HOW TO APA FORMAT ANYTHING: THE ULTIMATE APA STYLE GUIDE
Figuring out how to APA format your assignment is by far one of the most tedious and stressful aspects of writing any essay, paper, or dissertation. No matter what citation style you’re using, paper formatting is very specific – down to the very last punctuation mark.
While it may seem tedious and annoying, formatting your paper properly is essential in any course, class, or field. In fact, if you take a look at your rubric, you’ll see that there is usually an entire section of grading based on your ability to properly format your paper and follow the style guidelines. Following these guidelines ensures you avoid any potential plagiarism; getting caught for plagiarism, even if it’s accidental, could get you kicked out of school and derail your academic career.
APA format for student academic papers tends to be a little more complex than MLA or Chicago Style. There are a few extra steps you’ll need to take, and your citations are going to be a little longer than what you might be used to if you’ve never written an APA style paper before.
This guide will show you how to APA format all of the sources you’ll need to use in your assignments, essays, academic papers, and references list.
APA STYLE: THE BASICS
Let’s start with the basics: What is APA style? APA stands for the American Psychological Association, who sets out the rules and guidelines for this particular format. It was originally created in 1929 for people working in the sciences and humanities in order to establish some type of cohesion and standard for publications within various disciplines such as psychology, anthropology, or business.
Since then, APA style has become more widely used in a range of disciplines and areas of study. Some of the courses and disciplines in which you will likely need to use it include:
● Natural sciences
● Behavioural sciences
● Social sciences
One of the tricky things about paper formatting is the fact that style guidelines change periodically. This happens to just about every style manual, and APA is no different. APA style recently added an update to the 7th edition last year in 2020, and this is the guideline we’re going to show you in this article.
We’re going to break down each type of source you might need to use and show you how to APA format all of those sources so you’re well prepared no matter what type of assignment you have to complete.
THE STRUCTURE OF AN APA PAPER
A small, but key, element to learning how to APA format your assignment is knowing what order each of the pages needs to go in. This will tell you how you should structure your paper.
Typically, an APA style paper will follow this structure:
1. Title page
3. Text of your essay
4. References page
The pages in this list show everything you would possibly ever need to include in your paper, but chances are you likely won’t use some of those elements. Most student APA style papers will include the title page, essay text, and references page.
SETTING UP AN APA STYLE PAPER: QUICK NOTES ON APA PAPER FORMATTING
Like any academic style guide, an APA style paper must follow specific guidelines and rules, down to the very small details. Here are some of the formatting guidelines you’ll need to know before you even get into the citations and referencing.
● Spacing: All papers should be double-spaced. Do not add an extra space between paragraphs in the main body of your paper.
● Font size: Fonts should be 12-point.
● Page numbers: All page numbers go in the top right corner of every page, starting on the title page, and include only the number (no headers or titles).
● Margin sizes: Use one-inch margin sizes on each side of each page.
● Page headers: These aren’t required for student papers and only need to be included in professional papers, which you likely aren’t writing while in an undergraduate program.
HOW TO APA FORMAT YOUR TITLE PAGE
The first thing anyone is going to read is your title page. A title page serves many practical purposes, including telling your professor whose paper they’re marking and what topic your paper is about. That’s very important if you want to get full marks!
Some styles, like MLA style, don’t require the use of a title page unless there are certain circumstances applied. However, with APA style, the title page is mandatory for all of your academic papers or essays. For more information on the differences between MLA and APA style papers, check out Episode 54 of the Homework Help Show where we go over each one.
An APA style title page includes the following information:
● The paper’s title
● Your first and last name
● The name of your school (institution)
● The course name
● Your instructor’s name
● The due date
● Page number
As for the structure of your title page, there are a few specific placement rules you need to follow. Your page number goes in the top right corner and consists of just the number (1). This is important to know because if you’ve learned how to APA format a paper in the past, you were likely taught to include a “running head” on the title page, followed by the essay title with each page number throughout the rest of the essay. The current edition of APA style, updated in 2020, no longer requires this for student papers unless your professor specifically asks for it.
After your page number, write your essay title. The title should be centred, bolded, and placed three or four lines below the top of the page. All of the major words should be capitalized. If you have a subtitle, you can place it on the next line below the main title following the same bolded, centred, and capitalized format.
Leave one full double-spaced line underneath your title or subtitle and place your full name. Your name should be centred, but not bolded – only your title is bolded. On the next line directly below your name, write your institution or affiliation (department) name, centred, followed by your course name centred on the next line. Your instructor or professor’s name goes centred on the next line below your course, and then the due date is centred on the next line after that.