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APA Formatting

General Guidelines

  1. Make 1 inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides.
  2. The first word in every paragraph should be indented one half inch.
  3. APA recommends using a font that is accessible to all readers.
    • sans serif: 11-point Calibri or 11-point Arial
    • serif: 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia
  4. Double space the entire research paper, including the title page.
  5. Left align the text.


APA Paper Components

Every paper should include at least four main sections:

  1. Title Page
  2. Text
  3. Reference List

Student papers do not typically include a running head, an author note, or an abstract, unless specifically requested by the instructor.

Title Page

A title page is always required in all APA formatted papers. Students should follow the student title page guidelines, unless their instructor requires them to use the professional version. 

The student title page should include:

  • paper title;
  • author(s) name(s);
  • author affiliation (i.e. the department and the name of the university);
  • course number and full name;
  • instructor name;
  • assignment due date;
  • page number (start numbering the title page from 1).


If requested by the instructor, students may need to include an abstract, especially for capstone projects.

The abstract should be one paragraph of between 150 and 250 words. It is not indented. The section label "Abstract" is centered at the top of the page and it is in bold title case.

Text (Main Body)

The text of the paper should start on a new page after the title page (and abstract, if included). On the first page of the text, you should repeat the paper title in title case, bold, and centered.

Use double-spacing throughout the paper, left align the text and indent the first line of each paragraph by one tab key (usually set to 0.5 in.). 

Throughout the body, in-text citations are used and they include the author’s/authors’ name(s) and the publication year, followed by the page number of the text cited if applicable (see the In-Text Citations section).


Organizing a Paper with Headings

In order to effectively organized the ideas in your paper, you can use headings to separate each different section. APA recommends the use of a maximum of five possible headings. Not all papers must include headings.

Reference List

The Reference List appears on a new page after the end of the paper.

  1. Center and bold the title “References” (do not include quotation marks, underline, or italicize this title).
  2. Alphabetize and double-space all entries.
  3. Use a hanging indent for all entries (the first line of each reference is flush left and subsequent lines are indented by 0.5 in).
  4. Every article/source mentioned in the paper and used in your study should be referenced and have an entry.

Sample Paper

Sample Paper and Template

This is a Word office version of a sample APA student paper, and it can also be used as a template for formatting your paper.