How to Format Academic Paper in APA (7th edition) Formatting Style

How to Format Academic Paper in APA (7th edition) Formatting Style

Teachers assign essays and research papers to check student’s knowledge of the subject and academic standards such as writing styles. There are several paper formats like MLA, APA, Turabian, Harvard, Chicago, and IEEE. American Psychological Association has established the guide for the  second one for those scholars who deal with common social sciences like psychology, sociology, philosophy, and other humanities. It is more complicated to format each page of the academic essay in APA than in MLA.

APA Format General Characteristics

Any writing format is used to insert in-text citations and provide a list of bibliography at the end of every assignment. In APA format, a page with bibliography is called References. It can refer to the list of words cited throughout the paper, but most often it refers to the entire phrases of other authors. It is done in order to avoid plagiarism. All sources are usually reserved, so students can’t just steal the thoughts of other authors. Besides, such actions may result in the failing grade for the entire project.

American Psychological Association has offered its own paper format to make a difference between students who study humanities and those who study precise sciences, technological disciplines, and business. However, APA format has become popular in many fields, including publishing. We will recall some examples of APA style formatting in this article, but you can view full samples at the academic service site.

Generally Accepted Basics of APA Formatting

Here are the basic principles of the writing format proposed by the American Psychological Association. Mind that every page has to be formatted in the same way. Only References and cover/title page have some peculiarities.

A research paper or essay should be typed, double-spaced on the standard-sized page. It means 8.5” x 11”). A clear font like Times New Roman or Arial 12 pt. must be used when formatting the page. The only black color of the text is allowed. Bold or italic are used only for headings and titles in the text. You should make 1-inch margins on the bottom, top, and sides.

A running head with the full title of the essay must appear on the title page. Remove the words “running head” from the rest of the pages by leaving the title written in capital letters only. Insert page numbers flush rights to complete the mission. If the full name of your paper is too long, make it shorter for the header (no more than 50 characters).

Using of punctuation marks has its peculiarities. You have to apply one space after the majority of punctuation marks unless punctuation marks are located at the end of the sentence. In this case, apply two spaces afterward. This style has five levels of heading. Each level has its purpose and size. Each paragraph of the writing piece should start with an indented first word.

Let's discuss main parts more precisely. 

1.Title Page

Now we want to provide more details about each element of the APA style paper and examples of these elements.

You’ll be given a specific number of resources to be used. If you don’t have some sources on hand, be ready to conduct in-depth research, qualitative or quantitative – it depends on the type of paper and your goals.

APA 7th edition offers two approaches to formatting title pages: for student paper and professional paper.

Examples of APA title page

Student paper presupposes mentioning the following details:


Student Name Last Name

Title page for professional paper, according to APA 7, looks like as follows:


Institutional affiliation

Author note

Remember about placing Running head on the top of your paper. It is a shortened version of your paper title, which should not exceed 50 characters.

Depending on your information and publication initiatives, develop an eye-catching title. If we speak about a research paper, it should be concise and clear, not necessarily an interesting one. The title of your paper has to reflect the main topic idea without any abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Running head of a title must be a shortened version of the main title.


An abstract should not contain any in-text citations. It is a part that shortly introduces and summarizes the main points of the essay. Share information like what was your research about, why it can be important, and briefly interpret the findings. Check whether this page has research topics, research questions, population sample, methods, and outcomes. According to APA 7 formatting style, an abstract should not contain more than 250 words (1/3 of the page is the best size). You may want to list keywords, especially when we speak about online publication. It might be useful for SEO.

You may find more on the other elements of APA paper if you read this article.

3.Main Body

To logically develop and present the paper, it is usually divided into sections with each having its headings and subheadings. APA formatting style has its rules for formatting headings.

APA headings

There are 5 levels of headings in APA:
                        1-level headings - Centered, Bold, Title Case
    Text starts from the new line
2-level headings - Flushleft, Bold, Title Case
    Text starts from the new line
3-level headings - Flush Left, Bold, Italic, Title Case
Text starts from the new line
    4-level headings - Indented, Bold, Title Case (followed by a period). Text starts just after heading.
    5-level headings - Indented, Bold, Title Case (followed by a period). Text starts just after heading.

APA in-text citations

APA format presupposes author date in-text citations. Most common example of APA citation is (Jenkins & Jenkins, 2016). If you add a direct quote or cite a specific page, you should also specify the page number. For example, (Jenkins & Jenkins, 2016, p. 193).

APA also allows using footnotes and endnotes. However, this format is rarely used. You should always specify with your professor the type of citations to be used in your paper to avoid any misunderstandings.

4.APA 7 Reference List

On this page, you should write your references. Center and bold title “References.” It shouldn’t include quotation marks. Articles that you’ve used in your paper should be mentioned in this section.      

Tips on How to format References in APA 7 Format

It is one of the most important parts of your work. It is a separate page that contains a list of all the sources used in your paper and details on these sources. Here are the general guidelines:

  • reference list should be placed on a separate page at the end of the paper
  • the list should contain all the sources cited in paper
  • all the sources from the list should be mentioned in paper
  • the sources should be listed in an alphabetic order
  • each source should be formatted according to its type

APA 7 referencing. General Guidelines

The last thing to discuss is how to organize information on the References page of your paper. Consult professional writers, or try to develop APA style by yourself. It is one of the most important parts of your work. There are different types of sources, starting from print books to pieces of art. Each type of source that you use in your paper should be within the reference list, and each source has its formatting peculiarities. In general, for the book or article, you should mention the author, date of publication, title, container of the article, and publisher. You should learn how to cite your sources correctly and use an appropriate format for each type of source. We have collected the APA7 guidelines for formatting the most commonly used sources.

1. Book. 
Author, A.A. (year of publication). Title of work: Subtitle. Publisher. DOI (if available)

Note that in APA 7 you should not mention the place of publication.

2. Edited book
Editor, A.B. (Ed.) (year of publication). Title of work: Subtitle. Publisher. DOI (if available)

3. Journal article 
Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of an article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages. DOI

3. Article from online periodical with DOI assigned
Author, A.A, & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, Vol.(Issue), page numbers. DOI

4. Article from online periodical with no DOI assigned. If the article has no DOI assigned and was published online, add and URL.
Author, A.A, & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of article. Website. Retrieved month, day, year from URL

6. YouTube video
Author, A. B. [Username]. (Year, Month Date). Title of video [Video]. Streaming Service. URL

5. Wikipedia article
Title of article. (Year, Month, Day). In Wikipedia. URL of archived version of page

In our guide, we’ve tried to collect helpful tips that may help to write a good paper in APA format for any discipline. You should learn how to place quotations, making your work relevant, which sources you may use in your paper, like articles, journals, official sites and more. You also learned about main sections that are necessary for a good paper. People frequently find this type of essay writing pieces challenging because it requires following strict rules. But our useful review recommends to be patient and to learn all the peculiarities of English content wrote in APA style.

If you experience difficulties, you may try professional assistant. It can be found on the online essay writing services. You may even buy a custom essay in APA style.