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Cite Your Sources: Format a paper in APA

Format a paper in APA


Document Setup:
  • Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides.
  • Include page numbers flush right at the top of every page.
  • While the APA Publication Manual does not require a specific font, it should be accessible to all readers and used consistently throughout the paper.
  • Recommended fonts include sans serif fonts such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, and 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode as well as serif fonts such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, and 10-point Computer Modern.
Paper Components:
  • An APA student paper is composed of three sections: Title Page, Main Body, and Reference List.
  • Ask your instructor if an Abstract is required. This is not typical of student papers.




Page Number:
  • The Title Page is page 1
  • From Microsoft Word, click on "Insert" tab > locate "Page Number" > click on the drop-down icon > select "Top of Page" > select "Plain Number Three" which pages the number "1" in the top right corner
    • All subsequent pages will now also be numbered
Paper Title:
  • Positioned in the upper-middle of the page, 3 to 4 lines below the top of the page
  • Centered in bold
  • May take up one or two lines
  • Skip a line before adding elements below
Author's Name:
  • Your first name, middle initial(s), and last name
    • Rachel K. Green
  • If writing with other students, include their names as well
    • Rachel K. Green and Chandler M. Bing
    • Rachel K. Green, Chandler M. Bing, and Joseph F. Tribbiani Jr.
Institutional Affiliation:
  • Include the name of the academic department followed by the name of the institution, separated by a comma
    • Geology Department, Lone Star College-CyFair
Course Information:
  • Course abbreviation, number, and name
    • GEOL 1403: Physical Geology
Instructor Name:
  • Use the instructor’s preferred designation (e.g., Dr., Professor) and spelling
    • Dr. Ross Gellar
Due Date:
  • Month, day, year format
    • October 3, 2022

All items on your title page and the rest of your paper should be double spaced.
  • The Main Body is where you will write your essay based on your instructor's specifications for the assignment.
  • Begin with an introduction to provide background and context.
  • Use descriptive headings to identify other sections (e.g., Method, Results, Discussion for quantitative research papers).
    • Do not use a heading for the introduction.
    • Sections and headings vary depending on paper type and complexity. Refer to the Heading Levels Template above.
  • When starting a new paragraph, hit the Tab key once to indent the first line.
    • Subsequent paragraph lines should be flush left.
  • Text can also include tables, figures, block quotations, and footnotes.
  • Include in-text citations for all ideas, findings, results, or other information that is not your own and is not common knowledge.
  • Your Reference List is the last section of your paper. It provides information about sources you used and cited within your paper.
    • Each source you cite within your paper must appear as an entry in your reference list. Refer to the page in this guide about In-Text Citations for more information and examples.
  • Begin your reference list on a new page separate from the main body of your paper.
  • Title this page References in bold, and center at the top of the page (do not underline or use quotation marks for the title).
  • Double space and use hanging indentation for each entry in your reference list.
    • From Microsoft Word, select your text > click the pop-out icon next to "Paragraph" > select "Hanging" from the special indentation dropdown menu > click "Ok" to apply formatting
  • Alphabetize reference list entries by the last name of the first author of each work.
  • For multiple sources by the same author(s), list entries in chronological order from earliest to most recent.
  • Refer to the page in this guide entitled References for more guidelines and examples.