association. The guidelines it contains are recorded in the “Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association“. An APA format paper is generally written as academic documents such as books, scholarly articles, and journals. The official APA format guidebook was primarily developed to aid research paper writers and authors with formatting their documents for publication in the most professional manner.

The 7th edition of the APA Manual is the latest publication that provides authors with a set of guiding principles for accrediting the works of others. The manual also provides fairly extensive guiding principles for writing, arranging, structuring, and formatting a document, as well as grammar and practical writing tips. An APA format paper is mostly written by researchers, professionals, and students in the behavioral and social sciences, which includes areas like psychology, education, and business. PenMyPaper suggests going through the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (7th ed.) for apprehending all the nitty-gritty of the APA referencing style.

APA Format Paper Guidelines

Mentioned below are the basic guidelines that are to be followed for preparing an APA format paper:

  • Paper size: Your APA format essay should be typed in a standard, white, 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
  • Margins: The margins should be set to 1-inch on all sides.
  • Font: APA format acknowledges a variety of legible fonts. Sans serif fonts such as 11-point Arial and 11-point Arial and serif fonts such as 12-point Times New Roman and 11-point Georgia can be used.
  • Line spacing: APA format paper should be typed and double-spaced. No extra space is to be added before or after each paragraph.
  • Page header: The page header is to be included within the top margin of every page of each paper. For a student paper, the page header consists of the page number only, which appears in the top right corner of the pages. For a professional paper, the paper title and the page number are to be included. The “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” should be typed in the header and left-aligned, and all letters should be capitalized. The shortened version of your paper’s title is the running head and it shouldn’t be more than 50 characters including punctuation and spacing.

The connoisseurs at PenMyPaper can help explain these guidelines of the APA format paper in more detail.

Major Sections of an APA Format Paper

Your APA format paper should consist of the four main sections: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Title Page

The title page is the cover page of an APA format paper. It entails the following components:

  • The title of the paper should be center-aligned and bold.
  • The author’s name in which the first name, middle initial(s), and last name should be mentioned excluding titles (Dr.) and degrees (Ph.D.).
  • The institutional affiliation indicates the location the research has been conducted.
  • Author’s note for professional papers only
  • Course number and name, name of the instructor, and assignment due date for student papers.


The abstract should begin on a new page and should include the page header. It must be centered and bold and shouldn’t be italicized or underlined. Compose the abstract with not more than 250 words and summarize the key points of your research paper. The abstract contains the research topic, research question, research objectives, methods, analysis, results, and conclusions. It has to be written in a single paragraph and it should not be indented.

A list of keywords can be included that will start in a new paragraph and should be indented. The word Keywords should be in italics followed by a colon and thereafter list the keywords from your paper.


The reference list should commence on a new page. It contains all the sources used in the paper and can be located and retrieved by readers easily. Each source that is cited in a paper must be mentioned in the reference list and similarly, each entry in the references should be cited in the text.

The reference list is situated at the end of the document and is labeled “References” in bold, center-aligned at the top of the page. It shouldn’t be underlined or quoted and all the texts are to be double-spaced like the rest of the paper.

APA Referencing Basics

APA format citations follow two methods: In-Text Citations and Annotated bibliography.

  • In-Text Citations – Basic Guidelines

Citations direct the readers to your sources. Citations can be done using quotations or paraphrasing. When a source is cited in the text, it gives credit to the author and in that way, you can prevent the consequences of plagiarism.

When citing sources in APA format, the author-date method is followed. The author’s surname followed by the year of publication is mentioned in the text, for example, (Jonas, 1948). In case you use a direct quote, you are required to cite the page number as well. If there is one page that is being referred “p.” is used and for several pages, “pp.” is used and the range of pages is denoted using a dash. There are two ways for in-text citations in APA 7 Citation.

  • Narrative citations:

In a narrative citation, authors are referred to by their names in a sentence. For citing, the surname of the author is written outside parentheses and the year and page number are written within brackets. For citing a work by two authors, the word “and” is used between the authors’ names within the text and for three or more authors, “et al.” is used after the last name of the first author.

Examples: Smith (1998, pp. 201-209)

McCain and Jones (2015, p. 27)

McCain et al. (2015)

  • Parenthetical citations:

For parenthetical citations, only the content of their work is cited and not the name of the author(s). For citing, the author’s surname followed by the year of publication and page number is mentioned within the parentheses. For citing a work by two authors, an ampersand (&) is used between the names of two authors and for three or more authors, “et al” is used in the parentheses.

Examples: (Colbert, 2019, p. 29)

(McCain & Jones, 2015, p. 27)

(Paul et al., 1980)

Formatting a Reference List – Basic Guidelines

According to the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual, formatting a reference list should adhere to the following rules for most sources:

  • The lines after the first line of every entry in the reference list are to be indented one and a half-inch from the left margin, which is known as the hanging indentation.
  • The last name(s) of the author(s) should be provided first. The first and middle names should be inserted as initials.
  • Provide the last name and first or middle initials for each author of a specific work up to and including 20 writers. Every author’s initials are to be separated from the following author by using a comma. A comma followed by an ampersand (&) is to be inserted before the name of the final author. In the case of more than 20 authors, an ellipsis should be inserted after the 19th author, thereafter the final author’s name should be inserted.
  • If there are several articles written by the same author or authors mentioned in the same sequence, the entries are to be listed in chronological order starting from the oldest to the most recent.
  • For referring to the book titles, articles, reports, journals, webpages, chapters, or other sources, the first letter of the first word should be capitalized.
  • The titles of longer works have to be italicized.
  • All the entries should be double-spacedPenMyPaper suggests going through some APA format examples to understand the ways of citing sources and formatting a paper.

APA Referencing Format

For Books

The general format for a book citation: Last name, Initials. (Year). Book title (Editor/translator initials, Last name, Ed. or Trans.) (Edition). Publisher.

  • Single Author:

Reference entry

Fleming, Q. (2003). Project procurement management: contracting, subcontracting, teaming. FMC Press.

In-text citation

Parenthetical: (Fleming, 2003)

Narrative: Fleming (2003)

  • Two Authors:

Reference entry

Moran, A., & Toner, J. (2017). A critical introduction to sport psychology (3rd ed.). Routledge.

In-text citation

Parenthetical: (Moran & Toner, 2017)

Narrative: Moran and Toner (2017)

  • Three to 20 Authors:

Reference entry

Bailey, L., Gallagher, M., & Robertson, J. (2015). Perceived exertion laboratory manual: From standard practice to contemporary application. Springer.

In-text citation

Parenthetical: (Bailey et al., 2015, p. 135)

Narrative: Bailey et al. (2015, p. 135)

Notes: For 20 authors list all the authors up to 19 in the references and use a comma and an ampersand (&) before the final author.

In case there are more than 20 authors, mention the first 19 authors’ names, then insert three ellipses followed by the final author in the references.

  • For Journal articles

The general format for journal articles in APA: Last name, Initials. (Year of Publication). Article Title. Journal Title, Volume (Issue number), Page range of the article. DOI or URL (if available)

Reference entry

Luo, L., & Craik, F. (2008). Aging and memory: a cognitive approach. Canadian journal of psychiatry, 53(6), 46-53

In-text citation

Parenthetical: (Luo & Craik, 2008, pp. 46-53)

Narrative: Luo and Craik (2008, pp. 46-53)

  • For Newspapers

The basic APA format for referencing newspaper articles: Last name, Initials. (Year and Date of Publication). Article title. Newspaper title, Page number. DOI or URL

Reference entry

Dickinson, J. (2019, October 7). Post offices hold a special place in the shaping of modern Florida. Orlando Sentinel, 15

In-text citation

Parenthetical: (Dickinson, 2019, p. 15)

Narrative: Dickinson (2019. p. 15)

  • For Webpages on a Website

The general format for referencing a webpage on a website according to APA: Last name, Initials. (Year, Month Date). Title. Website name. URL

Reference entry

Price, D. (2018, March 23). Laziness does not exist. Medium.

In-text citation:

Parenthetical: (Price, 2018)

Narrative:  Cole Price (2018) reflects on his own experiences….

In case there is no author, use the title of the webpage.

Title of page. (Year, Month Date). Website name. Retrieved Month Date, Year, from URL

Reference entry: Tuscan white bean pasta. (2018, February 25). BudgetBites. Retrieved March 18, 2020, from

Get Expert Assistance

Hopefully, this extensive guide has helped you in understanding the guidelines and methods for writing and arranging a paper according to the APA citation format. In case you want to know more about different referencing styles or are having a hard time getting your papers done correctly, feel free to get in touch with us. We at PenMyPaper, have a brilliant team of adept and professional academic writers who will help you with any kind of academic assignment. Simply ask us to write my paper and we shall gladly do it for you.

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