Guidelines on How Do You Write an Essay in APA Format

There are two preferred styles for documenting your sources in a research paper. Most papers are usually APA or MLA formatted. Each of them has very specific guidelines. The letters APA stand for American Psychological Association. Some of the APA writing and formatting guidelines are:

  • Formatting
  • Use regular 8.5 by 11 inch paper and have a one-inch margin on all sides of the paper including the top and the bottom of the paper. Use a basic font such as Arial and double-space the entire paper. The font should be size 12. Have a header on the left side at the top of the paper and then put the page number on the top right side of the paper.

  • Title Page
  • With the APA style, you will have a title page. On that page, put the running header, the title, your name and your school name (centered in the page).

  • An Abstract
  • Your APA style paper will have a brief summary that is called an abstract. The abstract should have about 200 words and it should be very general in summarizing the paper. Oddly enough, the abstract is usually written after the body of the paper is actually written.

  • Paper Body
  • Your instructor will tell you how many words and pages he or she wants the body of the paper to be. You should listen to those instructions carefully. It will include an introduction, a method section, a results part, and a discussion segment. Your body should have in text citations that include the author name and the year of the publication in parentheses. There are other in text rules which you should check as you write the paper.

  • References
  • The last part of the APA paper will be the reference page(s). Any work you cited in the paper should be included in the reference portion of the paper. The rules for writing the references are very detailed and specific. You may want to have a book on the rules or a website marked for you to reference as you write. If you can use a reference page generating tool, that would be best and easiest for you.

If you instructor assigns you an APA style paper, make sure you know and you follow all of the APA formatting and style rules. Use this guide to help you as you write your paper.


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