How to Apply APA Format to Your Essay? Easy-to-Follow Guide



All academic papers require you to format the content according to the required citation style, and essays that you need to write in school or college are no exception. Your grades depend on many factors, and one of them is your ability to follow the necessary style guidelines. If your text is different from the required standard, your essay won’t receive a good grade, no matter how great the overall meaning and content are.

Losing points because of poor formatting is quite frustrating so you must know citation formats and their distinctive features. For instance, APA format is different from Chicago or MLA. If you need to write an essay formatted according to APA but you have only used Chicago or MLA before, this task can be especially difficult because you will have to reconsider many minor elements.

While formatting your paper according to a required citation style is easy with academic writing companies recommended by Better Writing Services, it is mandatory that you know how to do it yourself. In this guide, we will address the main features of APA format so that you will know what to expect.

What Is APA Format?

Students who take a psychology class use APA format on a regular basis. APA format is a formatting style described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. While being very common in psychology, this format is also often used in social sciences, education, and other areas. For example, APA citation style is used in Linguistics, Sociology, Nursing, and Political Science. However, you shouldn’t choose the APA format simply because your area of study is in this incomplete list. It’s very important to always clarify requirements with your instructor so that you can use the right style in each particular situation.

Following the necessary formatting rules is important for several reasons. First, you don’t want to give your teacher another reason to mark your essay down. Secondly, proper citation formatting can help you acknowledge the contribution made by researchers. Besides, if your quotations and paraphrased fragments are not properly attributed to original authors, your essay will suffer from plagiarism, which is a huge problem in the academic world.

Basic Rules of APA Format

Here are some basic rules of APA format. We recommend that you always ask your teacher for more detailed instructions because there might be specific requirements regarding a particular assignment.

  • Your paper should have at least one-inch margins on all sides of the page. 
  • Every page should have a page number at the top right corner.
  • Use double spaces throughout the entire paper.
  • The first word of each paragraph should be indented by a half-inch.
  • When working on professional papers, you should also include a running head at the top left corner. The running head must contain a shortened version of the title, and it shouldn’t exceed 50 characters including spaces.
  • Your essay must have a clear and concise title that describes the main subject.
  • The title should be up to 12 words long, and it can take two lines.
  • Your essay must have a properly formatted title page. This page must feature the title, your name, and your educational institution. Your teacher may also ask you to provide some additional information on the title page.
  • You should also write a reference list. This section should be located at the end of your paper and contain all the sources that you’ve cited. You should list references in alphabetical order, starting with the authors’ last names. The references should also be double-spaced.
  • The American Psychological Association recommends using a 12 pt Times New Roman font.

Formatting References According to APA Style

The reference format is probably the most important factor when it comes to essay formatting. When writing essays, research papers, and many other types of academic assignments, students use a variety of sources. All students are allowed to use various sources, but they should properly attribute all citations so that they won’t be accused of plagiarism. Every source that you use, whether it be a book, article, movie, or music, should be included in the references section and properly formatted.

Usually, the references section is the last part of APA papers. References should start on a new page titled “References” (you don’t need to use quotation marks in your paper). The title of the references page shouldn’t be underlined or italicized. Each entry can take more than one line so you should make sure that your references are easy to read and follow APA guidelines. Visually, entries in references look opposite to regular paragraphs in books because the first line is always flush left, while all the other lines must be indented.

You should also keep in mind that different types of sources should be formatted differently. For instance, when writing titles of journals, you should capitalize all major words. You may also italicize both titles of journals and volume numbers. However, when citing articles, you should only capitalize the first word and words that follow a column. You should also include the title of the journal after the title of the article, followed by the page number, and DOI (if available). When citing books, an italicized title must be followed by the publisher’s city and name.

Generally, you should organize entries in references alphabetically, starting from the author’s last name. The last name should be followed by initials along with a year of publication in parentheses. After this, you should include the title of the source. You may also use multiple sources written by the same author. In this case, you should list these sources chronologically, starting with the oldest one.

Wrapping Up

APA format is very common in various academic disciplines. We hope that this quick guide will help you figure out the main features of APA format. Please check out the official APA website to get more detailed information on specific aspects of this style. Keep in mind that your teacher and your school may also have other requirements. Always clarify formatting requirements with your teacher before writing an essay so that you can be sure that you’re doing everything right.

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