Free Guide to APA Essay Format

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I can’t focus when there are too many things around. Whenever I used to go to the office, I used to always say, ‘Tidy up.’

Zaha Hadid

When your essay is a mess, your readers won’t be able to focus. You must tidy up. Essay formatting is essential as it will help your work to look neat and tidy.

What Is APA Essay Format?

The APA (American Psychological Association) essay format is the way of designing citation and designing bibliographic descriptions in the references. It was designed to be used in psychology, and now it is one of the most widely used formats in writing academic papers, and is used in many disciplines. By using APA style the one can modify quotes differently. You can apply these rules to the in-text quote in the particular place in the text or in references.

If you are asked to apply APA essay format in your paper, you actually have to use a format described in this article. Here, we will tell you how to manage everything from the width of your essay’s margins to the citations for your sources.

General Formatting

There are a couple of basic points you should think of right at the beginning of your work. Initially, check the margins. The margins should be 1 inch all around your document. Next, pick up the font that is easy to read and understand. The APA recommends 12-pt Times New Roman, however, you are free to improvise and use other fonts. Finally, the whole paper — from the cover page to the reference list — should be double-spaced with paragraphs indented 1/2 an inch.

One more thing is to obey citation rules. Nowadays, plagiarism is a big deal, so you should be aware of the fact that any words that do not belong to you should be put into quotation marks and presented as someone else’s contribution. You should use quotation if you often mention someone else’s work in your publication, if you quote someone else directly and if you rephrase someone. Citation also includes the surname of the author or authors, a year and a publication source. It incorporates page numbers or paragraphs for direct quoting and for paraphrasing as well.

The purpose of the in-text citation in our essays is to refer readers to the list of “References.” If the source is from a book written by the author, e.g., (Shimamura, 2005, chap. 3) or two authors as in (Cheek & Buss, 2006, p. 332), we would like to have the year and chapter or page number. However, many of the in-text citations recently have been from websites. Please make sure to cite the source of a quotation or a paraphrased summary of an author’s words. Ideas and words of others must be formally acknowledged. Direct citations should be clearly shown with double quotation marks.

Important Elements of APA Essay Format

  1. Running head. Running head is a shortened title that is placed above of the document on the left side of each page. It should be no longer than 5 – 6 words. When writing the running head for the first time it should look like this “Running head: Dogs: Buy or Not.” On successive pages, you don’t have to write words “Running head” again. Only the headline itself.
  2. Cover page. APA essay format presupposes creation of the title page according to the rules. APA essay title page should include the full title of your paper, your name, the name of your school/university. These elements must be placed at the center of the page.
  3. Abstract. APA style papers always include the abstract. The abstract is the short statement of main points of your research (short description of the problem, goal, methods, and results/conclusions). It should be around 200 words in length. The aim of an abstract is to notify the reader about the issue and the goal of your essay. This will help your readers to understand if your work is worth reading. By the way, you should place the abstract on the second page of your work. The word abstract is written at the center. Remember, no quotation marks! It is also good to write keywords even if it is not required. Keywords are words that define what is your paper about and are separated by commas. Place them right beneath the abstract.
  4. Body. According to the APA format essay, a body should be written from the new page. The whole text should be typed flush-left with each paragraph’s first line indented 5-7 spaces from the left. The body incorporates introduction, main part, and conclusions. Main part can be subdivided into smaller sections which have subtitles.
  5. Essay Reference Page. The list of links should be placed on a new page. Just write “References” at the top center. The references should have an indentation and a double arrangement, where the first line of each link is aligned to the left margin of the field, while all subsequent lines are indented to the right. Indentation should be around 1.25 cm. These parameters can be set using text editors. All links from the reference list should be included in the text. All references in the text should also be included in the reference list (unpublished material is an exception). Links in the list are arranged in alphabetical order of the names of authors.

Names of organizations are provided without contractions if they are not known (for example, APA for the American Psychological Association). Do not give full electronic URLs (example, Check the main details of the actual source. It confirms that you have read the source before including it into your work.

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