APA Format

APA Format

The Simplest Guide for APA Format

So your teacher asks you to write a five page paper in APA format. Don’t know how? Simple. We will explain everything very simply so you understand. From the overall layout, to references, to citations!


APA (American Psychology Association) format is the most popular format for writing for the social sciences. AKA: Writing for your world history class or psychology. While its brethren, the MLA (Modern Language Association) format, is used for more literature based classes such as, English class. These formats are used to organize information and to ensure proper use of citing information is used. Ya know, because plagiarism is bad.

Overall Layout

I’m going to start off with the greatest tip to save you tons of time, get word 2013! They have an APA template you can easily use and just fill in the blanks! Google Docs has a version as well! Note: Word 2013 you have to pay for unless your computer came with it. Google Docs is free and online, you do not have to pay for either of the templates.

See link here for google docs.

Once in Google Docs, (you will have to create an account) hit more in the templates section (a dark grey area), then under education it will have the APA template you can just click on!

If you are confused from the template (it can be sometimes) then read on. I will explain the main format (does not include information like margin, line spacing, or font… this is automatic with the template).



-1 inch margins

-Times New Roman

-Double Spacing


So first, what is the Running head?

Basically, a shorter version of the title that appears in the header of the document. Leave the “Running head:” part on the cover page. The rest of the pages should just show the title. Make sure your title is in caps. Here is a sample picture of the cover page.

APA Cover Page


What is the abstract?

A 150 or more paragraph that explains the beginning, middle, and end of your paper. Think of a summary or a movie trailer that gives away the ending. Check with your teacher if they want this. Most of the time, if it is a short paper, it is unnecessary. This should be on the second page of your paper and should have keywords relating to your paper on the next line after your abstract, indented, and in italics. Here is a sample picture.



What about those weird sections?

Your paper should include sections. Depending on your type of paper, depends on how you format your sections. You should talk with your teacher to see if he/she has specific guidelines for headings. For instance, when writing for an experiment your sections your main sections should be centered before each paragraph on its own line, bolded, and in this order: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.


If you are not writing for an experiment, your headings should not follow what is above, but done in a way that best fits your paper. Here is an example of how your headings should look as well as the body of the paper.


Title Here (centered)

First Heading (centered)

     Indent, then write your first paragraph.

Second Heading.

Do not indent and put a period. Write your paragraph here.

Third Heading. This is how your third heading should look. A run on heading.Write your paragraph right after the heading.

Fourth Heading. Use italics, and write your fourth paragraph here.

Fifth Heading. Only use italics and make your final paragraph here.



The references page is easy when using Word. Just go to the references tab and hit manage sources. Add your new sources information that you are using (word does a good job walking you through the steps) and be sure to add your new source to your current list.

If you are not using the word template, you will have to add your references page manually. To do this (make sure you have clicked a blank page in your document at the end) go to the references tab, hit insert bibliography then, references. Note: in APA format call the bibliography page, or works cited, your references page.

After doing this your references page should appear on its own page at the end of your document. If you need to make changes to your references, you can do so by going to the manage sources button we talked about earlier. Then to update your references, hit the red button at the top left of the references box on your actual paper. Here’s a picture to help.


If you do not have Word, (which is the easiest way to make your references page) I recommend using bibme.org or easybib.org or another automatic reference maker. The way to cite a source is complicated and not needed to learn with the resources you have access to.



Citations are easy when you have Word involved! Just hit the references tab in Word and then hit insert citation. As the drop down menu appears, make sure you add a new source. There you can input the information from your reference (easy as pie) and BOOM! Citation entered!

Citations should be implemented whenever you use information from a source. For example, I am talking about what I learned about The High School Digest here and I can keep talking about it. I can start a new sentence about it and continue talking about it. But as soon as I finish talking about it, I have to make my citation at the end (last name of author, year published). Citation should be in parenthesis and the period should be after the citation.


I 100% recommend using Word as it will make your life so much simpler for writing papers. If you do not have Word at a home computer, be sure to visit your library at your school as they will for sure have it!


There you have the simplest guide to APA format! Be sure to talk with your teacher about any specifics they want on your paper, such as, not wanting the abstract, or wanting specific headings. Comment below or contact me if you have any questions so I can help!


-If it is okay with your teacher, put a piece of paper between the cover page (if you have one and the actual writing of the paper. This blocks the writing of the paper from the cover page so you can see the cover page clearly.

-If it is okay with your teacher, use Courier New font when writing a research paper that has to be a certain length. Courier New makes every character get the same length so your paper turns out to be much longer!

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