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APA Formatting and Style Guide




APA Style Guide Quick Reference


What is an APA Style  


APA style is a widely accepted style of documentation, particularly in the social

sciences socialWhen teachers ask you to write in "APA style," they do not mean

 writing style, they are referring to the editorial style that many of the social and

 behavioral sciences have adopted to present written material in the field.


APA style specifies the names and order of headings, formatting, the organization of

citations and references, the arrangement of tables, figures, footnotes, and

appendices, as well as other manuscript and documentation features. 


The following is a quick summary guide lines on how to format your research paper,

however, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA)

must be followed for headings and subheadings, tables, figures, block quotations, in-

text citations, and references. You may find a copy of the Publication Manual in

your school library or even a local bookstore.


This quick reference should not be used as a style guide; it is only a reference tool

 to be used in conjunction with the most recent version of the APA style guide.


For a complete example y:



Formatting the paper


General Format


- Your essay should be typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with

 1" margins on all sides and keep it there throughout the entire manuscript.

- You should use 12 Times New Roman font or a similar font (In other words, there

should be 10 typed characters per inch).

- Include a page header in the upper right-hand of every page. To create a page

header, type the first 2-3 words of the title of the paper, insert five spaces, then give

the page number.

- Use normal paragraphs in which the first line is indented five characters for all

paragraphs in the manuscript except the abstract, block quotes, titles and headings,

subheadings, references, table titles, notes, and figure captions.  

- Capitalize the first letter following a colon if the clause following the colon is a

complete sentence.

- Make sure the text is left aligned and not justified. With left aligned text, the left

margin forms a straight line and the right margin is ragged. With justified text both the

left and right margins form a straight line.

- Do not hyphenate (split) words at the end of a line.

- Finally, just staple or clip the finished product (do not bother with fancy folders, etc.).



Major Paper Sections


Your essay should include four major sections: 

Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.


Title Page


- The APA manual does not provide guidelines for preparing the title page of a college paper, but most instructors will want you to include one.

- Your title page should already include the page header (described above). On the

first line of the title page flush-left, add a running head. Begin the running head with

the words “Running Head” followed by a colon. Then give an abbreviated title of your

paper in 50 characters or less in all caps (Remember that the page header will

appear on every page of your paper), whereas the running head will only appear on

 your title page.

- In the upper half of the title page, type your full title, your byline (name[s]), and

affiliation (university, etc.) centered on separate lines. Your title may take up one or

two lines as in the example below:


 Example :





- The title page is numbered as page i; the abstract page, if there is one, is numbered

 as page ii.

- Use arabic numerals, beginning with 1, for the rest of the paper. In the upper right-

hand corner of each page, type a short version of your title, followed by five spaces

and the page number.

- Number all pages, including the title page.






- Use margins of one inch on all sides of the page.

- Left-align the text.

- Double-space throughout the paper, but single-space footnotes.

- Indent the first line of each paragraph one-half inch (or five spaces).





- If your instructor requires one, include an abstract immediately after the title page.

- Center the word Abstract one inch from the top of the page; double-space the

abstract as you do the body of your paper.

- An abstract is a 100-to-120-word paragraph that provides readers with a quick

overview of your essay.

- It should express your main idea and your key points; it might also briefly suggest any

implications or applications of the research you discuss in the paper.

For an example:






- Although headings are not always necessary, their use is encouraged in the social


- For most undergraduate papers, one level of heading will usually be sufficient.

In APA style, major headings are centered.

- Capitalize the first word of the heading, along with all words except articles, short

prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions.


Guidelines are provided bellow for up to 5 levels of headings/subheadings, identified

 as follows:


APA heading levels examples




2- Centered with Uppercase and Lowercase Typing- Heading (Level 1)


3- Centered, Italicized, Title Case* Heading (Level 2)


4- Flush Left, Italicized, Title Case* Heading (Level 3)


    5- Indented, italicized, lowercase (paragraph) heading, ending in a period.(Level 4)

These headings are sometimes referred to as paragraph or run-in headings. Although

 they end with a period (or other punctuation) they need not be complete sentences or

 grammatically correct.  


For example: 


- If your document has only 1 (level of) heading, use Level 1.

- If your document has 2 (levels of) headings, use Level 1 (first) and Level 3 (next).

- 3 headings, use Level 1 (first), Level 3 (next), and Level 4 (last).

- 4 headings, use Levels 1 – 4 in that order.

- 5 headings, use Level 5 (first), and then Levels 1 – 4 (see example above).

 Note: Probably three levels of headings (presented up) will suffice for most college .


Notice: the double-spacing within the headings. Bold and other font variants [color, fancy fonts, etc.] are neither required nor appropriate. 




- Classifies visuals as tables and figures (figures include graphs, charts, drawings, and


- The use of tables and figures is too complicated to treat within this document;

students should consult the APA Publication Manual. Generally, however, it is useful

to label each and every table and figure with the word Table or Figure and an arabic

numeral identifying it. Titles should be underlined. The text accompanying tables and

figures must be double-spaced.

- The APA suggests that all tables and figures appear at the end of the paper, each on

a separate page. Some schools and colleges, however, require these elements to

appear within the body of the paper.

- A great deal may depend on the capabilities of the word-processing machine you are

 using. Consult with your instructor before deciding where to place tables and figures.


Keep visuals as simple as possible.


- Label each table with an arabic numeral (Table 1, Table 2, and so on) and provide a

clear title.

- The label and title should appear on separate lines above the table, flush left and

single-spaced. Below the table, give its source in a note.

- If any data in the table require an explanatory footnote, use a superscript lowercase

letter in the body of the table and in a footnote following the source note.

- Single-space source notes and footnotes and do not indent the first line of each note.

For an example:


- For each figure, place a label and a caption below the figure, flush left and single-


- They need not appear on separate lines.

- In the text of your paper, discuss the most significant features of each visual.

- Place the visual as close as possible to the sentences that relate to it unless your

instructor prefers it in an appendix. 




Figures include all types of illustrations (i.e., graphs, maps, charts, photographs,

drawings, etc.). A figure title/caption is simply titled “Figure” and appears flush left

below the figure, followed by an Arabic numeral and period, all in italics (see example


The title/caption and/or legend (a concise explanation of symbols used in a figure)

appear after the figure label, flush left and double-spaced. For example:


figure example


Figure 1. Overall brain activity during the first 5 minutes of REM. Those suffering from

sleep deprivation show a significantly different pattern than the control group.




All tables should appear as close as possible to corresponding text. Type “Table”

above the corresponding table, flush left, followed by an Arabic numeral. A title/caption

should appear flush left on the next line, title cased*, italicized, and double-spaced.

For example:


Table 1

Imaginary Table Title for Imaginary Data


table example






- When a quotation is longer than forty words, set it off from the text by indenting it one

 half inch (or five spaces) from the left margin. Double-space the quotation.

- Quotation marks are not needed when a quotation has been set off from the text.

For an example:


- If you are directly quoting from a work, you will need to include the author, year of

publication, and the page number for the reference (preceded by "p."). Introduce the

quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the

date of publication in parentheses.


According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style,especially when it was their first time" (p. 199). Jones (1998) found "students often had difficulty using APA style" (p. 199); what implications does this have for teachers? If the author is not named in a signal phrase, place the author's last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation. She stated, "Students often had difficulty using APA style," (Jones, 1998, p. 199), but she did not offer an explanation as to why.  


- Place each footnote, if any, at the bottom of the page on which the text reference


- Double space between the last line of text on the page and the footnote.

- Indent the first line of the footnote one-half inch (or five spaces).

- Begin the note with the superscript arabic numeral that corresponds to the number in

the text. You must give page numbers for direct quotes. For example:


 Smith (1978) noted that "the world is round" (p. 1).


- Three or four quotes in a 10 page paper is about the upper limit.

- Display a quotation of more than 40 words as free-standing block of text indented 5

spaces from the left margin (doubles spaced as usual).

- Omit the quotation marks and include the page number in parentheses after the last


- If the quotation is more than one paragraph, indent the first line of the second and

any additional paragraphs 5 spaces.

For an example:




Citing In-Text:



The APA’s in-text citations provide at least the author’s last name and the date of

publication. For direct quotations and some paraphrases, a page number is given as


NOTE:APA style requires the use of the past tense or the present perfect tense in

signal phrases introducing cited material: Smith (2005) reported, Smith (2005) has



Basic Rules for Formatting Citations in the Body of Your Paper:


1- Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names.

2 - If you refer to the title of a source within your paper, capitalize all words that are

four letters long or greater within the title of a source.

3 - When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word.

4 - After a colon or dash in a title, capitalize the first word.

5 - Italicize the titles of longer works such as books, edited collections, movies,

documentaries, or albums.

6 - Put quotation marks around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles,

articles from edited collections, television shows, and song titles.

7 - If a work has two authors, cite both names every time the reference appears in

your text. Join the authors' names with the word and. 

8 - If a work has three, four, or five authors, cite all of the authors the first time you

refer to the work in your text. The next time you refer to the work, shorten the citation

to the last name of the first author plus the words et al. Join the authors' names with

the word and if you are referring to them in the text; join the authors' names with an

ampersand (&) if you are referring to them in a parenthetical citation.

9 - If a work has six authors (or more), cite only the last name of the first author plus

the words et al. 




Ordinarily, introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author’s last

 name followed by the year of publication in parentheses. Put the page number

(preceded by “p.”) in parentheses after the quotation.


Critser (2003) noted that despite growing numbers of overweight Americans, many

health care providers still “remain either in ignorance or outright denial about the

health danger to the poor and the young” (p. 5).


If the author is not named in the signal phrase, place the author’s name, the year, and

 the page number in parentheses after the quotation: (Critser, 2003, p. 5).


NOTE: APA style requires the year of publication in an in-text citation. Do not include a

 month, even if the source is listed by month and year.




Include the author’s last name and the year either in a signal phrase introducing the

material or in parentheses following it. A page number or another locator is not

required for a summary or a paraphrase, but include one if it would help readers find

the passage in a long work.


According to Carmona (2004), the cost of treating obesity is exceeded only by the cost

 of treating illnesses from tobacco use (para. 9).

The cost of treating obesity is exceeded only by the cost of treating illnesses from

tobacco use (Carmona, 2004, para. 9).



Name both authors in the signal phrase or parentheses each time you cite the work. In the parentheses, use “&” between the authors’ names; in the signal phrase, use “and.”


According to Sothern and Gordon (2003), “Environmental factors may contribute as

 much as 80% to the causes of childhood obesity” (p. 104)".

"Obese children often engage in less physical activity (Sothern & Gordon, 2003, p. 104)".




Identify all authors in the signal phrase or parentheses the first time you cite the



In 2003, Berkowitz, Wadden, Tershakovec, and Cronquist con- cluded, “Sibutramine

must be carefully monitored in ado-lescents, as in adults, to control increases in [blood

pressure] and pulse rate” (p. 1811).


In subsequent citations, use the first author’s name followed by “et al.” in either the

signal phrase or the parentheses.


As Berkowitz et al. (2003) advised, “Until more extensive safety and efficacy data are

 available, weight-loss medications should be used only on an experimental basis for

 adolescents (p. 1811).




Use the first author’s name followed by “et al.” in the signal phrase or the parentheses.

McDuffie et al. (2002) tested 20 adolescents aged 12-16 over a three-month period

and found that orlistat, combined with behavioral therapy, produced an average weight

 loss of 4.4 kg, or 9.7 pounds (p. 646).



If the author is unknown, mention the work’s title in the signal phrase or give the first

word or two of the title in the parenthetical citation.

Titles of articles and chapters are put in quotation marks; titles of books and reports

are italicized.


"Children struggling to control their weight must also struggle with the pressures of

television advertising that, on the one hand, encourages the consumption of junk food

 and, on the other, celebrates thin celebrities (“Television,” 2002)".


NOTE:In the rare case when “Anonymous” is specified as the author, treat it as if it

were a real name: (Anonymous, 2001). In the list of references, also use the name

 Anonymous as author.



If the author is a government agency or other organization, name the organization in

the signal phrase or in the parenthetical citation the first time you cite the source.


Obesity puts children at risk for a number of medical complications, including type 2

diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and orthopedic problems (Henry J. Kaiser Family

 Foundation, 2004, p. 1).


If the organization has a familiar abbreviation, you may include it in brackets the first

time you cite the source and use the abbreviation alone in later citations.




When your parenthetical citation names two or more works, put them in the same

order that they appear in the reference list, separated by semicolons.


"Researchers have indicated that studies of pharmacological treatments for childhood

 obesity are inconclusive (Berkowitz et al., 2003; McDuffie et al., 2003)".




To avoid confusion, use initials with the last names if your reference list includes two

or more authors with the same last name.


Research by E. Smith (1989) revealed that . . .




When your list of references includes more than one work by the same author in the

 same year, use lowercase letters (“a,” “b,” and so on) with the year to order the

entries in the reference list. Use those same letters with the year in the in-text citation.

"Research by Durgin (2003b) has yielded new findings about the role of counseling in

 treating childhood obesity".


More Example:


1- Author Mentioned in Sentence


Cite only the publication date in parentheses, directly following the author’s name

wherever it appears in the sentence. To cite a particular part of a source, include a

comma and page number after the basic entry.

Paraphrase: Author, followed by the date in parentheses, continuing with the rest of

the sentence, and then ending the sentence with the page number in parentheses.

Example: Havid (1999) from Johns Hopkins University found that patient

contentment rose with doctor involvement (p. 5)


                                    2- Another Option

Paraphrase: Author and date are mentioned in the sentence. This may occur when you don't mention the research the author has done but quote directly from her/him.

Example: In Havid's 1999 study, he found the rise of patient contentment

rose with more doctor involvement (p. 5).


3- Author Not Mentioned in Sentence


Cite author’s last name, followed by a comma and the publication date, all in

parentheses. To cite a particular part of a source, include a comma and page number

(s) after the basic entry. Direct quote from text: Author, date, and page number in parentheses all follow the quoted material.


It has been noted that "patient satisfaction increases with increased doctor-

patient interaction" (Havid, 1999, p. 5).


According to Jones (1998), APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time

learners. APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (Jones,

1998, p. 199).


References General / Spacing


Begin your list of references on a new page at the end of the paper. Center the title

References about one inch from the top of the page. Double-space throughout.

For a sample click here:



No matter what you're citing, the basic format for an APA-style citation remains the




1. Author(s) last name and first initial
2. Year of publication
3. Title and subtitle OR article title and source title
4. Place of publication
5. Publishing company





Type the first line of an entry flush left and indent any additional lines one-half inch (or

 five spaces), as shown here



Alphabetize the reference list by the last names of the authors (or editors); when a

work has no author or editor, alphabetize by the first word of the title other than A, An,

or The.

If your list includes two or more works by the same author, arrange the entries by year, the earliest first.

If your list includes two or more works by the same author in the same year, arrange

them alphabetically by title. Add the letters “a,” “b,” and so on within the parentheses

after the year.

Use only the year for articles in journals: (2002a).

Use the full date for articles in magazines and newspapers in the reference list:

(2001a, July 7).

Use only the year in the in-text citation.



Invert all authors’ names and use initials instead of first names.

With two or more authors, use an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name.

Separate the names with commas.

Include names for the first six authors; if there are additional authors, end the list with

“et al.” (Latin for “and others”).



Italicize the titles and subtitles of books; capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle (and all proper nouns).

Capitalize names of periodicals as you would capitalize them normally.


Abbreviations for “page” and “pages” (“p.” and “pp.”) are used before page numbers of newspaper articles and articles in edited books but not before page numbers of articles appearing in magazines and scholarly journals


When a URL must be divided, break it after a double slash or before any other mark of

punctuation. Do not insert a hyphen, and do not add a period after a URL or a DOI.

For a sample list of references.


Each entry should have a hanging indent and be double-spaced; also double-space

between entries. Reference list/bibliography should be arranged alphabetically by

author last name.

 Basic Rules

1- Authors' names are inverted (last name first); give the last name and initials for all

authors of a particular work unless the work has more than six authors. If the work has

more than six authors, list the first six authors and then use et al. after the sixth

author's name to indicate the rest of the authors.

2- Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last names of the first author of

 each work.

3- If you have more than one article by the same author(s), single-author references or

multiple-author references with the exact same authors in the exact same order are listed in order by the year of publication, starting with the earliest.


Wegener, D. T., & Petty, R. E. (1994). Mood management across affective states: The

hedonic contingency hypothesis. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 66,



4- When an author appears both as a sole author and, in another citation, as the first author of a group, list the one-author entries first.


Berndt, T. J. (1999). Friends' influence on students' adjustment to school. Educational

Psychologist, 34, 15-28. Berndt, T. J., & Keefe, K. (1995). Friends' influence on

adolescents' adjustment to school. Child Development, 66, 1312-1329. 


5- References that have the same first author and different second and/or third

authors are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the second author, or the last name of the third if the first and second authors are the same.


Bukowski, A. F. Newcomb, & W. W. Hartup, (Eds.), The company they keep:

Friendship in childhood and adolescence. (pp. 346-365). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge

University Press.

6- If you are using more than one reference by the same author (or the same group of

authors listed in the same order) published in the same year, organize them in the

reference list alphabetically by the title of the article or chapter. Then assign letter suffixes to the year.


Berndt, T. J. (1981a). Age changes and changes over time in prosocial intentions and

 behavior between friends. Developmental Psychology, 17, 408-416.


7- Use "&" instead of "and" when listing multiple authors of a single work.


Smith, J.P., & Luna, A. J., Jr. (2002). A fun book: When you do not know how to format

your list of references (3rd ed.). City: Name of Publisher.


8- If no author is given for a particular source, begin with and alphabetize by using the

 title of the work, which will be listed in place of the author, and use a shortened

version of the title for parenthetical citations.


9- Personal communications, such as e-mail messages to you, or private interviews that you conducted with another person, should not be cited in your reference list because they are not retrievable sources. You should make reference to these

sources in your in-text citations only.


10- All lines after the first line of each entry in your reference list should be indented

one-half inch from the left margin. This is called hanging indentation.


11- When referring to any work that is NOT a journal, such as a book, article, or Web

page, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word

after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns. Do not capitalize the first letter of

the second word in a hyphenated compound word.


12- Capitalize all major words in journal titles.


13- Italicize titles of longer works such as books and journals.


14- Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as

 journal articles or essays in edited collections. 



Refrencing A Print Sources:


    Books and Book Articles


    Author’s last name, followed by a comma, the author’s initial(s), and a period; the year

    of publication in parentheses, period; title in italics (capitalize first word only of both

    the title and subtitle as well as proper nouns), followed by a period; publisher

    information, which includes city, followed by a colon, and the publisher, followed by a

    period. For example:




    Smith, J.P., & Luna, A. J., Jr. (2002). A fun book: When you do not know how to format

    your list of references (3rd ed.). City: Name of Publisher.




    Journal Articles


    Author’s last name, followed by a comma, the author’s initial(s), and a period; the year

    of publication in parentheses, period; article title (no quotes; capitalize first word of

    title and subtitle only), period; Journal title in italics, comma; volume number, comma;

    and page numbers, period.


    Examples of Reference Page entries


  1. Articles or chapters in an edited book, two editors
    Bjork, R.A. (1989) Retrieval inhibition as an adaptive mechanism in human memory. In H.L. Roedigger III & F.I.M Craik (Eds.), Varieties of memory & consciousness (pp. 309-330). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  2. Books 
    Beck, C.A.J. & Sales, B.D. (2001). Family meditation: Facts, myths, and future prospects. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.


    Refrencing an Electronic Sources


    These sources are slightly different; because many electronic sources do not provide

    page numbers, you will want to cite either the paragraph number or the heading



    Cite the paragraph number after the year of publication and within the parenthesis.




    As Myers (2000, 5) aptly phrased it, "positive emotions are both an end-better to live fulfilled, with joy [and other positive emotions]-and a means to a more caring and healthy society. 

    Cite the heading information after the date of publication and before the page number.




    "The current system of managed care and the current approach to defining empirically supported treatments are shortsighted" (Beutler, 2000, Conclusion section, 1).


    Example for Electronic References

    • Article from a database:

    Holliday, R. E., & Hayes, B. K. (2000). Dissociating automatic and
    intentional processes in children’s eyewitness memory. Journal of
    Experimental Child Psychology, 75(1), 1-42. doi:10.1006/jecp.1999.2521

    • Stand-alone document, no author identified, no date:  

    GVU's 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2000, from Gvu/user_survey-1997-10 (Note that there are no periods at the end of an electronic citation.

    • Daily newspaper article, electronic version: 

    Hilts, P.J. (1999, February 16). In forecasting their emotions, most people flunk out. New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2000, from

    • A section in a Web document

    Cain, A., & Burris, M. (1999, April). Investigation of the use of mobile phones while driving. Retrieved from /its/mobile_phone_text.htm




    • Message from an online discussion group: 

    Lewandowski, A (2000, March 9). Changing names and the effects on professional status for newly married women [MSG7]. Message posted to

    NOTE: Email should be cited as a form of personal communication




    Herman, L.M., Kuczag, S.A., III, & Holder, M.D. (1993). Responses to anomalous gestural sequences by a language-trained dolphin: Evidence for processing of semantic relations and syntactic information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 122, 184-194.




        For more information










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