A Beginner’s Guide to APA Format in Papers

APA format in papers can be a daunting and confusing topic for many students, yet it is a vital component of academic writing.

Proper use of APA format not only ensures that your papers meet the standards set by the American Psychological Association, but it also helps to organize and present your ideas in a clear and professional manner.

From formatting the title page to correctly citing sources, understanding and implementing APA format is a critical skill for any student. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to using APA format in your papers.

APA Format in Papers
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APA Paper

An APA (American Psychological Association) paper is a type of academic paper that follows the formatting and citation guidelines set forth by the APA. The APA style is commonly used in the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology, and education.

In an APA paper, the text is double-spaced and written in 12-point font, typically Times New Roman. The paper includes a title page, an abstract, main body, and references.

The title page includes the title of the paper, the author’s name, and institutional affiliation. The abstract is a brief summary of the paper, usually between 150-250 words.

The main body of the paper includes an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, and discussion. In-text citations are used to give credit to sources within the text. Finally, the references page lists all sources cited in the paper, in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.

The APA style also has specific guidelines for formatting headings, tables and figures, and other elements of the paper. Following these guidelines ensures that the paper is clear, concise, and consistent, and helps the reader easily locate information and understand the content.

APA Citation Generator

Basically, an APA citation generator is a tool that automatically generates citations in the APA style for sources used in an academic paper.

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These generators are usually available as online tools or software programs that allow users to input information about their sources, such as the author’s name, publication date, and title, and then automatically create a properly formatted citation.

The APA citation style has specific rules for citing different type of sources, such as books, articles, websites, and other materials. A citation generator can help ensure that all necessary information is included and that the citation is formatted correctly according to APA format in papers.

Here are some benefits of using a citation generator:

  • Time-saving: Citation generator can save a lot of time by quickly generating accurate citations in the appropriate format.
  • Accuracy: Citation generators can help to ensure that citations are accurate and complete, reducing the risk of errors or omissions.
  • Consistency: Citation generators can help to ensure that all citations are consistently formatted, following the guidelines set forth by the APA style.
  • Ease of use: Citation generators are often designed to be user-friendly, with simple interfaces that allow users to input information quickly and easily.
  • Convenience: Citation generators can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, making it easy to create citations from any device.
  • Learning tool: Citation generators can also serve as a learning tool, helping users to understand the formatting and citation rules of the APA style.
  • Free: Many citation generators are available for free, making them an accessible and affordable resource for students and researchers.

There are several free online APA citation generators available. Here are a few options:

  1. MyBib
  2. Scribbr
  3. Cite This For Me
  4. Citation Machine
  5. Chegg Writing
  6. Grammarly
  7. Quillbot

While these citation generators can be helpful, it is still important to double-check the generated citations to ensure they are accurate and complete. Additionally, it is always a good idea to consult the APA manual or a reliable style guide for further guidance on citation formatting.

APA 7th Edition Format Example

Here are some examples of how to format text-citations and references for different types of sources in APA 7th edition:

1. Journal Article

In-text citation: (Smith, 2021)


Smith, J. D. (2021). The effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance. Journal of Sleep Research, 30(2), e13140. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13140

2. Book

In-text citation: (Johnson, 2018)


Johnson, R. (2018). The history of the Civil War. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

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3. Conference Proceedings

In-text citation: (Garcia et al., 2020)

Garcia, S. P., Brown, K. T., & Smith, J. M. (2020). Trends in technology use in higher education. In K. S. K. Brown & S. R. Lee (Eds.), Proceedings from the International Conference on Educational Technology (pp. 45-52). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-36595-6_5

4. Website

In-text citation: (Greenhouse, 2020)


Greenhouse, S. (2020, July 30). The coronavirus pandemic has intensified systemic economic racism against black Americans. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-pandemic-has-intensified-systemic-economic-racism-against-black-americans

5. Interview

In-text citation: (B. Johnson, personal communication, May 1, 2023)


Johnson, B. (2023, May 1). Personal communication.

6. Report

In-text citation: (National Institute of Mental Health, 2020)


National Institute of Mental Health. (2020). Strategic plan for research: Setting new directions. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/strategic-planning-reports/strategic-plan-for-research-setting-new-directions.shtml

However, the specific format of a reference can vary depending on the type of source and its characteristics (e.g., number of authors, publication year, etc.).

These examples should serve as a general guide, but it is always a good idea to consult the APA format for papers manual or a reliable style guide for specific guidance on formatting your citations and references.

APA Research Paper Format

You need to apply the following APA format for papers guidelines:

1. Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides

The APA recommends setting the margins for all sides of the paper to 1 inch (2.54 cm). This provides enough white space on the page and makes the text more readable.

2. Double-space all text, including headings

The APA recommends double-spacing all text, including headings. This makes the text easier to read and provides enough space for comments and corrections.

3. Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches

The first line of every paragraph in the research paper should be indented 0.5 inches (1.27 cm). This creates a visual break between paragraphs and makes the paper more organized and easy to read.

4. Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12 pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.)

The APA recommends using an accessible font, such as Times New Roman 12 pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt. This makes the text easy to read and ensures that the paper is accessible to readers with visual impairments.

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5. Include a page number on every page

Every page of the research paper should include a page number, typically placed in the top right corner of the page. This helps readers keep track of where they are in the paper and provides a way to reference specific sections of the paper.

Following these formatting rules helps ensure that the research paper is organized, easy to read, and accessible to readers.

APA Format Example PDF

The two sample papers provided in annotated form in the Publication Manual of APA are valuable resources for students and researchers who are new to APA format for papers. These papers demonstrate how to format a research paper using APA guidelines.

Moreover, the annotations highlight key aspects of the formatting and provide guidance and where to find more information in the Publication manual.

By following the formatting and citation guidelines provided in these sample papers, you can ensure that your own research papers meet the standards of academic excellence expected in the social sciences:

APA Format Reference Page

The APA format reference page is the final page of an APA-style paper that lists all sources cited within the paper. The reference page is titled “References” and is located on a separate page following the end of the text of the paper.

In general, the reference page is formatted with hanging indentation, where the first line of each reference is flush left and subsequent lines are indented.

The reference page is an important component of an APA-style paper, as it serves several crucial functions, including:

  • Providing a complete list of sources cited
  • Demonstrating the scope of research
  • Supporting the credibility of the research
  • Providing information for further research
  • Meeting academic standards

APA Format Font

APA recommends the use of two common fonts for APA format in papers: Times New Roman and Arial.

Times New Roman is a serif font and is preferred for papers that will be printed. It is a classic font that is easy to read and is generally used in more traditional academic disciplines, such as history and literature.

Arial is a sans-serif font that is preferred for papers that will be viewed on a screen or in digital format. It is a modern font that is easy to read on screens and is generally used in more contemporary academic disciplines, such as psychology and sociology.

The recommended font size for APA-style papers is 12 points. This ensures that the text is readable and easy to follow. Additionally, APA guidelines recommend using black ink on white paper to maximize readability.


In conclusion, using APA format in papers is an essential skill that all students should master. Avoiding mistakes when writing a scholarship essay is critical to presenting yourself in the best light possible, and using APA format is just one way to do this.

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