APA Formatting - Quick Guide


  • 1’’ margins
  • Times New Roman size 12 font
  • Double-spaced
  • Left-aligned running head at the top of every page in caps; include "Running head" before the title
    On subsequent pages, include the title without the words "Running head."


  • Use active voice.
  • Be specific and concise; avoid poetic and figurative language.
  • Use past or present perfect tense for literature reviews and description, if the discussion is of past events. Use past tense when referring to results and experiments previously conducted. (see pp. 65-66)

Title Page

  • Running head and page number in title
  • Center the Title, Your Name, and the Institution Name in the upper-middle of the page.


  • Should be on the second page of the document and contain running head and page number.
  • The word "Abstract" should be centered on the first line.
  • Brief, comprehensive summary of paper about 150-250 words.
  • Do not indent the first line.
  • The abstract is not an introduction and will not contain any citations; see pp. 25-27 for what types of information to include.

Main Body


  • APA uses heading to separate paper sections. Always use headings in order, beginning with level 1.
  • For each section, include at least two subsection headings or none at all (see p. 62)
    • First level: centered, boldface, uppercase and lowercase heading
    • Second level: left-aligned, boldface, uppercase and lowercase heading
    • Third level: indented, boldface, lowercase heading with a period
    • Fourth level: indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period
    • Fifth level: indented, italicized, lowercase heading with a period


In-Text Citations

  • Used whenever another author's work is directly quoted or paraphrased
  • Citations use an author, date format: (Author, Publication Year)
  • Citation for direct quotes should include the page number
  • Any quotation longer than 39 words should be made into a freestanding block of text with quotation marks removed (see p. 171)
  • If no author is given, use a shortened version of the title
  • If publication date is unknown, use "n.d." in its place
  • For electronic sources that don't include page numbers, use paragraph numbers (see pp. 171-172)
  • For works with three or more authors, list all in the first citation. For subsequent citations, list the first author and "et al."
  • Two types of sources are cited only in-text: classical works and personal communications. The Bible is considered a classical book in APA. When citing in-text, include the reference and version used. (see pp. 171-174)

Reference List

  • NOTE: The second line and all subsequent lines of each item on the reference list should be indented. Please see the APA Sample Paper for an example of a properly formatted reference page.

  • The reference list should be double spaced.

  • Book

    Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.

  • Article in a periodical

    Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue
           number), pages.

  • Article from an online periodical

    Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Online Periodical, volume number

           (issue number if available). Retrieved from

  • Website

    Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of document. Retrieved from

            http://Web address

"Downloadable version of the OWL Purdue information on APA citations

Visit the OWL Purdue site

Back to top