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APA Citations: Formatting APA Papers

Information on citing sources in American Psychological Association format (7th edition).

General Formatting

APA Body of PaperThe formatting on nearly every page should consist of the following:

  • Margins should be 1" on each side of the page.
  • Use a size 11-12 pt readable font, such as Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman.
  • The page number should appear in the top right page header on each page.
  • Headings and section titles (Abstracts, References, etc.) should appear centered and bolded, without any extra spaces or line breaks.
  • The paper should be double-spaced, with no extra spaces in between sections.
  • Each sentence should have a single space between it and the next sentence.
  • The paper should be broken into a Title page, Abstract (if applicable), main paper, and References page. Each should begin on a separate page with a bold, centered heading.
  • Each paragraph should be indented 0.5" to the right.
    • Exceptions: Entries on the References page should have a hanging indent 0.5" to the left. The Abstract paragraph should not be indented. 
  • In-text quotations should include the author's last name, publication year, and page number in parentheses before the period.

Specific Pages

APA Title PageTitle Page

Centered in the middle of a separate page should be, each on its own line:

  • The Title of Your Paper (bold, 3 lines down from the top of the page)
  • [blank line]
  • Your Name
  • Your College
  • Course Number and Name
  • Professor's Name
  • Assignment Due Date, written as Month Day, Year

Abstract (if applicable)

If your instructor requires an abstract, put this on a separate page.

  • Center and bold the title Abstract
  • Write a paragraph summarizing your paper. Do not indent it.
  • If adding keywords, add a new indented line, italicize Keywords:  and list keywords separated by commas.

Main Body

  • Center and bold your title.
  • Indent each paragraph 0.5".

Most community college papers are short enough that only level 1 headings are needed. If your paper is long and you require subheadings, use the following formatting:

  • APA References Page

    Level 1 Headings: Bold, Centered, on a separate line.
  • Level 2 Headings: Bold, Left-aligned, on a separate line.
  • Level 3 Headings: Bold, Italicized, Left-aligned, on a separate line.
  • Level 4 Headings: Bold, Left-aligned, indented, on the same line as text.
  • Level 5 Headings: Bold, Italicized, Left-aligned, indented, on the same line as text.

Do not create a subheading for your introduction - Your title serves this purpose.

References Page

  • Center and bold References on a separate page at the end of your paper.
  • Each entry on the References page should have a hanging indent 0.5" to the left.
  • Include every reference you cited in your paper except personal interviews.
  • See the tab on APA Citations for the information to include in each reference item.

Using Templates

Google Docs and Microsoft Word have pre-made templates you can use. Check them first to make sure that you have the correct edition and that they fit the format required by your instructor. You can delete any extraneous lines that you don't need to use.

Google Docs

When you open the Google Docs program (click the blue Google Docs paper icon in the top left corner), you are taken to a landing page with the option to start a new document in a blank document and several templates. Click the Template Gallery to expand it and scroll down to Educationwhere you can find templates for both APA and MLA papers. Make sure you select the correct edition.

Google Docs Template Gallery

Google Docs Template - Selecting MLA or APA

Microsoft Word

When you open Microsoft Word, you are taken to the landing page, where you can select a blank document or choose from an existing template. Here, you can also use keywords such as "MLA" or "APA" to search for a template. Make sure you select the correct edition or, if using an older template, make sure you make the necessary changes to update it.

Word Templates

Formatting an APA Paper Using Google Docs

Formatting a student version of an APA-Style Paper in Google Docs (APA 7th edition) Video [10:56] by Hannah Kauffman.

APA Resources

Here are a few resources for citing your sources in APA format (7th edition). If you have any questions, feel free to contact a librarian. When in doubt, consult with your instructor for formatting preferences.

Step-by-Step Formatting Tutorial with Microsoft Word 2016

Double-Spacing

  1. Click on the Home tab.
  2. Click the Line and Paragraph icon in the Paragraph section.
  3. Select 2.0 for double spacing.

You can also right click the document, select Paragraph > Line Spacing: Double > OK.

Double Space Steps

Margins

  1. Go to the Layout tab at the top of the document.
  2. Click the Margins icon.
  3. Select Normal (1" margins on all sides).

    Margins Steps

Titles

  1. While in the Home tab, highlight your title.
  2. Bold the title by clicking the B in the Font section (or type CTRL + B).
  3. Click the Center icon in the Paragraph area to center it.

Note: When creating a separate title page, the title should be 3-4 lines down from the top. Otherwise, titles should be on the first line of a new page. (References, Abstract, etc.)

Titles Steps

Font 

  1. On the Home tab, look in the Font area to change your font.
  2. Use a readable 11-12 pt font. Calibri, Arial, and Times New Roman are common.

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Paragraph Indentations 

Body of Paper

  1. Open the Paragraph box on the Home tab.
  2. Select First Line by 0.5" from the Special Indentation box. This should indent the first line by 0.5 inches.
  3. Alternatively, use the ruler to drag the top indentation wedge right by 0.5". (If the ruler is not visible, go to the View tab and check the Ruler box from the Show area.)

    Paragraph Indentations

References Page

  1. For the citations follow the steps above, opening the Paragraph box on the Home tab.
  2. Select Hanging by 0.5" from the Special Indentation box. This should indent the first line by 0.5 inches.
  3. Alternatively, use the ruler to drag the bottom indentation wedge right by 0.5", leaving the top indentation wedge flush against the margin. 

    Hanging Indent Steps

Page Numbers 

  1. Click the Insert tab.
  2. Select Page Number.
  3. From the drop down, select Top of Page.
  4. Choose Plain Number 3, which puts the page number in the top right.

    Page Numbers Steps