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 or you can pay for custom research paper according to all APA formatting rules.

APA style is used worldwide for formatting and referencing sources used in research papers. APA formatting guidelines allow authors to efficiently organize their arguments and properly credit secondary literature to avoid plagiarism. Furthermore, the APA style improves comprehension for readers as the consistency it provides allows readers to focus on the contents of the paper instead of its presentation. The APA style guidelines are updated according to feedback from researchers and educational stakeholders. The APA style guidelines provide authors with a credible and well-recognized format, which makes their paper well-organized and easy to read.

What is APA?

A set of guidelines when writing a piece of literature not only makes the organization of arguments easier but also enables better readability. The APA style has been created by the American Psychological Association as a language to be used in research papers and higher education. An APA research paper is formatted according to an expected standard and sources  are cited correctly to avoid plagiarism.

The APA research paper format allows writers to be consistent with their writing, which increases efficiency concerning research and organizing arguments.

Using APA in-text citations and references in the bibliography can prevent writers from accidental plagiarism. Besides enabling the organization of ideas and preventing plagiarism, using APA provides writers with credibility as the use of APA style proves that one can 'speak' the language of academia. Following APA style provides writers with a predictable format to organize their ideas and provides readers with easier comprehension. Knowing how to use APA format is also key. In addition, you can always get a research paper written for you.

The latest APA style in use is the 7th Edition, which was published in 2020. Several changes were made in this edition to make the format easier to use for educational stakeholders. Some of the pertinent changes include alterations to formatting and citations. The 7th edition has recommended different cover pages for professionals and students. Student papers also do not require a running head in the current edition, and professional papers' running head does not require the label "running head". Furthermore, level three, four, and five headings have been modified. The recent edition is also more lenient concerning font choices, and a variety of fonts are acceptable given one is used consistently throughout the paper. Several changes have been made to the reference list and the APA format citation. Writers must follow the guidelines of the latest APA style unless specified otherwise. If students encounter difficulties with this type of writing, they usually use help of research paper services .

General Requirements for APA Format

  • Paper Length

Given that the APA style is usually used in the literature about the scientific field, the authors must remain concise and precise. Professional language is key, and the main ideas should be written clearly. Authors should avoid irrelevant details. Overall, the length of APA style papers should be kept to the minimum while encompassing the author's ideas.

  • Margin Requirements

APA formatting rules call for papers to be typed on a standard-sized paper of 8.5 inches times 11 inches. The text in the paper should be double-spaced with a one-inch margin on all four sides. The font used should be easily readable; however, 12-point Times New Roman is generally used . Students are to follow these standard guidelines unless specifically informed otherwise by their professors. 

  • Title Page Components

The 7th edition calls for a different APA title page research paper format for students and professionals. A student paper will include the title of the paper, the author's name, institutional affiliation, course name, and number, the name of the instructor, and the due date of the assignment. The title should be centered and in boldface and should be one or two lines long. The title can contain uppercase and lowercase letters. The title should be concise and writers should avoid using irrelevant words or abbreviations. Similar to the rest of the paper, the title page should also be double-spaced. In a professional paper, the title should be followed by the institutional affiliation with the location where the research was conducted. These papers also include an author's note, which is divided into several paragraphs. The first paragraph consists of the authors' name and ORCID ID (omitted if the author(s) do not have an ORCID ID). Any deaths of authors or changes in affiliation are written in the second paragraph, and the third paragraph includes any acknowledgments and disclosures. Student papers do not require an author's note. 

  • Running Heads

Running heads are not required for student papers, however, professional papers include a running head. The “running head” label has been omitted in the APA’s 7th edition  A running head is flush left of the paper and should not exceed more than 50 characters including spacing and punctuation. Furthermore, the running head is in all uppercase . In both types of papers, the header has the page number flush right.

  • Table of contents

The table of contents is an important part of an academic paper as it provides readers with a roadmap for the paper. Adding a table of content is not compulsory in APA, but is recommended for lengthier papers. The table of contents should be in the same font and double-spaced such as the paper.

The table of contents should begin with a centered heading of "Table of Contents" in boldface at the top of the page.

All main headings are flushed to the left, and subheadings are indented by five spaces. Lower level headings can also be included, but they should be additionally indented. All headings should be in the title case, and dotted lines should be included between the headings and their page number for easier readability. The table of contents will include all pages, including preliminary and supplementary, and should not exceed two pages. Table of contents makes the paper easier to navigate through, which in turn allows the readers to focus on the content of the paper, one of the key purposes of using APA style.

  • Outline

A solid outline forms the foundation of a well-organized paper. An APA paper is broadly divided into three parts, namely, the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. The introduction provides background for the paper and contains the thesis statement. In the body, the writer presents the main points that support the thesis statement. The conclusion provides the overall summary of the points made in the body and justifies how the paper supports the thesis statement. The references list follows the conclusion. For research papers, an abstract should also be added before the introduction. All research papers may not follow this exact outline, but this outline serves as a general guideline. 

  • Abstract

The abstract is written after the title page. Although generally overlooked, the abstract serves as a pivotal part of any well-written research paper. The purpose of an abstract is to provide the readers with a summary of the research paper. Being the first thing the reader sets their sight upon in the research paper, the abstract should inform the reader what the research paper is about and what they can expect. An abstract is a single paragraph in block format. Moreover, the abstract is written on its page titled "abstract", which is centered. Given that the abstract is required to be 150 to 250 words, each sentence should be packed with information for maximum impact. The information in the abstract should be structured according to the paper. writers should ensure that the abstract is succinct yet well-organized and packed with information. 

Need help with writing a research paper?

  • Body 

An APA-style paper broadly consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. This part of the paper contains indented paragraphs.

The introduction is written after the title of the paper, which is placed on the top of the page, centered. The introduction paragraph is not labeled. According to Hamilton (n.d.), the introduction of an APA-style paper is one of the most difficult components to write.

The purpose of the introduction is to provide writers with a critical overview and summary of empirical knowledge to define why the researchers chose to conduct the study.

The first line of the introduction is crucial as it can either cause the readers to continue reading the paper or otherwise. Therefore, the first line should "hook" the readers by being something interesting and thought-provoking. The introduction begins by broadly exploring the topic area and further narrows towards the hypothesis or thesis statement. References may be used in the introduction of research papers. Nevertheless, the use of direct quotes should be avoided. The introduction 'introduces' the paper to the readers and contains the hypothesis or thesis statement, making it critical for the paper.

The body contains the main points of the paper. In the case of a scientific research paper, the body will begin with the Method. All main headings of the body should be centered and in boldface. Albeit the Method section is quite straightforward, it must be precise and comprehensive to ensure that any other researcher can replicate the method used in the research paper exactly. The Method section can further be divided into Participants, Materials (and/or Apparatus), and Procedure sections. These sections will be labeled in boldface and flush left. Following the Method section will be the Results section. This section contains the methods used for the analysis of the data and the results so obtained. Researchers may also use tables and graphs to visually present the data to improve comprehension. The next section is the Discussion in which the researcher(s) interpret the data and compare them with existing literature concerning the topic. The Discussion section can be deemed as the opposite of the introduction concerning how it is organized. That is, it begins with specific information and further broadens. Limitations and scope for further research may be included in this section. The concluding paragraph of the study reiterates the need for the study and how it has added to existing literature. The above-mentioned outline for a research paper is for mainly scientific fields; APA format is used in several types of papers and should be outlined accordingly. 

  • Reference Page

The APA format reference page consists of a detailed list containing information regarding the sources used throughout the paper. This section begins on a new page titled "References", which is centered and on top of the page. The first line of the reference is flush left with the rest of the lines indented. The references are arranged alphabetically and are double-spaced. Books and journal titles are italicized, and the punctuation and capitalization used in the source are retained even if they are not standard. The format of the references should follow the guidelines outlined in the latest edition of APA format. The reference page is of utmost importance as it credits the sources used in the paper; if the sources are improperly credited or not credited at all, the author of the research paper loses credibility and risks plagiarism. 

Guides for Writing in APA Format

How to Use References in APA

APA referencing can be divided into two components: reference list and in-text citation. The core elements of an APA citation format are author rules, date rules, title rules, publisher rules, and the "Retrieved from…URL" if the source is found online. The reference begins with the author's last name followed by a comma and then his or her initials. Commas are used to separate multiple authors, and an ampersand is used before the name of the last author. If the source contains authors with the same surname and initial, their name should be added next to their initials in square brackets. Following the authors' name, the date when the source was published is written. In case the date is missing, "n.d." is written. The format of the title of the source differs depending on what is being referenced. For example, good titles for research papers require the proper nouns and the first word to be capitalized. The periodical title is italicized and written with normal capitalization. The volume number follows the title. Subsequently, the page numbers that were accessed in the article are mentioned . In Publisher rules, if the location of the publisher is in the US, the name of the city and the two-letter state code is written. Otherwise, the name of the city and the country are written for publishers located outside of the US . Following the correct format for the APA reference page is requisite.

Besides the above-mentioned rules, APA 7th edition has introduced a few more guidelines on how to write a paper in proper APA format. In case a source contains more than 20 authors, the names of the authors after the 19th author should be replaced by an ellipsis followed by the name of the last author. Furthermore, entries that include DOI do not require the label “DOI:”. The phrase “Retrieved from” when citing online sources should only be used if the retrieval date is also stated. Writers must use the latest updates in the APA paper format to remain current with their formatting.

The APA in-text citations are used within the paper. The APA style utilizes the “author-date” method, that is, the author’s last name followed by a comma and then the year the source was published are written in parenthesis. An in-text citation is used when information from a source is paraphrased or directly quoted. In-text citations are imperative for properly crediting sources and avoiding plagiarism. 

Rules for Abbreviations

In a research paper in APA format, abbreviations should be used sparingly. Excessive use of abbreviations can make the comprehension of the paper difficult for the reader, which is the opposite of what one aims to achieve when writing a research paper. If an abbreviation will be used less than three times in the paper, it is better to expand it each time. If abbreviations are to be used, periods are not required between each alphabet. For unfamiliar abbreviations, spell it out the first time it is used, and for abbreviations present in the dictionary, spell them out is not essential. For units of measurement, the abbreviation may be used when next to a number but should be spelled out if being used by itself. Abbreviations should be used judiciously in an APA-style research paper to ensure that they do not impede easy comprehension. 

How to Use Numbers in APA

In APA, the golden rule for using numbers is to write out numbers less than 10 in text and leave numbers above as is, for example:

  • 14 kilograms

  • seven individuals

However, some exceptions apply such as number can be left as it is in tables, in case of measurements, when displaying a math equation, or when mentioning time and age. It is better to write numbers out in text when starting a sentence with a number, in the case of a fraction, or when using a commonly used phrase or word. Overall, the purpose of these guidelines when using numbers is to enhance comprehension and maintain consistency.

Know how to structure your paper

  • 12-point Times New Roman
  • 0" between paragraphs
  • 1" margin all around
  • double spaced (275 words/page) / single-spaced (550 words/page)
  • 0.5" first line of a paragraph
Proceed to order

PapersOwl editors can also format your paper according to your specific requirements.

Right Structure

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

Rules for Punctuation

In APA style, general rules for punctuation are applicable. Writers should keep some pertinent guidelines in mind. One space is applicable after most punctuation marks. Moreover, the Oxford comma should be used in APA style format. No space should be placed after em dashes and no space should be applied on either side of an en dash. In most cases, the APA style follows universal punctuation and grammar rules. 

Usage of Graphics (Photos, Tables, and Figures) in APA Format

Graphics in APA should be numbered according to how they appear in the paper. Additionally, the graphic should provide new information and not reinstate what has already been written. When using tables, the information should be:

  • 12pt font and single or double-spaced.

  • The spacing should be consistent across all tables.

  • All headings should be centered and information should be left-aligned (indented if more than one line).

  • In the case of photographs, they should be black and white. Moreover, if adapted or reproduced information is used, it should be cited. 

Formats such as APA serve as an essential element in the field of academia. A set of guidelines that are recognized worldwide relieves the effort required to format a paper for the authors and improves readability for readers. Furthermore, knowing how to start research paper amd how to format APA paper allows researchers to properly credit secondary sources to avoid plagiarism. The APA research paper guidelines are comprehensive and cover all parts of a research paper, ensuring that all papers follow a standard pattern, which improves consistency and predictability. You can always buy a research paper from our trustworthy writing service.

Was this article helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

WHY WAIT? PLACE AN ORDER RIGHT NOW!

Just fill out the form, press the button, and have no worries!

By clicking “CONTINUE”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related emails.