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How to Write an Essay in APA Format
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.
What Is APA Format?
Apa essay format basics.
- Steps to Follow
Frequently Asked Questions
If your instructor has asked you to write an APA format essay, it might at first seem like a daunting task, especially if you are accustomed to using another style such as MLA or Chicago. But you can master the rules of APA essay format, too.
An essay is one type of paper that can be written in APA format; others include lab reports, experimental reports, and case studies. Before you begin, familiarize yourself with some of the basic guidelines for writing a paper in APA format. Of course, it will also be important to follow any other formatting instructions that are part of your assignment.
How do you write an essay in APA format? The basic elements you need to include are:
- A title page
- An abstract
- An introduction, main body, and conclusion
- A reference section
- Proper APA formatting with regard to margins, layout, spacing, titles, and indentations
This article discusses how to write an essay in APA format, including the basic steps you should follow and tips for how to get started.
Whether you’re taking an introductory or graduate-level psychology class, chances are strong that you will have to write at least one paper during the course of the semester. In almost every case, you will need to write your paper in APA format, the official publication style of the American Psychological Association . It is also used for academic journals.
Such rules are generally the same whether you are writing a high school essay, college essay, or professional essay for publication.
APA format is used in a range of disciplines including psychology , education, and other social sciences. The format dictates presentation elements of your paper including spacing, margins, and how the content is structured.
Most instructors and publication editors have strict guidelines when it comes to how your format your writing. Not only does adhering to APA format allow readers to know what to expect from your paper, but it also means that your work will not lose critical points over minor formatting errors.
While the formatting requirements for your paper might vary depending on your instructor's directions, writing APA essay format means you will most likely need to include a title page, abstract, introduction, body, conclusion, and reference sections.
Your APA format essay should have a title page . This title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and your school affiliation. In some instances, your teacher might require additional information such as the course title, instructor name, and the date.
- The title of your paper should be concise and clearly describe what your paper is about.
- Your title can extend to two lines, but it should be no longer than 12 words.
An abstract is a brief summary of your paper that immediately follows the title page. It is not required for student papers, according to APA style. However, your instructor may request one.
If you include an abstract , it should be no more than 100 to 200 words, although this may vary depending upon the instructor requirements.
Your essay should also include a reference list with all of the sources that were cited in your essay,
- The reference section is located at the end of your paper.
- References should be listed alphabetically by the last name of the author.
- References should be double-spaced.
- Any source that is cited in your paper should be included in your reference section.
When writing in APA essay format, the text will include the actual essay itself: The introduction, body, and conclusion.
- There should be uniform margins of at least one inch at the top, bottom, left, and right sides of your essay.
- The text should be in Times New Roman size 12 font or another serif typeface that is easily readable.
- Your paper should be double-spaced.
- Every page should include a page number in the top right corner.
- The first word of each paragraph in your paper should be indented one-half inch.
For professional papers (usually not student papers), every page of the essay also includes a running head at the top left. The running head is a shortened form of the title, often the first few words, and should be no more than 50 characters (including spaces).
Steps to a Successful APA Format Essay
In addition to ensuring that you cite your sources properly and present information according to the rules of APA style, there are a number of things you can do to make the writing process a little bit easier.
Choose a Topic
Start by choosing a good topic to write about. Ideally, you want to select a subject that is specific enough to let you fully research and explore the topic, but not so specific that you have a hard time finding sources of information.
If you choose something too specific, you may find yourself with not enough to write about. If you choose something too general, you might find yourself overwhelmed with information.
Research Your Topic
Start doing research as early as possible. Begin by looking at some basic books and articles on your topic to help develop it further. What is the question you are going to answer with your essay? What approach will you take to the topic?
Once you are more familiar with the subject, create a preliminary source list of potential books, articles, essays, and studies that you may end up using in your essay.
Remember, any source used in your essay must be included in your reference section. Conversely, any source listed in your references must be cited somewhere in the body of your paper.
Write Your Rough Draft
With research in hand, you are ready to begin. Some people like to create an outline to organize their argument prior to drafting. You may want to start with a very rough outline, and then add details.
Once you have a detailed outline, the next step is to translate it from notes to complete sentences and paragraphs. Remember, this is a first draft. It doesn't have to be perfect.
As you write your paper in APA essay format, be sure to keep careful track of the sources that you cite.
How do you start an APA paper? Your paper should begin with an introduction that includes a thesis statement that presents your main ideas, points, or arguments. Your introduction should start on the third page of your paper (after the title page and abstract). The title of your paper should be centered, bolded, and typed in title case at the top of the page.
Review and Revise
After you have prepared a rough draft of your essay, it's time to revise, review, and prepare your final draft. In addition to making sure that your writing is cohesive and supported by your sources, you should also check carefully for typos, grammar errors, and possible formatting mistakes.
When citing information or quotations taken from an interview, APA format requires that you cite the source, how the information was collected, and the date of the interview. They should not be included in the reference section, however, because they are not something that can be located by a reader in any published source or searchable database.
Instead, the information should be cited parenthetically in the main body of the text. For example: “There was an increase in the number of college students who screened positive for depression/anxiety” (R. Heathfield, personal communication, May 9, 2021).
If the essay is in a chapter of a book, edited collection, or anthology, APA format states that you should cite the last name, first name, title of essay, title of collection, publisher, year, and page range. For example: Smith, John, "The Light House," A Book of Poems , editing by Peter Roberts, Allworth Press, 2005, pp. 20-25.
According to APA format, a two-part essay is formatted the same as an essay, however, you'll need to create two title pages.
If you're including a short direct quote in your APA-format essay, you will need to cite the author, year of publication, and page number (p.) or page number span (pp.). Quotations longer than 40 words should omit the quotation marks and be put in the text using block quotation formatting, on its own line and indented 1/2 inch from the left margin.
The cover page or "title page" in APA essay format should always include the title of your paper, your name, and school affiliation as well as the course title, instructor name, and date, if requested by your teacher.
Nagda S. How to write a scientific abstract. J Indian Prosthodont Soc. 2013;13(3):382-383. doi:10.1007/s13191-013-0299-x
American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2019.
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format / APA Sample Papers
APA Sample Papers
Ever wonder how to format your research paper in APA style? If so, you’re in luck! The team at EasyBib.com has put together an example paper to help guide you through your next assignment. (Actually, looking for MLA? Here’s a page on what is MLA format .)
The featured example is a research paper on the uses of biometrics to inform design decisions in the tech industry, authored by our UX Research Intern Peace Iyiewuare. Like most APA style papers, it includes an APA title page , tables, and several references and APA in-text citations to scholarly journals relevant to its topic. References are an important aspect of scientific research papers, and formatting them correctly is critical to getting a good grade.
This paper follows the formatting rules specified in the 6th edition of The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (the APA is not directly associated with this guide) . We’ve left comments and tips throughout the document, so you’ll know the specific rules around how to format titles, spacing, and font, as well as the citations on the APA reference page .
The reference list needs special care, as it demonstrates to the reader that you have accurately portrayed your outside sources and have given credit to the appropriate parties. Be sure to check our full APA citation guide for more information on paper formatting and citing sources in APA style. There is also a guide on APA footnotes in case that is your preferred form of citation.
Download the APA Visual Guide
When citations are done, don’t forget to finish your paper off with a proofread—EasyBib Plus’s plagiarism and grammar check can help! Got a misspelled adverb ? Missed capitalizing a proper noun ? Struggling with subject-verb agreement ? These are just a few things our checker could help you spot in your paper.
D. Complete Sample APA Paper
We’ve included a full student paper below to give you an idea of what an essay in APA format looks like, complete with a title page, paper, reference list, and index. If you plan to include an APA abstract in your paper, see the Professional Paper for an example.
If you’re looking for an APA format citation generator, we’ve got you covered. Use EasyBib.com! Our APA format machine can help you create every reference for your paper.
Below is an example of a student APA format essay. We also have PDF versions of both a student paper and a professional paper linked below.
See Student Paper See Professional Paper
Using Biometrics to Evaluate Visual Design
Jane Lisa Dekker
Art Department, Northern California Valley State University
UXAD 272: Strategic Web Design
Professor Juan Liu, PhD
January 29, 2020
A vast amount of research has been conducted regarding the importance of visual design, and its role as a mediator of user’s experience when browsing a site or interacting with an interface. In the literature, visual design is one aspect of website quality. Jones and Kim (2010) define website quality as “the perceived quality of a retail website that involves a [user’s] perceptions of the retailer’s website and comprises consumer reactions towards such attributes as information, entertainment/enjoyment, usability, transaction capabilities, and design aesthetics” (p. 632). They further examined the impact web quality and retail brand trust has on purchase intentions. Additional research examining e-commerce sites has shown web quality has an impact on both initial and continued purchase intention (Kuan, Bock, & Vathanophas, 2008), as well as consumer satisfaction (Lin, 2007). Moreso, research on the relationship between visual design and perceived usability (Stojmenovic, Pilgrim, & Lindgaard, 2014) has revealed a positive correlation between the two. As users’ ratings of visual quality increase, their ratings of perceived usability follows a similar trend. Although this research spans various domains, the reliance on self-report measures to gauge concepts like visual design and web quality is prevalent throughout much of the literature.
Although some self-report scales are validated within the literature, there are still issues with the use of self-report questionnaires. One is the reliance on the honesty of the participant. This tends to be more of an issue in studies related to questionnaires that measure characteristics of the participant, rather than objective stimuli. More relevant to this study is the issue of introspection and memory. Surveys are often distributed after a task is completed, and its accuracy is dependent on the ability of the participant to remember their experience during the study. Multiple research studies have shown that human memory is far from static. This can
be dangerous if a researcher chooses to solely rely on self-report methods to test a hypothesis. We believe these self-report methods in tandem with biometric methods can help ensure the validity of the questionnaires, and provide information beyond the scope of self-report scales.
We know from previous research that the quality of websites mediates many aspects of e-commerce, and provides insight as to how consumers view the webpages in general. However, simply knowing a webpage is perceived as lower quality doesn’t give insight as to what aspects of a page are disliked by a user. Additionally, it’s possible that the user is misremembering aspects of the webpage or being dishonest in their assessment. Using eye tracking metrics, galvanic skin response, and facial expression measures in tandem with a scale aimed at measuring visual design quality has a couple of identifiable benefits. Using both can potentially identify patterns amongst the biometric measures and the questionnaire, which would strengthen the validity of the results. More so, the eye tracking data has the potential to identify patterns amongst websites of lower or higher quality.
If found, these patterns can be used to evaluate particular aspects of a page that are impacting the quality of a webpage. Overall, we are interested in answering two questions:
Research Question 1 : Can attitudinal changes regarding substantial website redesigns be captured using biometric measures?
Research Question 2 : How do biometric measures correlate with self-reported measures of visual appeal?
Answering these questions has the potential to provide a method of justification for design changes, ranging from minor tweak to complete rebrands. There is not an easy way for companies to quantitatively analyze visual design decisions. A method for doing so would help companies evaluate visual designs before implementation in order to cost-justify them. To this end, we hope to demonstrate that biometric measurements can be used with questionnaires to verify and validate potential design changes a company or organization might want to implement.
By examining data from test subjects during a brief exposure to several websites, we hoped to explore the relationship between the self-reported evaluation of visual design quality and key biometric measurements of a subject’s emotional valence and arousal. Subjects were exposed to ten pairs of websites before and after a substantial visual design change and asked to evaluate the website based on their initial impressions of the site’s visual design quality using the VisAWI-S scale, as shown in Table 1.
During this assessment we collected GSR, facial expressions (limited by errors in initial study configuration), pupillary response, and fixation data using iMotions software coupled with a Tobii eye tracker, Shimmer GSR device, and Affdex facial expression analysis toolkit. This data was analyzed, in Table 2, to discover relationships between the independent and dependent variables, as well as relationships between certain dependent variables.
Jones, C., & Kim, S. (2010). Influences of retail brand trust, off-line patronage, clothing involvement and website quality on online apparel shopping intention: Online apparel shopping intention. International Journal of Consumer Studies , 34 (6), 627–637. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2010.00871.x
Kuan, H.-H., Bock, G.-W., & Vathanophas, V. (2008). Comparing the effects of website quality on customer initial purchase and continued purchase at e-commerce websites. Behaviour & Information Technology , 27 (1), 3–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/01449290600801959
Lin, H.-F. (2007). The impact of website quality dimensions on customer satisfaction in the B2C e-commerce context. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence , 18 (4), 363–378. https://doi.org/10.1080/14783360701231302
Stojmenovic, M., Pilgrim, C., & Lindgaard, G. (2014). Perceived and objective usability and visual appeal in a website domain with a less developed mental model. Proceedings of the 26 th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference on Designing Futures: The Future of Design , 316–323. https://doi.org/10.1145/2686612.2686660
APA Formatting Guide
- Annotated Bibliography
- Block Quotes
- et al Usage
- In-text Citations
- Multiple Authors
- Page Numbers
- Parenthetical Citations
- Reference Page
- Sample Paper
- APA 7 Updates
- View APA Guide
- Book Chapter
- Journal Article
- Magazine Article
- Newspaper Article
- Website (no author)
- View all APA Examples
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APA Citation Examples
Other Citation Styles
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APA Style Manuscript Guidelines
Apa style (7th ed.) manuscript guidelines.
APA Style provides guidelines on how your paper should appear on the page. It involves formatting margins, line spacing, the title page, body pages, and reference list.
Notes on the Sample Title Page
- In the header of the document at the right margin, insert the page number.
- In the upper half of the page, three to four lines down from the header, provide the title of the paper in bold, title case.
- Double-space the title page and entire paper, adding an additional double-spaced line between the title and the “byline”—author name.
- Provide the byline and related information in regular font. First provide the author’s name and affiliated university.
- Next, provide the course number and name (Course Number: Name), the professor for the course, and due date.
- Always check with your instructor about additional information required on this page.
More Title Page Examples
- Open a sample title page here .
- Formatting an APA Style (7th ed.) Paper and Title Page in Microsoft Word Video
Notes on this sample body page
- The font should be the same throughout the paper. Acceptable fonts include 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 12-point Times New Roman, 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, 11-point Georgia, or 10-point Computer Modern.
- Use one-inch margins all around.
- The text should align with the left margin and be uneven along the right margin with one space between words and after punctuation.
- Double-space the entire paper without extra spacing between paragraphs.
- Indent the beginning of each paragraph one half-inch, which is typically one click of the Tab key.
More Body Page Examples
- Open a sample body page here .
- Open a sample APA Style research paper here
Notes on this sample references list for student papers:
- The references list begins on a new page at the end of the paper before any tables or appendices.
- The right margin of the header provides the page number, continued from the previous page.
- The word References is centered on the first line under the header in bold font.
- The citations are formatted using a “hanging indent” where the second and subsequent lines are indented one half-inch under the first line in order to improve readability.
- Double-space the reference list, including within a reference entry.
- Two or more works by the same author are ordered chronologically by publication date.
- References with the same first author and a different second author are alphabetized by the second author.
More Reference List Examples
- Open a sample reference list here .
- Formatting an APA Style (7th ed.) Reference List in Microsoft Word Video
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APA Sample Paper
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- APA Style 7th edition
- APA Title Page (7th edition) | Template for Students & Professionals
APA Title Page (7th edition) | Template for Students & Professionals
Published on November 6, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on January 17, 2024.
APA provides different guidelines for student and professional papers. The student version of the APA title page should include the following information (double spaced and centered):
- Author name
- Department and university name
- Course number and name
- Instructor name
- Due date of the assignment
The professional title page also includes an author note (flushed left), but not a course name, instructor name, or due date.
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Table of contents
Title page example (student and professional version), institutional affiliation, course information, author note, page header, including an image on the title page.
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Write an informative, striking title that summarizes the topic of your paper. Try to keep the title focused and use relevant keywords.
Place the title three or four lines down from the top of the paper. Center align and bold it. Don’t forget to use title case capitalization (capitalize the first letter of each word, except small words such as articles and short prepositions).
Write the author’s name under the paper title (leave a blank line in between). Give their full names (first name, middle initial(s) and last name), but don’t include titles (Dr., Prof.) or degrees (Ph.D., MSc).
Multiple authors on the title page
List the authors in order of their contribution. If there are two authors, separate their names with the word “and”, like this:
If there are more than two authors, separate their names with a comma. Only write “and” before the last author, like this:
Write the author’s affiliation on the next line under the author names. Students should specify the department and institution where they’re attending school. Professional researchers should specify the department and institution where they conducted their research.
Multiple authors with different affiliations
Use superscript numbers on the author line to indicate which institution they’re affiliated with. Don’t use superscript numbers if all authors are affiliated with the same institution (and department).
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- Missing commas and periods
- Incorrect usage of “et al.”
- Ampersands (&) in narrative citations
- Missing reference entries
On a student title page, provide information about the course. List the following information on separate (double spaced) lines under the author’s affiliation:
- Assignment’s due date
For professional papers, you may include an author note. This note may contain the author’s ORCID iD, affiliation changes, disclosures of conflicts of interest, brief acknowledgments, and contact information (in that specific order). Present this information in separate paragraphs.
Place the author note on the bottom half of the page. Center the label “Author note” and apply bold styling. The paragraphs in the author note are left-aligned. The first line of each new paragraph is indented.
For more information about formatting the author note, see section 2.7 of the APA Publication Manual.
For a student title page, the page header consists of just a page number in the top-right corner. There is no need for a running head (as was the case in APA 6th edition).
A professional title page does have a running head. The running head is an abbreviated version of the paper title in all capital letters. The maximum length is 50 characters (counting spaces).
Images are not usually included on an APA title page, and APA does not provide any guidelines for doing so. It’s usually viewed as unprofessional to include an image, since the title page is there to provide information, not for decoration.
If you do decide to include an image on your title page, make sure to check whether you need permission from the creator of the image. Include a note directly underneath the image acknowledging where it comes from, beginning with the word “ Note .” (italicized and followed by a period):
- If you found the image online or in another source, include a citation and copyright attribution .
- If it’s an image you created yourself (e.g., a photograph you took, an infographic you designed), explain this (e.g., “Photograph taken by the author.”).
Don’t give the image a label, title, or number. Only images within the text itself are labeled as figures .
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
Streefkerk, R. (2024, January 17). APA Title Page (7th edition) | Template for Students & Professionals. Scribbr. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/apa-title-page/
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