Consistency in the order, structure, and format of a paper allows readers to focus on a paper’s content rather than its presentation.
To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments.
The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create another kind of work (e.g., a website, conference poster, or PowerPoint presentation), you may need to format your work differently in order to optimize its presentation, for example, by using different line spacing and font sizes. Follow the guidelines of your institution or publisher to adapt APA Style formatting guidelines as needed.
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APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.) | Generator, Template, Examples
Published on November 6, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on August 23, 2022.
The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual provides guidelines for clear communication , citing sources , and formatting documents. This article focuses on paper formatting.
Generate accurate APA citations with Scribbr
Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines:
- Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides.
- Double-space all text, including headings.
- Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches.
- Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.).
- Include a page number on every page.
Let an expert format your paper
Our APA formatting experts can help you to format your paper according to APA guidelines. They can help you with:
- Margins, line spacing, and indentation
- Font and headings
- Running head and page numbering
Table of contents
How to set up apa format (with template), apa alphabetization guidelines, apa format template [free download], page header, headings and subheadings, reference page, tables and figures, frequently asked questions about apa format.
References are ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name. If the author is unknown, order the reference entry by the first meaningful word of the title (ignoring articles: “the”, “a”, or “an”).
Why set up APA format from scratch if you can download Scribbr’s template for free?
Student papers and professional papers have slightly different guidelines regarding the title page, abstract, and running head. Our template is available in Word and Google Docs format for both versions.
- Student paper: Word | Google Docs
- Professional paper: Word | Google Docs
In an APA Style paper, every page has a page header. For student papers, the page header usually consists of just a page number in the page’s top-right corner. For professional papers intended for publication, it also includes a running head .
A running head is simply the paper’s title in all capital letters. It is left-aligned and can be up to 50 characters in length. Longer titles are abbreviated .
APA headings have five possible levels. Heading level 1 is used for main sections such as “ Methods ” or “ Results ”. Heading levels 2 to 5 are used for subheadings. Each heading level is formatted differently.
Want to know how many heading levels you should use, when to use which heading level, and how to set up heading styles in Word or Google Docs? Then check out our in-depth article on APA headings .
The title page is the first page of an APA Style paper. There are different guidelines for student and professional papers.
Both versions include the paper title and author’s name and affiliation. The student version includes the course number and name, instructor name, and due date of the assignment. The professional version includes an author note and running head .
For more information on writing a striking title, crediting multiple authors (with different affiliations), and writing the author note, check out our in-depth article on the APA title page .
The abstract is a 150–250 word summary of your paper. An abstract is usually required in professional papers, but it’s rare to include one in student papers (except for longer texts like theses and dissertations).
The abstract is placed on a separate page after the title page . At the top of the page, write the section label “Abstract” (bold and centered). The contents of the abstract appear directly under the label. Unlike regular paragraphs, the first line is not indented. Abstracts are usually written as a single paragraph without headings or blank lines.
Directly below the abstract, you may list three to five relevant keywords . On a new line, write the label “Keywords:” (italicized and indented), followed by the keywords in lowercase letters, separated by commas.
APA Style does not provide guidelines for formatting the table of contents . It’s also not a required paper element in either professional or student papers. If your instructor wants you to include a table of contents, it’s best to follow the general guidelines.
Place the table of contents on a separate page between the abstract and introduction. Write the section label “Contents” at the top (bold and centered), press “Enter” once, and list the important headings with corresponding page numbers.
The APA reference page is placed after the main body of your paper but before any appendices . Here you list all sources that you’ve cited in your paper (through APA in-text citations ). APA provides guidelines for formatting the references as well as the page itself.
Creating APA Style references
Play around with the Scribbr Citation Example Generator below to learn about the APA reference format of the most common source types or generate APA citations for free with Scribbr’s APA Citation Generator .
Formatting the reference page
Write the section label “References” at the top of a new page (bold and centered). Place the reference entries directly under the label in alphabetical order.
Finally, apply a hanging indent , meaning the first line of each reference is left-aligned, and all subsequent lines are indented 0.5 inches.
Tables and figures are presented in a similar format. They’re preceded by a number and title and followed by explanatory notes (if necessary).
Use bold styling for the word “Table” or “Figure” and the number, and place the title on a separate line directly below it (in italics and title case). Try to keep tables clean; don’t use any vertical lines, use as few horizontal lines as possible, and keep row and column labels concise.
Keep the design of figures as simple as possible. Include labels and a legend if needed, and only use color when necessary (not to make it look more appealing).
Check out our in-depth article about table and figure notes to learn when to use notes and how to format them.
The easiest way to set up APA format in Word is to download Scribbr’s free APA format template for student papers or professional papers.
Alternatively, you can watch Scribbr’s 5-minute step-by-step tutorial or check out our APA format guide with examples.
APA Style papers should be written in a font that is legible and widely accessible. For example:
- Times New Roman (12pt.)
- Arial (11pt.)
- Calibri (11pt.)
- Georgia (11pt.)
The same font and font size is used throughout the document, including the running head , page numbers, headings , and the reference page . Text in footnotes and figure images may be smaller and use single line spacing.
You need an APA in-text citation and reference entry . Each source type has its own format; for example, a webpage citation is different from a book citation .
Use Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator to generate flawless citations in seconds or take a look at our APA citation examples .
Yes, page numbers are included on all pages, including the title page , table of contents , and reference page . Page numbers should be right-aligned in the page header.
To insert page numbers in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, click ‘Insert’ and then ‘Page number’.
APA format is widely used by professionals, researchers, and students in the social and behavioral sciences, including fields like education, psychology, and business.
Be sure to check the guidelines of your university or the journal you want to be published in to double-check which style you should be using.
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Streefkerk, R. (2022, August 23). APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.) | Generator, Template, Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/format/
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APA Formatting and Style Guide (7th Edition)
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In this section
A step-by-step guide for creating and formatting APA Style student papers
The start of the semester is the perfect time to learn how to create and format APA Style student papers. This article walks through the formatting steps needed to create an APA Style student paper, starting with a basic setup that applies to the entire paper (margins, font, line spacing, paragraph alignment and indentation, and page headers). It then covers formatting for the major sections of a student paper: the title page, the text, tables and figures, and the reference list. Finally, it concludes by describing how to organize student papers and ways to improve their quality and presentation.
The guidelines for student paper setup are described and shown using annotated diagrams in the Student Paper Setup Guide (PDF, 3.40MB) and the A Step-by-Step Guide to APA Style Student Papers webinar . Chapter 1 of the Concise Guide to APA Style and Chapter 2 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association describe the elements, format, and organization for student papers. Tables and figures are covered in Chapter 7 of both books. Information on paper format and tables and figures and a full sample student paper are also available on the APA Style website.
The guidelines for basic setup apply to the entire paper. Perform these steps when you first open your document, and then you do not have to worry about them again while writing your paper. Because these are general aspects of paper formatting, they apply to all APA Style papers, student or professional. Students should always check with their assigning instructor or institution for specific guidelines for their papers, which may be different than or in addition to APA Style guidelines.
Seventh edition APA Style was designed with modern word-processing programs in mind. Most default settings in programs such as Academic Writer, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs already comply with APA Style. This means that, for most paper elements, you do not have to make any changes to the default settings of your word-processing program. However, you may need to make a few adjustments before you begin writing.
Use 1-in. margins on all sides of the page (top, bottom, left, and right). This is usually how papers are automatically set.
Use a legible font. The default font of your word-processing program is acceptable. Many sans serif and serif fonts can be used in APA Style, including 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 12-point Times New Roman, and 11-point Georgia. You can also use other fonts described on the font page of the website.
Double-space the entire paper including the title page, block quotations, and the reference list. This is something you usually must set using the paragraph function of your word-processing program. But once you do, you will not have to change the spacing for the entirety of your paper–just double-space everything. Do not add blank lines before or after headings. Do not add extra spacing between paragraphs. For paper sections with different line spacing, see the line spacing page.
Paragraph alignment and indentation
Align all paragraphs of text in the body of your paper to the left margin. Leave the right margin ragged. Do not use full justification. Indent the first line of every paragraph of text 0.5-in. using the tab key or the paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program. For paper sections with different alignment and indentation, see the paragraph alignment and indentation page.
Put a page number in the top right of every page header , including the title page, starting with page number 1. Use the automatic page-numbering function of your word-processing program to insert the page number in the top right corner; do not type the page numbers manually. The page number is the same font and font size as the text of your paper. Student papers do not require a running head on any page, unless specifically requested by the instructor.
Title page setup
Title page elements.
APA Style has two title page formats: student and professional (for details, see title page setup ). Unless instructed otherwise, students should use the student title page format and include the following elements, in the order listed, on the title page:
- Paper title.
- Name of each author (also known as the byline).
- Affiliation for each author.
- Course number and name.
- Instructor name.
- Assignment due date.
- Page number 1 in the top right corner of the page header.
The format for the byline depends on whether the paper has one author, two authors, or three or more authors.
- When the paper has one author, write the name on its own line (e.g., Jasmine C. Hernandez).
- When the paper has two authors, write the names on the same line and separate them with the word “and” (e.g., Upton J. Wang and Natalia Dominguez).
- When the paper has three or more authors, separate the names with commas and include “and” before the final author’s name (e.g., Malia Mohamed, Jaylen T. Brown, and Nia L. Ball).
Students have an academic affiliation, which identities where they studied when the paper was written. Because students working together on a paper are usually in the same class, they will have one shared affiliation. The affiliation consists of the name of the department and the name of the college or university, separated by a comma (e.g., Department of Psychology, George Mason University). The department is that of the course to which the paper is being submitted, which may be different than the department of the student’s major. Do not include the location unless it is part of the institution’s name.
Write the course number and name and the instructor name as shown on institutional materials (e.g., the syllabus). The course number and name are often separated by a colon (e.g., PST-4510: History and Systems Psychology). Write the assignment due date in the month, date, and year format used in your country (e.g., Sept. 10, 2020).
Title page line spacing
Double-space the whole title page. Place the paper title three or four lines down from the top of the page. Add an extra double-spaced blank like between the paper title and the byline. Then, list the other title page elements on separate lines, without extra lines in between.
Title page alignment
Center all title page elements (except the right-aligned page number in the header).
Title page font
Write the title page using the same font and font size as the rest of your paper. Bold the paper title. Use standard font (i.e., no bold, no italics) for all other title page elements.
Repeat the paper title at the top of the first page of text. Begin the paper with an introduction to provide background on the topic, cite related studies, and contextualize the paper. Use descriptive headings to identify other sections as needed (e.g., Method, Results, Discussion for quantitative research papers). Sections and headings vary depending on the paper type and its complexity. Text can include tables and figures, block quotations, headings, and footnotes.
Text line spacing
Double-space all text, including headings and section labels, paragraphs of text, and block quotations.
Center the paper title on the first line of the text. Indent the first line of all paragraphs 0.5-in.
Left-align the text. Leave the right margin ragged.
Block quotation alignment
Indent the whole block quotation 0.5-in. from the left margin. Double-space the block quotation, the same as other body text. Find more information on the quotations page.
Use the same font throughout the entire paper. Write body text in standard (nonbold, nonitalic) font. Bold only headings and section labels. Use italics sparingly, for instance, to highlight a key term on first use (for more information, see the italics page).
For detailed guidance on formatting headings, including headings in the introduction of a paper, see the headings page and the headings in sample papers .
- Alignment: Center Level 1 headings. Left-align Level 2 and Level 3 headings. Indent Level 4 and Level 5 headings like a regular paragraph.
- Font: Boldface all headings. Also italicize Level 3 and Level 5 headings. Create heading styles using your word-processing program (built into AcademicWriter, available for Word via the sample papers on the APA Style website).
Tables and figures setup
Tables and figures are only included in student papers if needed for the assignment. Tables and figures share the same elements and layout. See the website for sample tables and sample figures .
Tables include the following four elements:
- Body (rows and columns)
- Note (optional if needed to explain elements in the table)
Figures include the following four elements:
- Image (chart, graph, etc.)
- Note (optional if needed to explain elements in the figure)
Table line spacing
Double-space the table number and title. Single-, 1.5-, or double-space the table body (adjust as needed for readability). Double-space the table note.
Figure line spacing
Double-space the figure number and title. The default settings for spacing in figure images is usually acceptable (but adjust the spacing as needed for readability). Double-space the figure note.
Left-align the table number and title. Center column headings. Left-align the table itself and left-align the leftmost (stub) column. Center data in the table body if it is short or left-align the data if it is long. Left-align the table note.
Left-align the figure number and title. Left-align the whole figure image. The default alignment of the program in which you created your figure is usually acceptable for axis titles and data labels. Left-align the figure note.
Bold the table number. Italicize the table title. Use the same font and font size in the table body as the text of your paper. Italicize the word “Note” at the start of the table note. Write the note in the same font and font size as the text of your paper.
Bold the figure number. Italicize the figure title. Use a sans serif font (e.g., Calibri, Arial) in the figure image in a size between 8 to 14 points. Italicize the word “Note” at the start of the figure note. Write the note in the same font and font size as the text of your paper.
Placement of tables and figures
There are two options for the placement of tables and figures in an APA Style paper. The first option is to place all tables and figures on separate pages after the reference list. The second option is to embed each table and figure within the text after its first callout. This guide describes options for the placement of tables and figures embedded in the text. If your instructor requires tables and figures to be placed at the end of the paper, see the table and figure guidelines and the sample professional paper .
Call out (mention) the table or figure in the text before embedding it (e.g., write “see Figure 1” or “Table 1 presents”). You can place the table or figure after the callout either at the bottom of the page, at the top of the next page, or by itself on the next page. Avoid placing tables and figures in the middle of the page.
Embedding at the bottom of the page
Include a callout to the table or figure in the text before that table or figure. Add a blank double-spaced line between the text and the table or figure at the bottom of the page.
Embedding at the top of the page
Include a callout to the table in the text on the previous page before that table or figure. The table or figure then appears at the top of the next page. Add a blank double-spaced line between the end of the table or figure and the text that follows.
Embedding on its own page
Embed long tables or large figures on their own page if needed. The text continues on the next page.
Reference list setup
Reference list elements.
The reference list consists of the “References” section label and the alphabetical list of references. View reference examples on the APA Style website. Consult Chapter 10 in both the Concise Guide and Publication Manual for even more examples.
Reference list line spacing
Start the reference list at the top of a new page after the text. Double-space the entire reference list (both within and between entries).
Reference list alignment
Center the “References” label. Apply a hanging indent of 0.5-in. to all reference list entries. Create the hanging indent using your word-processing program; do not manually hit the enter and tab keys.
Reference list font
Bold the “References” label at the top of the first page of references. Use italics within reference list entries on either the title (e.g., webpages, books, reports) or on the source (e.g., journal articles, edited book chapters).
Check page order.
- Start each section on a new page.
- Arrange pages in the following order:
- Title page (page 1).
- Text (starts on page 2).
- Reference list (starts on a new page after the text).
- Check that headings accurately reflect the content in each section.
- Start each main section with a Level 1 heading.
- Use Level 2 headings for subsections of the introduction.
- Use the same level of heading for sections of equal importance.
- Avoid having only one subsection within a section (have two or more, or none).
Check assignment instructions
- Remember that instructors’ guidelines supersede APA Style.
- Students should check their assignment guidelines or rubric for specific content to include in their papers and to make sure they are meeting assignment requirements.
Tips for better writing
- Ask for feedback on your paper from a classmate, writing center tutor, or instructor.
- Budget time to implement suggestions.
- Use spell-check and grammar-check to identify potential errors, and then manually check those flagged.
- Proofread the paper by reading it slowly and carefully aloud to yourself.
- Consult your university writing center if you need extra help.
About the author
APA 7: Introduction to APA Format (7th ed.)
- Introduction to APA Format (7th ed.)
- Formatting a Paper
- In-Text Citations
- References List
- Getting Research Help
What is APA?
APA style is a citation style usually used in Psychology, Library and Information Science, and other fields. APA stands for the American Psychological Association. The 7th edition was published in 2019 and has significant changes from the 6th edition (2009).
APA 7th Ed. Manual
The APA Publication Manual is the official guide to APA format.
Merced College Library APA 7 Handout
- APA 7th ed. Handout From the Merced College Library.
Introduction to Citation Styles: APA 7th ed.
" This video introduces the purpose and basic conventions of citing sources in-text and in a reference list using the American Psychological Association (APA) Style, 7th edition, 2019... " ( CSUDH Library , 3:00).
Why, When, & How to Cite Information
- To give credit to others for their ideas
- To provide support for your argument
- To help your reader find and read the sources you used
When to Cite
- Paraphrasing, summarizing, or directly quoting from any source
- Acknowledging another person for an idea
- Using your own previous work
How to Cite
APA citation requires two parts:
- In-Text Citations - brief citations included within the text of your paper. They point your reader to the full citation at the end of your paper.
- References page - a page at the end of your paper listing all the sources you used.
- Next: Tutorials >>
- Last Updated: Feb 21, 2023 1:55 PM
- URL: https://libguides.mccd.edu/apa7
Writing a research or term paper in APA format? This starter APA format template for Word provides easy access to styles that match APA guidelines. Follow the correct APA format for a paper using this example of APA format as a guideline to help you create an amazing research paper, term paper, essay, and more. This is an accessible template.
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To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments. The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal.
Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines: Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides. Double-space all text, including headings. Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches. Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.). Include a page number on every page.
Note: The APA Publication Manual, 7th 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.
Additional Resources. APA Headings and Seriation. APA PowerPoint Slide Presentation. APA Sample Paper. Tables and Figures. Abbreviations. APA Classroom Poster. Changes in the 7th Edition. General APA FAQs.
APA Style has two title page formats: student and professional (for details, see title page setup ). Unless instructed otherwise, students should use the student title page format and include the following elements, in the order listed, on the title page: Paper title. Name of each author (also known as the byline). Affiliation for each author.
APA style is a citation style usually used in Psychology, Library and Information Science, and other fields. APA stands for the American Psychological Association. The 7th edition was published in 2019 and has significant changes from the 6th edition (2009). APA 7th Ed. Manual.
APA style paper Writing a research or term paper that needs to be in APA format? Use this APA-style report template to get started, with styles formatted to match APA guidelines and sample content to show how it all goes together. This APA sample paper template will help you finish your APA formatted paper with ease. This is an accessible template.
APA styles Writing a research or term paper in APA format? This starter APA format template for Word provides easy access to styles that match APA guidelines. Follow the correct APA format for a paper using this example of APA format as a guideline to help you create an amazing research paper, term paper, essay, and more.