How To Write An Apa Paper

How to Write an APA Paper: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you struggling with writing an APA paper? Fear not, for you have come to the right place. In this article, we will guide you through the process of writing an APA paper step-by-step. But first, let’s start by understanding what the APA format is and why it is important.

What is APA Format?

Preparing to write an APA paper
Preparing to write an APA paper

APA stands for American Psychological Association. The APA format is a set of guidelines that are used to structure research papers, essays, and other documents in the social sciences. The APA format includes guidelines for formatting, writing style, and referencing.

The APA format is widely used in academic writing, especially in psychology, sociology, and education. It is also used in other fields such as nursing, business, and economics. The APA format provides a standardized way of writing, making it easier for readers to understand and follow the author’s arguments.

Importance of Writing in APA Format

Writing in APA format has several advantages. Firstly, it ensures that your paper is well-structured and easy to read. The APA format provides guidelines for formatting your paper, including margins, spacing, font size, and headings. This makes your paper look professional and easy to navigate.

Secondly, writing in APA format ensures that your paper is properly referenced. The APA format provides guidelines for in-text citations and referencing, which helps to avoid plagiarism. Proper referencing also gives credit to the original authors, making your paper more credible.

In addition, writing in APA format helps to improve your critical thinking skills. The APA format requires you to analyze and synthesize information from various sources, and present your arguments in a clear and concise manner. This helps you to develop your critical thinking skills and become a better writer.

Now that we have understood what the APA format is and why it is important, let’s move on to the next section – Formatting an APA Paper.

Formatting an APA paper can be intimidating, especially if you have never done it before. However, with the following guidelines, you can easily format your paper in APA style.

Page Layout

The first step in formatting your paper in APA style is to set the page layout. The APA format requires you to use 1-inch margins on all sides of the paper. The font size should be 12-point, and the font should be Times New Roman or Arial.

Double-spacing is required throughout the paper, including the reference list. Use the “align left” feature in your word processor to ensure that your text is left-aligned.

Title Page

The title page is the first page of your paper, and it should contain the title of your paper, your name, and your institutional affiliation. The title should be centered, and it should not exceed 12 words. Your name and institutional affiliation should be centered below the title.

Running Head

The running head is a short version of the title that appears at the top of each page. The running head should be in all capital letters and should not exceed 50 characters, including spaces. The running head should be aligned to the left margin, and the page number should be aligned to the right margin.


The abstract is a brief summary of your paper, and it should be on a separate page. The abstract should be between 150 and 250 words, and it should include the purpose of your study, your research methods, your results, and your conclusions.

In the next section, we will discuss the writing style in APA.

Writing Style in APA

In addition to formatting, the APA style also has guidelines for writing style. Here are some key elements to keep in mind when writing in APA style:

Voice (Active vs. Passive)

The APA format recommends using the active voice for most sentences in your paper. The active voice emphasizes the subject of the sentence and makes your writing more engaging and direct. However, the passive voice is appropriate in some cases, such as when you want to emphasize the action rather than the subject.


The tone of your writing should be professional and objective. Avoid using personal pronouns, contractions, and slang. Also, avoid using emotional language or making value judgments. Your writing should be neutral and unbiased.

Clarity and Conciseness

Your writing should be clear and concise. Use simple and direct language, and avoid using jargon, technical terms, or complex sentences. Use headings and subheadings to organize your ideas and make your writing easier to follow. Finally, proofread your writing to eliminate errors and improve clarity.

In-text Citations

In-text citations are an important part of the APA style. In-text citations provide evidence for your arguments and give credit to the original sources. Here are some guidelines for in-text citations in APA style:

Importance of Citing Sources

Citing sources is important for several reasons. Firstly, it gives credit to the original authors and avoids plagiarism. Secondly, it allows readers to locate the sources and verify your arguments. Finally, it demonstrates your knowledge and understanding of the topic.

Author-Date Citation Style

The APA format uses the author-date citation style. This means that you should include the author’s last name and the publication year in parentheses in the text. For example, (Smith, 2019). If you are citing a direct quotation, you should also include the page number(s). For example, (Smith, 2019, p. 20).

Direct and Indirect Quotations

There are two types of quotations in APA style: direct and indirect. A direct quotation is a word-for-word copy of the original text, enclosed in quotation marks. An indirect quotation is a summary or paraphrase of the original text. In both cases, you should provide a citation to the original source.

Reference List

The reference list is a crucial part of your APA paper. It includes all the sources that you have cited in your paper. The reference list should be on a separate page, and it should be alphabetized by the author’s last name.

Formatting Guidelines

The reference list should be double-spaced, with a hanging indent of 0.5 inches. The font size should be 12-point, and the font should be Times New Roman or Arial. The reference list should also be in alphabetical order, based on the author’s last name.

Order of References

The order of the references in the reference list should be based on the author’s last name. If there is more than one author, the references should be listed in alphabetical order based on the first author’s last name. If there is no author, the reference should be listed alphabetically by the title of the work.

Examples of Different Types of Sources

The APA format has specific guidelines for citing different types of sources. Here are some examples of how to cite different types of sources in the reference list:

  • Books: Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Publisher.
  • Journal Articles: Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number(issue number), page range.
  • Websites: Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day of publication). Title of webpage. Website Name. URL.

Finalizing Your APA Paper

Once you have finished writing your paper in APA format, it is important to proofread and edit it before submitting it. Here are some tips to finalize your APA paper:

Proofreading and Editing

Proofreading and editing are essential to ensure that your paper is error-free and easy to read. Read through your paper carefully, checking for spelling and grammar errors. Make sure that your sentences are clear and concise, and that your arguments are well-supported.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

There are several common mistakes that students make when writing in APA format. These include:

  • Forgetting to include a running head on each page
  • Incorrectly formatting in-text citations
  • Failing to include a reference list
  • Incorrectly formatting the reference list

Make sure to check for these common mistakes before submitting your paper.

Submission and Grading

Once you have proofread and edited your paper, it is ready for submission. Make sure to follow your instructor’s guidelines for submission. Your paper will be graded based on several factors, including the quality of your writing, the strength of your arguments, and the accuracy of your citations and references.

In conclusion, writing an APA paper may seem daunting at first, but with the proper guidelines and practice, it can become second nature. Remember to follow the formatting guidelines, use proper citation and referencing methods, and proofread and edit your paper before submission. With these tips, you can write a high-quality APA paper that will impress your instructors and peers.