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APA Style Guide: Main Body

Include a running header (a short title of your paper) in ALL CAPS (just the title, omit the phrase ‘running head’ that you included on the title page). Center the full title at the beginning of the main body of the paper.

Your paper should:

Headings should be bold and centered, with all major words capitalized. Sub-headings should be left-justified and bold, with all major words capitalized.

apa essay format body

General Format

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apa essay format body

APA Sample Paper

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Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style  can be found here .

Media Files: APA Sample Student Paper  ,  APA Sample Professional Paper

This resource is enhanced by Acrobat PDF files. Download the free Acrobat Reader

Note: The APA Publication Manual, 7 th Edition specifies different formatting conventions for student  and  professional  papers (i.e., papers written for credit in a course and papers intended for scholarly publication). These differences mostly extend to the title page and running head. Crucially, citation practices do not differ between the two styles of paper.

However, for your convenience, we have provided two versions of our APA 7 sample paper below: one in  student style and one in  professional  style.

Note: For accessibility purposes, we have used "Track Changes" to make comments along the margins of these samples. Those authored by [AF] denote explanations of formatting and [AWC] denote directions for writing and citing in APA 7. 

APA 7 Student Paper:

Apa 7 professional paper:.

How to Write an Essay in APA Format

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

apa essay format body

Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity,, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.

apa essay format body

What Is APA Format?

Apa essay format basics, steps to a successful essay, frequently asked questions.

If your instructor has asked you to write an APA format essay, it might at first seem like a daunting task, especially if you are accustomed to using another style such as MLA or Chicago. But you can master these rules too.

An essay is one type of paper that can be written in APA format; others include lab reports, experimental reports, and case studies. Before you begin, familiarize yourself with some of the basic guidelines of writing a paper in APA format. Of course, it will also be important to follow any other formatting instructions that are part of your assignment.

Whether you’re taking an introductory or graduate-level psychology class, chances are strong that you will have to write at least one paper during the course of the semester. In almost every case, you will need to write your paper in APA format, the official publication style of the American Psychological Association . It is also used for academic journals.

APA format is used in a range of disciplines including psychology , education, and other social sciences. The format dictates presentation elements of your paper including spacing, margins, and how the content is structured.

Most instructors and publication editors have strict guidelines when it comes to how your format your writing. Not only does adhering to APA format allow readers to know what to expect from your paper, but it also means that your work will not lose critical points over minor formatting errors. 

While the formatting requirements for your paper might vary depending upon your instructor's directions, your essay will most likely need to include a title page, abstract, introduction, body, conclusion, and reference sections.

Your essay should have a title page in APA format. This title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and school affiliation. In some instances, your teacher might require additional information such as the course title, instructor name, and the date.

An abstract is a brief summary of your paper that immediately follows the title page. It is not required for student papers, according to APA style. However, your instructor may request one.

If you include an abstract , it should be no more than 100 to 200 words, although this may vary depending upon the instructor requirements.

Your essay should also include a reference list with all of the sources that were cited in your essay,

For an APA-style essay, the text will include the actual essay itself: The introduction, body, and conclusion.

For professional papers (usually not student papers), every page of the essay also includes a running head at the top left. The running head is a shortened form of the title, often the first few words, and should be no more than 50 characters (including spaces).

In addition to ensuring that you cite your sources properly and present information according to the rules of APA style, there are a number of things you can do to make the writing process a little bit easier.

Choose a Topic

Start by choosing a good topic to write about. Ideally, you want to select a subject that is specific enough to let you fully research and explore the topic, but not so specific that you have a hard time finding sources of information.

If you choose something too specific, you may find yourself with not enough to write about. If you choose something too general, you might find yourself overwhelmed with information.

Research Your Topic

Start doing research as early as possible. Begin by looking at some basic books and articles on your topic to help develop it further. What is the question you are going to answer with your essay? What approach will you take to the topic?

Once you are more familiar with the subject, create a preliminary source list of potential books, articles, essays, and studies that you may end up using in your essay.

Remember, any source used in your essay must be included in your reference section. Conversely, any source listed in your references must be cited somewhere in the body of your paper.

Write Your Rough Draft

With research in hand, you are ready to begin. Some people like to create an outline to organize their argument prior to drafting. You may want to start with a very rough outline, and then add details.

Once you have a detailed outline, the next step is to translate it from notes to complete sentences and paragraphs. Remember, this is a first draft. It doesn't have to be perfect.

As you write your essay, be sure to keep careful track of the sources that you cite.

Review and Revise

After you have prepared a rough draft of your essay, it's time to revise, review, and prepare your final draft. In addition to making sure that your writing is cohesive and supported by your sources, you should also check carefully for typos, grammar errors, and possible formatting mistakes.

How do you write an interview essay in APA format?

When citing information or quotations taken from an interview, APA format requires that you cite the source, how the information was collected, and the date of the interview. They should not be included in the reference section, however, because they are not something that can be located by a reader in any published source or searchable database.

Instead, the information should be cited parenthetically in the main body of the text. For example: “There was an increase in the number of college students who screened positive for depression/anxiety” (R. Heathfield, personal communication, May 9, 2021).

How do you cite an essay in APA format?

If the essay is in a chapter of a book, edited collection, or anthology, APA format states that you should cite the last name, first name, title of essay, title of collection, publisher, year, and page range. For example: Smith, John, "The Light House," A Book of Poems , editing by Peter Roberts, Allworth Press, 2005, pp. 20-25.

How do I write a two-part essay in APA format?

According to APA format, a two-part essay is formatted the same as an essay, however, you'll need to create two title pages.

How do I include a direct quote in an APA format essay?

If you're including a short direct quote in your APA-format essay, you will need to cite the author, year of publication, and page number (p.) or page number span (pp.). Quotations longer than 40 words should omit the quotation marks and be put in the text using block quotation formatting, on its own line and indented 1/2 inch from the left margin.

How do I make a cover page for an essay in APA format?

The cover page or "title page" for an essay in APA format should always include the title of your paper, your name, and school affiliation as well as the course title, instructor name, and date, if requested by your teacher.

Nagda S.  How to write a scientific abstract.   J Indian Prosthodont Soc.  2013;13(3):382-383. doi:10.1007/s13191-013-0299-x

American Psychological Association.  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2019.

By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

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APA Paper Structure

Four Basic Parts of APA Style

**NOTE that  running heads are no longer required for student papers under the 7th edition of APA. Instead, a student paper heading should only include the page number. 

You can see an example APA paper here. *Check with your professor for any specific heading structures required for an assignment.

**All parts of the paper should be in one of the following fonts: 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Arial, 11-point Georgia, 11-point Calibri, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicod. The paper should also utilize 1-inch margins throughout.

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Citation Style: APA 7th Edition: The Main Body

The Main Body

Formatting the Main Body

Your main body should follow all of the rules outlined in the  Basic Formatting  tab. The full title of your paper should be at the top of the first page of the main body. It should bolded and in title case . There should be no extra spaces between the title and the beginning of your paper.

The beginning of every paragraph should be indented by half an inch (just hit the "tab" key on your keyboard). There should be no extra spaces between paragraphs. To ensure this is the case in Microsoft Word, use the spacing tool under the home tab to make sure both options at the bottom say "Add space", not "Remove space."

apa essay format body

To see an example of a student paper in APA 7th edition format, click the link below:

In-Text Citations

In-text citations are used to direct the reader to the source you used to get a particular piece of information, usually contained in one sentence. APA requires parenthetical citations, instead of footnotes. This means that the basic citation information is contained in parentheses at the end of the sentence where the information from that source was used. This parenthetical citation occurs right before the ending punctuation of the sentence.

The purpose of the in-text citation is to allow the reader to check the references at the end of the page to find the full citation. From that information, they can find and read the original source, if they wish. That is why everything cited in-text should also be fully cited on your references page, and vice-versa.

An in-text citation requires three main elements for quotations and two main elements for a paraphrase. (Paraphrased information does not need to have a page number or paragraph number cited, however, it is recommended that you still include this information if you are paraphrasing from a longer document. This will help the reader to locate where you found your information.)

These are the three elements of an in-text citation:

(creator or contributor last name, year of publication, page or paragraph number)

As an example:

(Doe, 2018, p. 11)

You can also use the narrative format  (with a signal phrase) to include some of this information in the sentence, rather than in the parentheses at the end. For example:

Jane Doe (2018) asserted the importance of learning APA format and citation style early in the degree program to improve academic success (p. 11) .

Other verbs that can be used for signal phrases include: 

argued, asserted, claimed, commented, confirmed, contended, declared, denied, emphasized, illustrated, implied, insisted, noted, observed, pointed out, reported, responded, said, suggested, thought , and wrote.

Links to Further Help

APA In-Text Citations and References Overview Video

The video below (created by Keuka College librarian, Nancy Marksbury) covers the basics of in-text citations and references format.

Reference Librarian

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American Psychological Association

Paragraph Alignment and Indentation

APA Style includes guidelines for paragraph alignment and indentation to ensure that papers are formatted in a consistent and readable manner. All writers should follow these guidelines.

Paragraph alignment

Align the text of an APA Style paper to the left margin. Leave the right margin uneven, or “ragged.” Do not use full justification for student papers or manuscripts being submitted for publication.

Do not insert hyphens (manual breaks) in words at the end of line. However, it is acceptable if your word-processing program automatically inserts breaks in long hyperlinks ( such as in a DOI or URL in a reference list entry ).

Paragraph indentation

Indent the first line of each paragraph of text 0.5 in. from the left margin. Use the tab key or the automatic paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program to achieve the indentation (the default setting is likely already 0.5 in.). Do not use the space bar to create indentation.

Exceptions to these paragraph-formatting requirements are as follows:

apa essay format body

This guidance has been expanded from the 6th edition. 

Related handout

From the APA Style blog

apa essay format body

APA Style student papers webinar

A new APA Style webinar, “A Step-by-Step Guide for APA Style Student Papers,” taking place on September 10, 2020, will provide detailed guidance on creating, formatting, and organizing APA Style student papers.


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  1. APA Style Guide: Main Body

    Include a running header (a short title of your paper) in ALL CAPS (just the title, omit the phrase 'running head' that you included on the

  2. APA Body

    Like the rest of the paper, the pages of the main body should be double-spaced and typed in Times New Roman, 12 pt. The margins are set at 1” on all sides.

  3. APA Sample Paper

    Note: The APA Publication Manual, 7th Edition specifies different formatting conventions for student and professional papers (i.e., papers written for credit in

  4. APA Style Tutorial: Body Paragraphs

    APA Style (6th Ed.): Title Page & Running Head - NEW VERSION IN DESCRIPTION · How to Write a Paper Using APA Format · APA Formatting 7th Edition.

  5. How to Write an Essay in APA Format

    There should be uniform margins of at least one inch at the top, bottom, left, and right sides of your essay. · The text should be in Times New

  6. APA Paper Structure

    The MAIN BODY of your paper includes the page numbers, a centered boldface title, and body of text. It will most likely include in-text citations

  7. Your APA paper should include five major sections

    Your paper should begin with a title page that follows APA format. The info ... Each body paragraph should include a topic sentence.

  8. APA formatting sample paper.pdf

    APA style uses headings to help organize body paragraphs in papers. The headings indicate the topic of a section. Most papers only use one or two levels, but

  9. Citation Style: APA 7th Edition: The Main Body

    Your main body should follow all of the rules outlined in the Basic Formatting tab. The full title of your paper should be at the top of the

  10. Paragraph alignment and indentation

    Align the text of an APA Style paper to the left margin. Leave the right margin uneven, or “ragged.” Do not use full justification for student papers or