How to Write Better: Understanding the APA Research Paper Format


If you are asked to write an essay in APA format, it may cause a problem, especially when you have never used it or simply prefer using another style. So, before you start writing your essay in APA, you should get to know more information about this format. APA stands for the official publication style of the American Psychological Association. It is mainly used in social sciences, like pedagogics or psychology. Yet, other papers might also have to be written according to this format.

An APA essay as a rule includes such elements as a title page, an abstract, the main body and references:

Main Elements of APA Format:


  • The title page consists of a running head, title, author name and institution where the author works or studies. The running head is a shortened version of the full title of your essay. It helps the reader identify the titles for published articles.
  • The abstract presents a brief summary of your essay. It enables the reader to review the key points and the purpose of your writing.
  • The main body gives the basic information. It includes the essay itself.
  • In references you give a list of all sources you used in your essay or research.

Tips for Writing a Paper in APA Format:


  • The essay should be typed and double-spaced. The margins should be at least 1 inch each.
  • Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font. It is recommended.
  • The running head can’t be larger than 50 characters. Write it in capital letters. It must be situated in the top left and page numbers in the top right of the page. Remember that every page of your essay should have a running head and page numbers.
  • Write the title in the center of the page. Don’t make it bold, underlined or italicized.
  • The authors name and the institution should be centered and double-spaced.
  • Write an abstract not more than 250 words. If there are abbreviations or acronyms that are used in the essay, they should be defined directly in the abstract.
  • Indent all paragraphs except the abstract one.
  • Include the publication year, the author’s name and page numbers in text citations.
  • List references alphabetically by the last name of the author. Remember to begin your reference on a new page.
  • Don’t include any personal information.
  • Cite all your sources that are used in the text. Try to paraphrase as much as possible.

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