site header image

APA Style (7th ed.)

  • Cite: Why? When?
  • Book, eBook, Dissertation
  • Article or Report
  • Business Sources
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tools
  • In-Text Citation
  • Format Your Paper

Format Your Paper

Download and use the editable templates for student papers below: .

  • APA 7th ed. Template Document This is an APA format template document in Google Docs. Click on the link -- it will ask for you to make a new copy of the document, which you can save in your own Google Drive with your preferred privacy settings.
  • APA 7th ed. Template Document A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly according to APA 7th edition.
  • APA 7th ed. Annotated Bibliography template A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly for an annotated bibliography.

Or, view the directions for specific sections below:

Order of sections (section 2.17).

  • Title page including Title, Author, University and Department, Class, Instructor, and Date
  • Body (including introduction, literature review or background, discussion, and conclusion)
  • Appendices (including tables & figures)

Margins & Page Numbers (sections 2.22-2.24)

  • 1 inch at top, bottom, and both sides
  • Left aligned paragraphs and leave the right edge ragged (not "right justified")
  • Indent first line of each paragraph 1/2 inch from left margin
  • Use page numbers, including on the title page, 1/2 inch from top and flush with right margin

Text Format (section 2.19)

  • Times New Roman, 12 point
  • Calibri, 11 point
  • Arial, 11 point
  • Lucinda Sans Unicode, 10 point
  • Georgia, 11 point
  • Double-space and align text to the left
  • Use active voice
  • Don't overuse technical jargon
  • No periods after a web address or DOI in the References list.

Tables and Figures In-Text (chapter 7)

  • Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1)
  • Give each table column a heading and use separating lines only when necessary
  • Design the table and figure so that it can be understood on its own, i.e. it does not require reference to the surrounding text to understand it
  • Notes go below tables and figures

Title Page (section 2.3)

  • Include the title, your name,  the class name , and  the college's name
  • Title should be 12 words or less and summarize the paper's main idea
  • No periods or abbreviations
  • Do not italicize or underline
  • No quotation marks, all capital letters, or bold
  • Center horizontally in upper half of the page

Body (section 2.11)

  • Align the text to the left with a 1/2-inch left indent on the first line
  • Double-space
  • As long as there is no Abstract, at the top of the first page, type the title of the paper, centered, in bold , and in Sentence Case Capitalization
  • Usually, include sections like these:  introduction, literature review or background,  discussion, and conclusion -- but the specific organization will depend on the paper type
  • Spell out long organization names and add the abbreviation in parenthesis, then just use the abbreviation
  • Spell out numbers one through nine and use a number for 10 or more
  • Use a number for units of measurement, in tables, to represent statistical or math functions, and dates or times

Headings (section 2.26-2.27)

  • Level 1: Center, bold , Title Case 
  • Level 2: Align left, bold , Title Case
  • Level 3: Alight left, bold italics , Title Case
  • Level 4: Indented 1/2", bold , Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text. 
  • Level 5: Indented 1/2", bold italics , Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text. 

an illustration of the headings -- same detail as is given directly above this image

Quotations (sections 8.26-8.33)

  • Include short quotations (40 words or less) in-text with quotation marks
  • For quotes more than 40 words, indent the entire quote a half inch from the left margin and double-space it with no quotation marks
  • When quoting two or more paragraphs from an original source, indent the first line of each paragraph a half inch from the left margin
  • Use ellipsis (...) when omitting sections from a quote and use four periods (....) if omitting the end section of a quote

References (section 2.12)

Begins on a new page following the text of your paper and includes complete citations for the resources you've used in your writing.

  • References should be centered and bolded at the top of a new page
  • Double-space and use hanging indents (where the first line is on the left margin and the following lines are indented a half inch from the left)
  • List authors' last name first followed by the first and middle initials (ex. Skinner, B. F.)
  • Alphabetize the list by the first author's last name of of each citation (see sections 9.44-9.49)
  • Capitalize only the first word, the first after a colon or em dash, and proper nouns
  • Don't capitalize the second word of a hyphenated compound
  • No quotation marks around titles of articles

Appendices with Tables, Figures, & Illustrations (section 2.14, and chapter 7)

  • Include appendices only to help the reader understand, evaluate, or replicate the study or argument
  • Put each appendix on a separate page and align left
  • For text, do not indent the first paragraph, but do indent the rest
  • If you have only one appendix, label it "Appendix"
  • If you have two or more appendices, label them "Appendix A", "Appendix B" and so forth as they appear in the body of your paper
  • Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1, or Table B1 and Table B2 if Appendix B has two tables) and describe them within the text of the appendix
  • Notes go below tables and figures (see samples on p. 210-226)

Annotated Bibliography

Double-space the entire bibliography. give each entry a hanging indent. in the following annotation, indent the entire paragraph a half inch from the left margin and give the first line of each paragraph a half inch indent. see the template document at the top of this page..

  • Check with your professor for the length of the annotation and which elements you should evaluate.

These elements are optional, if your professor or field requires them, but they are  not required for student papers: 

Abstract (section 2.9).

  • Abstract gets its own page
  • Center "Abstract" heading and do not indent the first line of the text
  • Summarize the main points and purpose of the paper in 150-250 words maximum
  • Define abbreviations and acronyms used in the paper

Running Head (section 2.8 )

  • Shorten title to 50 characters or less (counting spaces and punctuation) for the running head
  • In the top margin, the running head is aligned left, with the page number aligned on the right
  • On every page, put (without the brackets): [SHORTENED TITLE OF YOUR PAPER IN ALL CAPS] [page number] 

More questions? Check out the authoritative source: APA style blog

  • << Previous: In-Text Citation
  • Last Updated: May 8, 2024 9:17 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.uww.edu/apa

APA Style 7th Edition: Citing Your Sources

Apa 7th edition, what is the purpose, quick links.

  • In Text Quick View
  • Block Quotes
  • Books & eBooks
  • Thesis/Dissertation
  • Audiovisual
  • Conference Presentations
  • Social Media
  • Legal References
  • Reports and Gray Literature
  • Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
  • Additional Resources
  • Reference Page

APA Publications in the Library

Cover Art

This guide pertains to the 7th edition of the APA Manual.

This guide is designed to support the citation and reference needs of USC students, staff, and faculty.  The 7th edition of the manual does make distinctions between formatting certain components for academic use over publication.  This guide will distinguish student/academic formatting where applicable. 

This guide is designed as a "quick" reference to common APA citation, reference and formatting criteria.  When in doubt, we encourage users to consult with the APA publication manual or APA website for further clarification as the authority on formatting.

Attribution for guide: Adapted from American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed).  https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

What is the purpose of citations?

Citations help readers locate your sources. They help to continue the scholarly conversation. To learn more about how citations can help you avoid plagiarism, view this interactive tutorial: 

USC Library Lessons: Avoiding Plagiarism through Citations

When considering citations and references for your papers, you can ask yourself, "could someone find this information in the future?"

A client's personal file would not need a citation because your reader cannot go find that information again.  Census statistics would require a citation because your reader could go locate that information again.

APA requires FOUR ELEMENTS of every citation:

  • Who- Author of content
  • When- Date content was published
  • What- Title of content
  • Where- Publication information. This can be the website you got it from or the journal or book's publication information.

If any of the elements listed above are unavailable, check out "Missing Reference Information" from APA for more information.

USC login required

  • APA Style Website As part of our Style and Grammar Guidelines, we explain the basics of paper format, grammar, punctuation, in-text citations, references, bias-free language, and more. Much of what you used to find on the sixth edition blog, you can now find on the APA Style website.
  • Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper by Robert V. Labaree Last Updated May 6, 2024 623241 views this year
  • Owl Purdue 7th Edition Style Guide and Formatting Writing guide from Owl Purdue covering the 7th edition of the APA Manual
  • Quick Reference Guide Quick guide on how to identify components to configure a reference for Journal article, book, and chapter from an edited book.
  • Annotated Sample Student Paper Sample student paper with formatting annotations.
  • Sample student paper
  • Annotated Sample Professional Paper Sample professional paper with formatting annotations
  • Sample professional paper
  • USC Libraries APA Style Quick Guide
  • Next: In Text Citations >>
  • Last Updated: Apr 22, 2024 9:37 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.usc.edu/APA7th
  • All eBooks & Audiobooks
  • Academic eBook Collection
  • Home Grown eBook Collection
  • Off-Campus Access
  • Literature Resource Center
  • Opposing Viewpoints
  • ProQuest Central
  • Course Guides
  • Citing Sources
  • Library Research
  • Websites by Topic
  • Book-a-Librarian
  • Research Tutorials
  • Use the Catalog
  • Use Databases
  • Use Films on Demand
  • Use Home Grown eBooks
  • Use NC LIVE
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary vs. Secondary
  • Scholarly vs. Popular
  • Make an Appointment
  • Writing Tools
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • Summaries, Reviews & Critiques
  • Writing Center

Service Alert

logo

APA Style, 7th edition

  • What is APA?
  • APA Style Citation Guide
  • Formatting Your Paper
  • Reference List

Text: 336-308-8801

Email: [email protected]

Call: 336-633-0204

Schedule: Book-a-Librarian

Like us on Facebook

Links on this guide may go to external web sites not connected with Randolph Community College. Their inclusion is not an endorsement by Randolph Community College and the College is not responsible for the accuracy of their content or the security of their site.

APA Style Formatting Steps

Setting up page numbering for apa.

1. Set font as Times New Roman and size 12.

2. Click on Insert.

3. Click on Page Number.

4. Click on Top of Page.

5. Click on Plain Number 3 box.

6. Finish cover page (see pages 11 and 12 of the APA guide).

7. Go to second page.

8. Type your title in bold at the top and centered.

9. Close Header/Footer box.

  • APA Style Citations Video [PDF] Video Transcript

Sample Paper

  • Purdue OWL: APA Sample Paper [PDF] An example of a correctly formatted APA style research paper. From Purdue University Online Writing Center (OWL).
  • << Previous: APA Style Citation Guide
  • Next: Reference List >>
  • Last Updated: Feb 8, 2024 11:39 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.randolph.edu/apa

APA Citation Style

  • Citation Examples
  • Paper Format
  • Style and Grammar Guidelines
  • Citation Management Tools
  • What's New in the 7th Edition?
  • Order of Pages
  • Title Page Setup
  • Page Header
  • Line Spacing
  • Paragraph Alignment & Indentation
  • Sample Papers
  • Accessibility

Consistency in the order, structure, and format of a paper allows readers to focus on a paper’s content rather than its presentation.

To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments. 

The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create another kind of work (e.g., a website, conference poster, or PowerPoint presentation), you may need to format your work differently in order to optimize its presentation, for example, by using different line spacing and font sizes. Follow the guidelines of your institution or publisher to adapt APA Style formatting guidelines as needed.

Paper format is covered in Chapter 2 of  APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

**All information taken from:  https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/paper-format

Order of pages is covered in Section 2.17 of the  APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

All papers, including student papers, generally include a title page, text, and references. They may include additional elements such as tables and figures depending on the assignment. Student papers generally do not include an abstract unless requested. 

Arrange the pages of an APA Style paper in the following order: 

In general, start each section on a new page. However, the order of pages is flexible in the following cases:

  • tables and figures:  Embed tables and figures within the text after they are first mentioned (or “called out”), or place each table and then each figure on separate pages after the references. If an embedded table or figure appears on the same page as text, place it at either the top or the bottom of the page, and insert a blank double-spaced line to separate the table or figure from the adjacent text.
  • footnotes: Use the footnotes function of your word-processing program to insert a footnote at the bottom of the page of text on which the footnote appears, or list footnotes together on a separate page after the references.;

Papers such as  dissertations and theses  may require additional elements not listed here. Follow the institutional or departmental guidelines of your university to order the pages of a dissertation or thesis.

A title page is required for all APA Style papers. There are both student and professional versions of the title page. Students should use the student version of the title page unless their instructor or institution has requested they use the professional version. APA provides a  student title page guide (PDF, 199KB)  to assist students in creating their title pages.

Student Title Page

The student title page includes the paper title, author names (the byline), author affiliation, course number and name for which the paper is being submitted, instructor name, assignment due date, and page number, as shown in the following example.

diagram of a student page

Student papers do not include a running head unless requested by the instructor or institution.

Follow the guidelines described next to format each element of the student title page.

Professional Title Page

The professional title page includes the paper title, author names (the byline), author affiliation(s), author note, running head, and page number, as shown in the following example.

diagram of a professional title page

Follow the guidelines described next to format each element of the professional title page.

A variety of fonts are permitted in APA Style papers. Font options include the following:

  • sans serif fonts such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode
  • serif fonts such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or normal (10-point) Computer Modern (the default font for LaTeX)

We recommend these fonts because they are legible and widely available and because they include special characters such as math symbols and Greek letters. Historically, sans serif fonts have been preferred for online works and serif fonts for print works; however, modern screen resolutions can typically accommodate either type of font, and people who use assistive technologies can adjust font settings to their preferences. For more on how font relates to accessibility, visit the page on  the accessibility of APA Style .

Use the same font throughout your paper, with the following exceptions:

  • figures: Within figure images, use a sans serif font with a type size between 8 and 14 points.
  • computer code: To present computer code, use a monospace font such as 10-point Lucida Console or 10-point Courier New.
  • footnotes: When inserting footnotes with the footnotes function of your word-processing program, use the default font settings. The footnote font might be smaller than the text font (and have different line spacing), and it is not necessary to change it.

Instructors and publishers vary in how they specify length requirements. Different fonts take up different amounts of space on the page; thus, we recommend using word count rather than page count to gauge paper length if possible.

The page header appears within the top margin of every page of the paper.

  • For student papers, the page header consists of the page number only.
  • For professional papers, the page header consists of the page number and running head.

Page headers are covered in Section 2.18 of the  APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

Page Numbers

Follow these guidelines to include page numbers in both student and professional APA Style papers:

  • Use the page-numbering function of your word-processing program to insert page numbers.
  • Insert page numbers in the top right corner. The page number should show on all pages.
  • The title page carries page number 1.

Running Head

The running head is an abbreviated version of the title of your paper (or the full title if the title is already short). The running head is not required for student papers unless the instructor or institution requests it. Thus, typically only professional papers include a running head.

Follow these guidelines to include a running head in an APA Style paper:

  • Type the running head in all-capital letters.
  • Ensure the running head is no more than 50 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
  • Avoid using abbreviations in the running head; however, the ampersand symbol (&) may be used rather than “and” if desired.
  • The running head appears in the same format on every page, including the first page.
  • Do not use the label “Running head:” before the running head.
  • Align the running head to the left margin of the page header, across from the right-aligned page number.

View the  sample papers  to see how the running head and page number appear in APA Style papers.

In general, double-space all parts of an APA Style paper, including the abstract; text; block quotations; table and figure numbers, titles, and notes; and reference list (including between and within entries). Do not add extra space before or after paragraphs.

Exceptions to double line spacing are as follows:

  • title page: Insert a double-spaced blank line between the title and the byline  on the title page . For professional papers, also include at least one double-spaced blank line above the author note (student papers do not include author notes). Double-space the rest of the title page.
  • tables: The  table body  (cells) may be single-spaced, one-and-a-half-spaced, or double-spaced, depending on which is the most effective layout for the information. Double-space the table number, title, and notes.
  • figures: Words within the  image part of a figure  may be single-spaced, one-and-a-half-spaced, or double-spaced, depending on which is the most effective layout for the information. Double-space the figure number, title, and notes.
  • footnotes: When inserting footnotes with the footnotes function of your word-processing program, use the default font settings (usually single-spaced and a slightly smaller font than the text).
  • displayed equations: It is permissible to apply triple- or quadruple-spacing in special circumstances, such as before and after a displayed equation.

These guidelines apply to APA Style student papers and to manuscripts being submitted for publication. If you are using APA Style in another context (e.g., on a website or in a formal publication), different line spacing and other formatting specifications may be appropriate.

Use 1-in. margins on every side of the page for an APA Style paper.

However, if you are writing a  dissertation or thesis , your advisor or institution may specify different margins (e.g., a 1.5-in. left margin to accommodate binding).

APA Style includes guidelines for paragraph alignment and indentation to ensure that papers are formatted in a consistent and readable manner. All writers should follow these guidelines.

Paragraph Alignment

Align the text of an APA Style paper to the left margin. Leave the right margin uneven, or “ragged.” Do not use full justification for student papers or manuscripts being submitted for publication.

Do not insert hyphens (manual breaks) in words at the end of line. However, it is acceptable if your word-processing program automatically inserts breaks in long hyperlinks (such as in a DOI or URL in a  reference list entry .

Paragraph Indentation

Indent the first line of each paragraph of text 0.5 in. from the left margin. Use the tab key or the automatic paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program to achieve the indentation (the default setting is likely already 0.5 in.). Do not use the space bar to create indentation.

Exceptions to these paragraph-formatting requirements are as follows:

  • title page: For professional papers, the title (in bold), byline, and affiliations should be centered on the  title page . For student papers, the title (in bold), byline, affiliations, course number and name, instructor, and assignment due date should be centered on the  title page .
  • section labels: Section labels (e.g., “Abstract,” “References”) should be centered (and bold).
  • abstract: The first line of the abstract should be flush left (not indented).
  • block quotations: Indent a whole  block quotation  0.5 in. from the left margin. If the block quotation spans more than one paragraph, the first line of the second and any subsequent paragraphs of the block quotation should be indented another 0.5 in., such that those first lines are indented a total of 1 in.
  • headings: Level 1  headings  should be centered (and in bold), and Level 2 and 3 headings should be left-aligned (and in bold or bold italic, respectively). Level 4 and 5 headings are indented like regular paragraphs.
  • tables and figures:  Table  and  figure  numbers (in bold), titles (in italics), and notes should be flush left.
  • reference list: Reference list entries should have a hanging indent of 0.5 in.
  • appendices: Appendix labels and titles should be centered (and bold).

Headings identify the content within sections of a paper.

Make your headings descriptive and concise. Headings that are well formatted and clearly worded aid both visual and nonvisual readers of all abilities.

Levels of Heading

There are five levels of heading in APA Style. Level 1 is the highest or main level of heading, Level 2 is a subheading of Level 1, Level 3 is a subheading of Level 2, and so on through Levels 4 and 5.

The number of headings to use in a paper depends on the length and complexity of the work.

  • If only one level of heading is needed, use Level 1.
  • If two levels of heading are needed, use Levels 1 and 2.
  • If three levels of heading are needed, use Levels 1, 2, and 3 (and so on).

Use only the number of headings necessary to differentiate distinct sections in your paper; short student papers may not require any headings. Furthermore, avoid these common errors related to headings:

  • Avoid having only one subsection heading within a section, just like in an outline.
  • Do not label headings with numbers or letters.
  • Double-space headings; do not switch to single spacing within headings.
  • Do not add blank lines above or below headings, even if a heading falls at the end of a page.

Format of Headings

The following table demonstrates how to format headings in APA Style.

Note.  In  title case , most words are capitalized.

Headings in the Introduction

Because the first paragraphs of a paper are understood to be introductory, the heading “Introduction” is not needed. Do not begin a paper with an “Introduction” heading; the paper title at the top of the first page of text acts as a de facto Level 1 heading.

It is possible (but not required) to use headings within the introduction. For subsections within the introduction, use Level 2 headings for the first level of subsection, Level 3 for subsections of any Level 2 headings, and so on. After the introduction (regardless of whether it includes headings), use a Level 1 heading for the next main section of the paper (e.g., Method).

Creating Accessible Headings

Writers who use APA Style may use the automatic headings function of their word-processing program to create headings. This not only simplifies the task of formatting headings but also ensures that headings are coded appropriately in any electronic version of the paper, which aids readers who use navigation tools and assistive technologies such as screen readers. 

Here are some tips on how to create headings in some common word-processing programs:

  • If you use  Academic Writer  to write your APA Style papers, the headings menu in the Writing Center will format headings for you in 7th edition APA Style.
  • Follow  these headings directions from Microsoft  to customize the heading formats for your future use.
  • To apply Level 4 and 5 headings (which are inline headings, meaning the heading appears on the same line as paragraph text), first type the heading and a few words of the text that follows. Then highlight the text that you want to be your heading and select the appropriate heading level from the Styles menu. Only the highlighted text will be formatted as the Level 4 or 5 heading

This page contains several sample papers formatted in seventh edition APA Style.

The following two sample papers were published in annotated format in the Publication Manual and are provided here for your ease of reference. The annotations draw attention to relevant content and formatting and provide users with the relevant sections of the Publication Manual (7th ed.) to consult for more information.

  • Annotated Student Sample Paper (PDF, 2MB)
  • Annotated Professional Sample Paper (PDF, 3MB)

We also offer these sample papers in Microsoft Word (.docx) file format without the annotations.

  • Student Sample Paper (DOCX, 38KB )
  • Professional Sample Paper (DOCX, 96KB)

Sample Papers in Real Life

Although published articles differ in format from manuscripts submitted for publication or student papers (e.g., different line spacing, font, margins, and column format), articles published in APA journals provide excellent demonstrations of APA Style in action.

APA journals  will begin publishing papers in seventh edition APA Style in 2020. The transition to seventh edition style will occur over time and on a journal-by-journal basis until all APA journals use the new style. Professional authors should check the author submission guidelines for the journal to which they want to submit their paper to determine the appropriate style to follow.

The APA Style team worked with accessibility experts at  David Berman Communications  to ensure that APA Style guidelines as presented in the Publication Manual (7th ed.) are compliant with  Web Content and Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA standards . 

Accessible Typography

Here we are going to look at some myths and facts about accessible and usable typography as relevant to APA Style. The main takeaway is this: There do not have to be trade-offs—you can have great, expressive, nuanced typography that also meets or exceeds all regulatory and functional accessibility requirements. To paraphrase David Berman, when we style for the extremes and we do it well, everyone benefits.

Myth 1: Serif Fonts Are Not Accessible

It is a common misconception that serif fonts (e.g., Times New Roman) should be avoided because they are hard to read and that sans serif fonts (e.g., Calibri or Arial) are preferred. Historically, sans serif fonts have been preferred for online works and serif fonts for print works; however, modern screen resolutions can typically accommodate either type of font, and people who use assistive technologies can adjust font settings to their preferences.

Research supports the use of various fonts for different contexts. For example, there are studies that demonstrate how serif fonts are actually superior to sans serif in many long texts (Arditi & Cho, 2005; Tinker, 1963). And there are studies that support sans serif typefaces as superior for people living with certain disabilities (such as certain visual challenges and those who learn differently; Russell-Minda et al., 2007).

However, a skilled designer can create an accessible document that uses serif typefaces effectively, and if structured according to best practice standards, that same document can have its machine text presented in other ways for particular users. For example, a person living with severe dyslexia could choose to have the font swapped in real time with a typeface and spacing that works better for them—thus, there are no trade-offs for the typical user, and the typographic tone of voice that the designer intended for the message is retained. 

Furthermore, typeface selection is only one part of the typographic solution for creating accessible typography. Designers must also make wise choices about other factors including size, color, justification, letter spacing, word spacing, line spacing, character thickness, screen resolution, print readiness, and other audience and media issues. 

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) set standards for online accessibility. WCAG 2.0 Level AA does not set any rules about typeface or type size. It does not specify which typefaces are better than others. There are effective and ineffective serif fonts, just as there are effective and ineffective sans serif fonts. If everyone were to strictly follow the  Canadian National Institute for the Blind  (CNIB) and the  American Council of the Blind  (ACB) guidelines for typography, all text would be in 12-point Arial black. Fortunately, you have the flexibility to choose from a variety of font types and identify which will best suit your work.

Furthermore, depending on your organization, there may be additional standards you have to follow to be in alignment with brand guidelines. And depending upon your jurisdiction, there may be additional regulations you need to follow (e.g., the European Union’s EN 301 549 calls for compliance with WCAG 2.1 Level AA, which includes specifics regarding line and character spacing).

Thus, a variety of  typeface choices  are permitted in APA Style. Also check with your publisher, instructor, or institution for any requirements regarding fonts. We recommend particular fonts in the Publication Manual because they are legible and widely available and because they include special characters such as math symbols and Greek letters. Other fonts can be used with APA Style provided that they also meet these criteria. Thus, users should be able to find a typographic solution that meets their needs.

Myth 2: All Caps Are Not Accessible

Many people have heard that is never accessible to present wording as all-capital lettering; however, this is another myth. Fear not! You can in fact use all caps in an accessible way. 

It is true that presenting text in all caps will slow down all readers, especially those with certain types of visual and/or cognitive impairments. However, making sure you do not break the accessibility of wording by putting it in all caps is actually all about doing something no person reading it will see. Here’s how: Always type words with appropriate capitalization (capitals for the beginning of a sentence and proper nouns, etc., lowercase for other words). Then apply a style or text effect to create the appearance of all caps. Screen-reading devices will then announce the words correctly (as opposed to, e.g., trying to treat them as an initialism or acronym and reading out each word letter by letter). Other assistive technologies or conversions will also work correctly because they have the option to override your style to remove the all-caps style or effect. This puts the power exactly where we want it—in the hands of readers.

In APA Style papers, the running head is the only part of the paper that is written in all-capital letters. The running head appears only in professional papers. If the authors’ manuscript will appear online (e.g., as a preprint in PsyArXiv), authors should use a style or text effect as described here to format the running head in all caps. 

Myth 3: Smart Quotes Are Not Needed

Using inch marks and foot marks (sometimes also called “straight quotes”) instead of proper left and right quotation marks (both double and single, including apostrophes) makes it harder for assistive technologies to understand your content. Imagine a screen reader announcing “inch” or “foot” rather than announcing the beginning or ending of a quotation.

Everyone deserves proper punctuation. So, in your word-processing program, turn on the option for “smart quotes” to help ensure that you are using the proper mark. 

The following examples show the visual difference between straight quotes and proper left and right quotation marks, or smart quotes.

"Straight quotes" “Smart quotes”

⁠Headings  in a document identify the topic or purpose of the content within each section. Headings help all readers become familiar with how a document’s hierarchy is structured and how the content is organized, helping them easily find the information they seek. Headings that are formatted and worded well aid both visual and nonvisual readers of all abilities. Headings must be clearly distinguishable from body text.

How can one then create and use excellent headings (and related body text) for all users, including those using assistive technologies? Read on. 

Purpose of Headings

The functional purpose of headings is to identify the topic of the content within each section. Treat your headings as if they are “landmarks” within the text, guiding readers to their desired destination. Headings allow readers searching for particular information to find it easily; readers looking to understand the scope of a work are able to do so at a glance. 

Also, it is impossible to talk about presenting a truly great heading structure without crossing over into the wording within the headings. Headings should never contain content that is not within the text in the section described by the heading. In other words, if your heading is “How Many Designers Does It Take to Screw in a Lightbulb?” the text in that section must discuss designers and lightbulbs. In academic research papers, standard headings are often used, such as Method, Results, and Discussion. Standard headings allow readers to understand the structure and content of the research being reported. It is best practice to keep headings to 60 characters or less, and 80 at most. This is especially helpful to nonvisual users who could, for example, be using a dynamic Braille display that only presents 80 characters at a time.

When appropriate, headings can, accessibly, include intriguing wording intended to capture readers’ attention, as long as there is also a part of the heading that reveals what is actually present. Just like a book title can include both an intriguing phrase as well as an explanatory phrase (e.g., “Frustration Exemplified: How To Give a Cat a Pill”), you could do the same in a heading. However, context is important: For a “do it yourself” book, this might engage readers and enhance their reading pleasure. For a medical textbook, this might be distracting and even frustrating for readers trying to look up specific information. 

In longer works (e.g., dissertations and theses, books), headings appear in a table of contents. The purpose of the table of contents is to give readers an overview of the entire contents of the text as well as to make them familiar with how the content is organized in sections and subsections. Especially for reference works, this is a vital part of the reader interaction. The table of contents, in essence, is a collection of the headings within the text. Readers use visual style and content to understand the importance of the heading (the hierarchy) and the topic or purpose of the content in the section labeled by the heading. Thus, if you have excellent headings (both in content and in visual style), you will generate an excellent table of contents. For electronic documents, excellent headings will help you generate an excellent navigational structure as well. 

The Publication Manual does not set standards for tables of contents because journal articles and student papers do not contain tables of contents. For works that include a table of contents, such as dissertations and theses, APA recommends that you use the automatic table of contents function of your word-processing program to create the table of contents. Any of the automatic formats are acceptable. Typically the three highest levels of heading within each chapter or section are included in the table of contents; however, this can vary depending on the length and complexity of the work.

Are You Required to Use Heading Styles in Your Work? 

Writers should use heading styles to format and electronically tag headings to help their audience of readers navigate and understand their work. Heading styles also help students create consistently formatted headings.

However, in some cases, using heading styles (vs. manually formatting body text to look like a heading) is optional. The most common case in which it is optional to use heading styles to format text is when authors are submitting a manuscript for publication. Regardless of whether the authors use heading styles in their manuscript, the typesetter will strip the work of all heading styles and implement the headings styles of the publisher. Thus, it is not required for authors to use headings styles in draft manuscripts, but they can if desired. For example, during review, heading styles may help editors and reviewers navigate the work, especially a longer work. 

Likewise, students are not required to use heading styles to format their headings, but they can if desired. For example, if students submit a course assignment on paper, it will not matter whether they used heading styles or manual formatting to create the look of headings. However, if students submit an assignment electronically, it may be helpful to use heading styles to facilitate the instructor’s navigation of their work. 

If writers are self-publishing their work online, it is helpful to use heading styles to assist readers in navigating the work. For further advice on how to use heading styles, particularly when publishing your work online, read  more about accessible typography and style at David Berman Communications .

Inclusion of URLs in Reference Lists

WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines recommend that  URLs in online works have descriptive text . For example, in the preceding sentence, the words “URLs in online works have descriptive text” are linked to the page at  https://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/navigation-mechanisms-refs.html .

However, APA Style references include links with anchor text that is simply the destination DOI or URL (vs. anchor text that is natural, descriptive language)—does this mean that APA Style references are not accessible?

APA Style References Meet Accessibility Standards

To answer this question, the APA Style team consulted with accessibility experts at David Berman Communications to develop our strategy for seventh edition references. Although we considered creating references that included descriptive text links (e.g., linking the title of the work), we settled on the current approach for a few reasons:

  • A reference list is not meant to be read from start to finish but rather consulted as needed if readers want more information on works cited in the text. Thus any reader—including a person using a screen reader—would not be expected to follow every link in a reference list. Even if the links in the reference list were beneath descriptive text, the list of links in the reference list would not be particularly helpful on its own because those links need the context of the in-text citation for readers to understand why the links are relevant.
  • APA Style governs how manuscripts meant for publication and student papers are prepared. These papers might be read either in print or online. Thus, it is helpful to preserve the actual link address to account for the case in which the work is printed. This approach also produces one set of general guidelines rather than multiple sets, which simplifies writers’ task of understanding and implementing the APA Style reference system.

Because reference lists are not meant to be read from start to finish and because works in APA Style may be published either online or in print, our guidelines recommend that links show the DOI or URL of the work rather than be beneath descriptive text. Links in the text (which are relatively rare—they are only used for general mentions of websites) are treated in the same way; the URL should immediately follow the name of the page being linked to. To reduce the length of links,  shortDOIs and shortened URLs  are also acceptable.

Using Descriptive Links in APA Style

Although the Publication Manual addresses how to use APA Style for journal publication and student papers, APA Style is used in other contexts as well. Users who develop online-only resources should adapt APA Style to fit their needs. This adaption includes, but is not limited to, the use of descriptive links throughout texts and reference lists.

For example, on this very webpage and throughout the APA Style website, all links appear beneath descriptive text. Other users of APA Style in online contexts should follow this practice as well.

Likewise, in references, people creating online works in APA Style can put the DOI or URL beneath descriptive text. Some reference databases put DOIs or URLs beneath buttons labeled “Article.” Another approach is to link the title of the work to the work’s URL or DOI, as in the following examples.

American Psychological Association. (2019).  Talking with your children about stress .

Warne, R. T., Astle, M. C., & Hill, J. C. (2018).  What do undergraduates learn about human intelligence? An analysis of introductory psychology textbooks . Archives of Scientific Psychology, 6(1), 32–50.

Accessible Use of Color in Figures

The use of color also presents accessibility concerns. In APA Style, color is most commonly used within figures. It is important that color figures have adequate color contrast to allow users living with color-vision deficiencies (also called “color blindness”) to understand the material. For a thorough description of the accessible use of color, please visit the  page on the accessible use of color in figures .

  • << Previous: Citation Examples
  • Next: Style and Grammar Guidelines >>
  • Last Updated: Jan 24, 2024 12:02 PM
  • URL: https://guides.lib.udel.edu/apa

How To Do In-Text Citations with Multiple Authors in APA Format

research paper apa guidelines

APA (or American Psychological Association) Style   was introduced in 1929 to establish a consistent style guide for scientific writing. It sought to make scientific works easier to read and understand. However, the style guidelines have expanded to include many disciplines, such as the humanities and health care.

The APA’s Publication Manual does not cover the general writing style rules in other editorial style guides, such as the MLA Handbook . APA Style seeks to create uniformity of common writing styles relevant to behavior and social sciences primarily.

Consistent formatting allows the reader to engage with the presented ideas rather than be distracted by the author’s personal formatting preferences. It also helps readers quickly review the document for references and sources to aid their research. Using APA Style keeps authors transparent by providing rules about citing their sources and giving credit for others’ ideas.

How to do in-text citations in APA

  • Understanding “et. al.” usage in APA

Citing multiple authors in APA

  • In-text citations for various author types in APA

Best practices and common mistakes

APA Style allows writers to credit and cite other works appropriately and avoid plagiarism through in-text citations. APA Style uses the author–date citation system, which requires notations to be included within the document to reference ideas, paraphrases and quotations from other bodies of work. Each in-text citation within the paper (or chart, footnote or figure) briefly identifies the cited work and guides the reader to a longer list of cited sources at the end of the document, called the reference list.

In-text citations can be written within a paper parenthetically or narratively. Both include the same information: the author’s last name and the publication date.

  • Parenthetical citation : Great falls can be caused by sitting on tall walls (Dumpty, 1797).
  • Narrative citation : Dumpty (1797) claims that great falls can be caused by sitting on tall walls.
  • Reference list entry: Dumpty, Humpty (1797). Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall. Nursery Rhymes, 100.

APA Style requires citations to conform to a set of guidelines , which includes proper spelling of author names, consistency between the in-text citation information and its reference list entry and rules about crediting all facts and figures mentioned – especially those which are not common knowledge.

Understanding “et al.” usage in APA

Et al. is an abbreviation used to indicate multiple people. It’s the abbreviated version of “et alia,” a neutral plural version of “and others.” Most commonly, et al. indicates more than one contributor, such as multiple authors or editors, in a work.

In APA Style citations, et al. is used to indicate a cited work with three or more authors and serves as a way to condense the in-text citation to avoid confusion and unnecessary length. An APA in-text citation with three or more authors will include only the first author’s name plus “et al.” in every citation.

Citing multiple authors in APA Style is similar to MLA Style . For one or two authors, list the last name(s) followed by the year of publication. 

  • One author: (Beyonce, 1997)
  • Contributors: Daryl Hall and John Oates

To cite three or more authors using APA Style, use only the first author’s last name listed, plus “et al.” 

  • Contributors: Earth, Wind and Fire

When two separate sources have the same abbreviated et al. form , spell out as many last names as needed to distinguish the sources from each other. It may include two last names followed by et al.

Similarly, when the first authors of separate sources share the same last name but have different initials, use their first initials in the in-text citations.

  • Beyonce Knowles & Solange Knowles

In-text citation for various author types in APA

You may face a challenging situation where you must cite a group author , such as an institution or university, rather than a list of authors’ names. In this instance, you’ll list the group or organization.

  • Group author: (Furman University, 2020)

If the group also has an abbreviation to its name, you may note the first and subsequent citations differently to be as concise as possible.

  • Group author with abbreviation – 1st citation: (American Psychological Association [APA], 2024)
  • Group author with abbreviation – 2nd citation : (APA, 2024)

The most common mistake when citing sources is forgetting to cite a source. One way to ensure you include all required sources is to document and manage your sources as you use their ideas within the document. This may mean you create the citations as you conduct your research, create your outline or type the final paper.

Some applications exist to help you manage and document citations, including EasyBib , Mendeley , EndNote and Zotero . Depending on your writing style, these applications can help you create citations, save your research sources, annotate documents and format references. 

Regarding best practices for in-text citations in APA Style, it’s good practice to proofread your citations and reference list together. When citing multiple authors, ensure all spellings are accurate and consistent throughout the document and reference list. Refer to the APA Style Publication Manual and other guideline reference documents to confirm your citing within the latest citation guidelines.

Giving credit to other authors who have shaped your research and ideas is incredibly important. You can do so without risking plagiarism accusations through in-text citations that are marked and referenced. Not only does it provide you with an honest and accurate reputation, but it also helps your readers gain more valuable knowledge from other sources.

Citing sources should not discourage you from sharing your knowledge within academic writing. Sooner or later, you’ll become a pro at in-text citations in APA style! The more you write, the more familiar you’ll become with the guidelines; you’ll no longer need to reference the style guides for help.

The perspectives and thoughts shared in the Furman Blog belong solely to the author and may not align with the official stance or policies of Furman University. All referenced sources were accurate as of the date of publication.

What Can You Do with a Political Science Degree?

How to do in-text citations in mla format: a quick guide for students, how to become a therapist.

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist with many writing projects. Teachers and trainers may use this material for in-class and out-of-class instruction.

The Purdue On-Campus Writing Lab and Purdue Online Writing Lab assist clients in their development as writers—no matter what their skill level—with on-campus consultations, online participation, and community engagement. The Purdue Writing Lab serves the Purdue, West Lafayette, campus and coordinates with local literacy initiatives. The Purdue OWL offers global support through online reference materials and services.

A Message From the Assistant Director of Content Development 

The Purdue OWL® is committed to supporting  students, instructors, and writers by offering a wide range of resources that are developed and revised with them in mind. To do this, the OWL team is always exploring possibilties for a better design, allowing accessibility and user experience to guide our process. As the OWL undergoes some changes, we welcome your feedback and suggestions by email at any time.

Please don't hesitate to contact us via our contact page  if you have any questions or comments.

All the best,

Social Media

Facebook twitter.

IMAGES

  1. APA Format Guidelines for an A+ Paper

    research paper apa guidelines

  2. APA Publication Manual 7th Edition Highlights

    research paper apa guidelines

  3. Paper Format

    research paper apa guidelines

  4. How to Write a Research Paper in APA Format

    research paper apa guidelines

  5. APA Style Manuscript Guidelines

    research paper apa guidelines

  6. Writing a Research Report in American Psychological Association (APA

    research paper apa guidelines

VIDEO

  1. How Can I Quickly Set Up an APA Format Paper Using APA 7th Edition Guidelines?

  2. Unknown Lab Report Writing Expectations Video

  3. Insert Citation and References in ms word || APA format reference page

  4. How to Format a Paper in APA Style

  5. How to format your paper in APA 7th edition style [2024] #apa_style

  6. IEEE Paper Format|Template & Guidelines

COMMENTS

  1. Paper format

    To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments. The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create ...

  2. APA Sample Paper

    Media Files: APA Sample Student Paper , APA Sample Professional Paper This resource is enhanced by Acrobat PDF files. Download the free Acrobat Reader. Note: The APA Publication Manual, 7 th Edition specifies different formatting conventions for student and professional papers (i.e., papers written for credit in a course and papers intended for scholarly publication).

  3. APA Formatting and Style Guide (7th Edition)

    Basic guidelines for formatting the reference list at the end of a standard APA research paper Author/Authors Rules for handling works by a single author or multiple authors that apply to all APA-style references in your reference list, regardless of the type of work (book, article, electronic resource, etc.)

  4. APA format for academic papers and essays

    Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines: Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides. Double-space all text, including headings. Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches. Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.).

  5. PDF Student Paper Setup Guide, APA Style 7th Edition

    Indent the first line of every paragraph of text 0.5 in. using the tab key or the paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program. Page numbers: Put a page number in the top right corner of every page, including the title page or cover page, which is page 1. Student papers do not require a running head on any page.

  6. General Format

    General APA Guidelines. Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. Include a page header (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. For a professional paper, this includes your paper title and the page number. For a student paper, this only includes the ...

  7. A step-by-step guide for creating and formatting APA Style student papers

    This article walks through the formatting steps needed to create an APA Style student paper, starting with a basic setup that applies to the entire paper (margins, font, line spacing, paragraph alignment and indentation, and page headers). It then covers formatting for the major sections of a student paper: the title page, the text, tables and ...

  8. Format Your Paper

    Body (section 2.11) Align the text to the left with a 1/2-inch left indent on the first line; Double-space; As long as there is no Abstract, at the top of the first page, type the title of the paper, centered, in bold, and in Sentence Case Capitalization; Usually, include sections like these: introduction, literature review or background, discussion, and conclusion -- but the specific ...

  9. APA Style 7th Edition: Citing Your Sources

    Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association by American Psychological Association The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition is the official source for APA Style. With millions of copies sold worldwide in multiple languages, it is the style manual of choice for writers, researchers, editors, students, and educators in the social and ...

  10. APA Style

    APA Style is described in the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, which is a reference book that contains comprehensive guidelines on how to set up a scholarly paper; format a title page, tables, figures, and other paper elements; create references and in-text citations; and write without bias ...

  11. How to Cite in APA Format (7th edition)

    APA Style is widely used by students, researchers, and professionals in the social and behavioral sciences. Scribbr's APA Citation Generator automatically generates accurate references and in-text citations for free.. This citation guide outlines the most important citation guidelines from the 7th edition APA Publication Manual (2020). Scribbr also offers free guides for the older APA 6th ...

  12. Research Guides: APA Style, 7th edition: Formatting Your Paper

    APA Style Formatting Steps. 1.Set font as Times New Roman and size 12. 2.Click on Insert. 3.Click on Page Number. 4.Click on Top of Page. 5.Click on Plain Number 3 box. 6.Finish cover page (see pages 11 and 12 of the APA guide). 7.Go to second page. 8.Type your title in bold at the top and centered.

  13. Research Guides: APA Citation Style: Paper Format

    To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments. The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create ...

  14. Home

    When using APA, there are two types of citations you will need include in your research paper: This research guide provides information on using APA 7th edition requirements to create reference lists and in-text citations. The 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association was published in October 2019.

  15. APA Title Page (7th edition)

    APA provides different guidelines for student and professional papers. The student version of the APA title page should include the following information (double spaced and centered): Paper title. Author name. Department and university name. Course number and name. Instructor name. Due date of the assignment.

  16. PDF APA 7 Student Sample Paper

    In this sample paper, we've put four blank lines above the title. Commented [AF3]: Authors' names are written below the title, with one double-spaced blank line between them. Names should be written as follows: First name, middle initial(s), last name. Commented [AF4]: Authors' affiliations follow immediately after their names.

  17. How To Do In-Text Citations with Multiple Authors in APA Format

    Refer to the APA Style Publication Manual and other guideline reference documents to confirm your citing within the latest citation guidelines. Giving credit to other authors who have shaped your research and ideas is incredibly important. You can do so without risking plagiarism accusations through in-text citations that are marked and referenced.

  18. A Guide on How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

    How to Start a Research Paper | Step-by-step Guide; APA Citations Made Easy with Our Concise Guide for 2024; A Step-by-Step Guide to APA Formatting Style (7th Edition) Top 10 Online Dissertation Editing Services of 2024; Academic Writing in 2024: 5 Key Dos & Don'ts + Examples;

  19. In-Text Citations: The Basics

    APA Citation Basics. When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, like, for example, (Jones, 1998). One complete reference for each source should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

  20. APA Formatting and Style Guide (6th Edition)

    Types of APA Papers. APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page.

  21. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue.