Principles of Academic Paper Formatting in APA Style

Principles of Academic Paper Formatting in APA Style
Table of Contents
  1. Principles of Academic Paper Formatting in APA Style
  2. APA Style Writing Elements and Overall Structure
  3. Body of the Paper and References Page Format

Students call formatting an essay the hardest part of any academic writing process for example college homework. They share that it takes more time to study writing style guides than reading a particular article or a whole chapter to retell it. The principle of every citation style is alike: it’s all about inserting in-text citations and developing bibliography with the list of sources used throughout the paper. However, each format has its nuances. This time we’re going to talk about APA 6th edition writing style designed and recommended by the American Psychological Association publication manual unlike mla format.

The usage of APA style is obvious: as far as it was prepared by the American Psychological Association, it is most often applied to humanities, social sciences, medical, and liberal arts disciplines such as:

  • Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology
  • Social work
  • Education
  • Nursing
  • Literature
  • Gender studies

You can face APA style or APA format not only in academic essays. Any publication of research done in the fields mentioned above is usually written according to the rules set by the American Psychological Association as well, i.e. - APA format paper. The first time you may meet the necessity to format your paper like this is your first year in college. High school students rarely meet this formatting style as APA 6th edition requires a more advanced writing level than MLA, for instance.

It may take too long to read the entire guide on APA style, so we have shortened the information. This article briefly explains how to add in-text citations correctly as well as how to make a bibliography (a.k.a. Reference page in APA). We tell which resources to use to format the work. Try to minimize bias in your language, avoid plagiarism (copy-pasted text without proper citations), and pick only high-quality examples of APA formatted essays with in-text citations.

P.S. Use a guide/manual known as The American Psychological Association Handbook 7th Edition (a 2020 version) when you write your paper using APA style.

APA Style Writing Elements and Overall Structure

First of all, every publication written in accordance with all principles set by the American Psychological Association should begin with a title page. The next elements appear on the first page to identify your work:

  1. Your topic’s full title.
  2. Your name and last name.
  3. Educational institution (school, college, or university name). The format requires that the title is placed twice: in the page heading called Running head and in the bottom of your first page.

When creating a title page in APA writing style, be careful with the margins (one-inch from all sides), font (Times New Roman 12 pt. is preferred), page numbers, reference list and other small details. The heading should appear on every page, but less Running Head words.

The second feature of any well-formatted paper is - abstract. The American Psychological Association publication manual requires all research works to include an abstract which is 150-200 words summary of the text. It contains just one paragraph written in APA style. A good sample of abstract may help if you have no idea how to prepare summaries. Another way to get help regarding this section’s length is to consult your teacher. Finally, base your examples on the rules and guidelines that can be found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. The information provided in the guide above follows the 6th edition (2009) of the manual. The 7th edition was published in 2020 and is the most recent version. You can find a lot of useful information in this manual. The abstract should consult your readers on the content in order to let them decide whether they want to read your publication from cover to cover. It is critical to summarize every paragraph of your paper.

Once you’re done with an abstract, move to the introduction and other parts by sticking to the chosen writing style. There are MLA, APA, Chicago, ASA style paper, etc.

Body of the Paper and References Page Format

The only difference between the ways MLA and APA introduction, body, and conclusion look is the necessity to add some headings to divide the parts of the text. Such headings should be bold. Social science research paper written according to the American Psychological Association guidelines might include the following headings placed in the center: Introduction, Method, Participants, Research Design, Measures, Procedure, Results/Findings, Discussion, Conclusion. All information should be properly separated in these blocks.

All parts except for the conclusion can have citations. Each time you add an in-text citation, direct or indirect, specify the author, date (publication year), and a number of the page where the citation was taken from (if available). Put this source information in the parentheticals. That’s the way you should cite in APA style.

Put down all sources you use on a separate piece of paper to prepare References page in APA style faster at the end. Such information is required to show where you used to find relevant citations, appraise the authors, and share sources with your readers. They may want to check them later. Actually, that’s why writers conduct research before writing a research paper or essay in APA style.

We will consult you on bibliography page only, but you can read the rest of the academic paper structure online. Each References page entry must provide the information on every single source recalled in the essay, including:

  • Author’s last name and initials
  • Year of publication
  • Title of the article, book, newspaper, or any other source you used
  • Details like version, edition, issue, number, etc.
  • Publisher and publishing location (town/city and state).
  • Type in the page number if known.

If you need Harvard outlines for your next work, there is a separate blog telling you all details about this format. We have included the most eminent examples of APA style updates to cheer you up:

1. Cover page. For student papers, the cover page should include all of the following details:

  • Paper title
  • Student name
  • Affiliation (e.g., school, department, etc.)
  • Course number and title
  • Course instructor
  • Due date

2. Font. Recommended fonts include:

  • 12-pt. Times New Roman
  • 11-pt. Calibri, Arial, Georgia
  • 10-pt. Lucida, Sans Unicode, Computer Modern

3. Running heads. These are no longer required for student papers. When included on professional papers, do not include the words “Running head:” before the paper title/head. For example:


4. Pronouns. “They” can be used as a gender-neutral pronoun.

5. Bias-free language guidelines. There are updated and new sections on guidelines for this section. New sections address participation in research, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality.

6. Spacing after sentences. Add only a single space after end punctuation.

7. Tables and figures. The citing format is now streamlined so that both tables and figures should include a name and number above the table/figure, and a note underneath the table/figure.

8. In-text citations. If there are 3 or more source authors, you can shorten the reference by using “eg al.” after the first name.

  • 6th ed. – (Ikemoto, Richardson, Murphy, Yoshida 2016)
  • 7th ed. – (Ikemoto et al., 2016)

9. Citing books. The location of the publisher can be omitted. Also, e-books no longer need to mention the format (e.g., Kindle, etc.)

10. Using DOIs. DOI numbers should be formatted as a URL.

  • Example:

11. Using URLs. URLs no longer need to be prefaced by the words “Retrieved from.”

Any problems with academic pages of your essay in APA style? You may consult online writers or simply order samples or custom essays for cheap.