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Citing in APA Format: Setting Up Your Paper

This guide will assist you in citing electronic and print resources. Each tab will indicate the type of resource and how to cite.

Formatting your Paper - APA

General APA Guidelines

Your essay should be typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.

Include a page header  (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. To create a page header/running head, insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.

Major Paper Sections

Your essay should include four major sections: the Title PageAbstractMain Body, andReferences.

Title Page

The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. Please note that on the title page, your page header/running head should look like this:

Running head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER

Pages after the title page should have a running head that looks like this:

TITLE OF YOUR PAPER

After consulting with publication specialists at the APA, OWL staff learned that the APA 6th edition, first printing sample papers have incorrect examples of Running heads on pages after the title page. This link will take you to the APA site where you can find a complete list of all the errors in the APA's 6th edition style guide.

Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends that your title be no more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.

Beneath the title, type the author's name: first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).

Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation, which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.

This image shows the title page for an APA sixth edition paper.

APA Title Page

Abstract

Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting, italics, underlining, or quotation marks).

Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph double-spaced. Your abstract should be between 150 and 250 words.

You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.

This image shows the Abstract page of an APA paper.

APA Abstract Page

Courtesy of the Purdue Owl

Quick Guide to Set Up

  • Font:  Times New Roman, 12 point.
  • Page margins: One inch from top, bottom, left and right side of each page.
  • Body text line spacing: Double-spaced.
  • Paragraph indentation: Indent the first line of each paragraph by one-half inch from the left margin. (Use your word processor’s Help feature for instructions on formatting paragraph indentation.)
  • Use two spaces after the period at the end of a sentence.
  • All text is left-justified, with an unjustified (ragged) right margin.
  • Do not hyphenate words at the ends of lines.
  • Use a running head throughout the paper (see examples on pages 5 and 6). (If possible, use your word processor’s Header function to place it automatically on every page.) The header should appear one-half inch below the top of the page, flush left, in all capital letters; it is a shortened version of the paper’s title (up to 50 characters, including spaces). The page number appears in the upper right corner.
  • On the cover sheet (first page), the words “Running head:” (in caps/lower case) precede the running head title (in upper case). On subsequent pages, the words “Running head:” are not used; only the actual running head title appears (in upper case). (Consult your word processor’s Help feature for instructions on setting up different headers on the first and subsequent pages of your document.)
  • The title of your paper is typed in caps/lowercase letters (also known as title case), centered on the page. If the title requires more than one line, double-space between lines.