How to Write a Research Paper in APA format

Becoming academically successful is not easy. In order to accurately and academically write about research results, you have to get acquainted with the rules of formatting a research paper.

There are many different sets of rules which are applied depending on the specifics of the field of study. One of these sets is the APA writing standard.

What is APA?

The APA (American Psychological Association) is one of the most influential associations for professional psychologists in the world. It includes a number of specialists from the United States and Canada, as well as associate members from other countries, totaling about 150,000 members.

The main goal of APA is to promote psychology as a science and profession while improving the well-being, mental health, and education of people.

The organization developed the widespread format for academic work in the social sciences.

APA formatting is predominantly used in research publications in the following fields:

  • Psychology
  • Business
  • Criminology
  • Economics
  • Pedagogy (including applied linguistics)
  • Sociology and other related science brunches.

The reference guide Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association contains recommendations on how to format papers, how to cite sources, and how research should be structured.

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APA Research Paper Formatting Guidelines

The following are the general formatting guidelines for APA, which are not drastically different from many other academic formats.

  1. Text should be typed on standard 8.5" x 11" white paper.
  2. The APA style requires using an easy-to-read font, recommending size 12, Times New Roman font.
  3. Double spacing is required on both the title page and throughout the paper.
  4. Margins should be 1" on all sides of the page.
  5. Paragraph indentation should be set to one-half inch from the left side of the page.
  6. A special page header consisting of the page number and the running head, typed in all capital letters. The title on the title page should also be in all capital letters.

The running head introduction visually brings both the writer and reader back to the main idea of the research.

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The American Psychological Association contains members who work or study in the field of psychology. This organization has outlined guidelines such as a research paper in APA format and APA citation formatting.

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Format of an APA Research Paper

Title Page

Every research paper, outside of MLA, starts with a title page. The APA pays lots of attention to the front page’s layout. These formatting requirements are simply yet must be strictly followed in an APA paper.

  1. The title of the paper should be placed in the center of the title page.
  2. The title may contain as many words and characters as the writer needs but the APA format recommends less than 12 words and to avoid using unnecessary information and abbreviations.
  3. Everything on the title page should be double-spaced. The name of the author should be written beneath the title. The author’s name should not include any formalities such as Ph.D. or Mr., only including the first and last names.
  4. The name of the institution or college or university from which you are writing the paper should then be included.
  5. The running head contains a capitalized short name of the title. Then the header of the title page has the words ‘Running Head’ followed by a colon and the shortened title.

These straightforward rules demand careful adherence to the format of your APA paper.

Abstract

In an APA paper, you must include an abstract. The purpose of the abstract is to serve as the following:

  • An introduction to the author’s ideas
  • A brief summary of the research the author conducted
  • Define any abbreviations and terminology.

Technical Requirements: The abstract page begins with the word "Abstract" centered to the page and in 12-pt Times New Roman font. It is then followed by a non-indented text fewer than 250 words that summarizes the research paper’s main points with any key terms italicized.

The abstract page helps readers to find your paper as well as to give your readers a brief overview of your research. 

Body

APA style states that text in your body paragraphs can contain as many paragraphs or sections as you need to answer topic-related questions.

The beginning of the body paragraph starts with the name of the survey, which should not be underlined, or italicized. To clearly identify each section, APA style requires writers to center the heading of each paragraph in a bold font.

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Text Citation and References

In APA style, in-text citations are frequently utilized. Such citations are placed in parentheses with the author`s name and year of their work’s publication. This information must match what you provide in the reference list at the end of the paper.

The reference list or bibliography should be formatted in the following manner:

  1. References should be indented one-half inch from the left margin.
  2. References should be listed alphabetically by author’s last name up to seven authors by listing their last name and their first name’s initial.
  3. The year of the publication should immediately follow the authors' names in parentheses.
  4. Next, the name of the reference is cited.
  5. Then the volume or page numbers are put in parentheses.
  6. Lastly, indicate where the source’s origin (i.e. a web-page)

To see an example check an APA citation generator by PapersOwl. 

APA style provides numerous rules for accurately editing research papers. This fact does not mean unnecessary efforts but rather that effective and correct formatting of written research helps both the author to effectively pass along information to the reader. The organization’s manual stresses the importance of academic honesty by requiring writers to cite other works properly.

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