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Ever wonder how to format an APA paper? Starting with the definition, Essayfrontiers’s article provides the APA citation guide and the APA format example to lead you through your next assignment.


What Is APA Style

APA is a citation style that is most commonly used to format papers on psychology and stands for the American Psychological Association. Additionally, the APA writing style is utilized in works on humanities, education, nursing, and social sciences.

The APA style allows students and researchers to communicate their research, experiments, and ideas in a consistent format. By sticking to the APA manual, you let your readers know what to look for in your writing assignment.

If you have never taken a social science or psychology class before, then you might be interested in using a different format style such as MLA or Chicago style.

How to Format an APA Paper

The general APA formatting consists of the following rules:

  • A clear and highly readable font like Times New Roman
  • 12pt font, double spaced
  • 1” margins on all sides
  • Include heading on the top of every page that includes the shortened title of your APA paper (>50 characters)
  • Insert a page number on the right

Additionally, the APA essay format is divided into four parts:


4 parts of an APA essay format by essayfrontiers


The title page, also called the cover page, is the first page of your APA paper. The abstract is the next page, followed by the main body. The last page is the bibliography, otherwise called the “References” page.

APA Title PageThe title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and the name of your institution.

  • A page header placed on the left of your paper. Your page number should go on the right.
  • All text in your APA paper, including the title page, should be double-spaced.
  • Your title should be centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends keeping the title short (≤12 words). Make sure your title contains no abbreviations or words with no purpose.

APA Heading Examples



Gad and Good headings of an APA essay


The bad example contains 15 words and an abbreviation. The good example is shorter and doesn’t include any abbreviation.

After the APA header, type your full name: first, middle initial(s), and last name(s). Do not, however, include titles such as Dr. or degrees (Ph.D.). Beneath your name, type your institutional affiliation. That would be your school, university, or anything else for that matter.


The abstract page is a concise summary of what your research is about. It should be on the following page after your title page and should already include the header on the top left. On the 1st line, center the word “Abstract” with no additional formatting (no bold, italics, underlining, quotation marks, etc.). So, how to write an abstract APA?

The APA abstract should contain:

  • Research question
  • Participants
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Data analysis
  • Conclusion

Your abstract page should be between 150-250 words. Listing keywords in your abstract is optional. You have to create a new paragraph and type keywords in italics, and then list your keywords.

Note that some teachers/professors may have deviations to some of the characteristics that the APA format paper originally requires, such as those listed above.

Writing the Outline

The outline is the best to keep track of your sources. You can do so by listing a point and adding information (Author name, page number, URL) in the subheading. Keep in mind that when writing the APA paper outline, your information in headings should be of equal importance.

  • The main point of paragraph #1
    From: source.

    • Subpoint of paragraph
      From: source
  • The main point of paragraph #2
    From: source

    • Subpoint of paragraph
      From: source
  • The main point of paragraph #3
    • Subpoint of paragraph
      From: source

APA Citation Guide

When constructing APA in-text citations, you need to do the following:

  • Capitalize the author’s name and initial.
  • When referring to the title of the source, capitalize all the letters.
  • Italicize or underline titles of longer works such as books, movies, documentaries, music albums, and television series.
  • Put quotations around articles, television series episodes, and song titles.
  • In short quotes (>40 words) you will want to introduce the phrase with the author’s last name and include the date of publication in parenthesis. At the end of the quote, you will need to add a page number for reference.
  • If the author is not named, place the author’s name, year of publication, and page number in parentheses after the quotation.
  • In quotations that are over 40 words, block quotes are used. Indent quote ½ from the left margin in a new paragraph. The citation should come after the punctuation mark.

Do you need some help with formatting your APA paper? Count on the support of our professional writers and editors.


Reference Page

A References page usually appears at the end of the APA paper. In other paper formatting styles, it may be called “Bibliography” or “Works Cited.”

  • Center “References” at the top of your page. Do not boldface, underline, or put quotation marks around it.
  • Your reference page should be double-spaced.
  • All lines after the first line in your reference list should have a hanging indent. Indent one-half an inch from the left margin.
  • Authors names are “last name, first name.” If the piece has more than one author, list their names as initials.
  • Your list should be in alphabetical order.
  • Italicize books and journals. Put quotes around articles and essays.
    When summarizing or paraphrasing, you input your in-text reference (author and year of publication). The page number is optional.

Here are the most common examples for your APA style bibliography:

How to Cite a Textbook APA
Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year of Publication). The title of work. Publisher City, State: Publisher.


Miller, A.(1953).The Crucible. New York: Viking Press.

How to Cite E-Books
Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year of Publication). The title of work [E-Reader Version]. Retrieved from {link}


Miller, A. (2008). The Crucible [Kindle Version]. Retrieved from {link}

How to Cite a Film
Producer [last name], A.A. [first name middle initial] (Producer), & Director, A.A. (Director). (Release Year). The title of motion picture [Motion Picture]. Country of Origin: Studio


Hitchcock, A. (Producer & Director). (1960). Psycho [Motion Picture]. United States: Paramount.

How to Cite a Photograph
Photographer, A.A.. (Photographer). (Year, Month Date of Publication). Title of photograph [photograph]. City, State of publication: Publisher/museum.


Adams, A. (Photographer). (1942). Close-up of leaves In Glacier National Park (1942) [photograph]. New York, NY: New-York Historical Society.

APA Website Citation
Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month Date of Publication). Article title.
Retrieved from {link}


Monbiot, G. (2014, October 14). The Age of Loneliness is Killing Us. Retrieved from {link}

How to Cite a Journal
Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Publication Year). Article title. Periodical Title, Volume (Issue), pp.-pp.


Bellamy, M. (1999). Show-Business: A Chain of Inspiration. Music Theory Today: Influence of Alternative Rock. 13(3-4), 147-148.

How to Cite a Newspaper
Author [last name], A.A [first and middle initial]. (Year, Month Date of Publication). Article title. Magazine Title, pp. xx-xx.


Maly, S. (2017, January 15). How to Write an Essay Online APA Style. Essayfrontiers, pp 9-12.


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