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APA Format Quick Guide

Note to students using Grammarly: See this resource on Grammarly's Place in the Writing Process

APA-7 delineates two versions: the student version and the professional version. Formatting elements except the title page, running head, and abstract are the same across both versions. All undergraduate students at Liberty University must use the student version and all graduate and doctoral students must use the professional version.

Have a formatting question?

Online Students

See a list of all services available to online students at www.liberty.edu/onlinewritingcenter

Residential Students

See a list of all services available to residential students at www.liberty.edu/writing

Undergraduate Students

  • Will follow APA-7’s “Student Version”
  • Simplified title page
  • No running head
  • No abstract

Detailed sample APA-7 paper with visual aids and indexed by topic for Undergraduate Students (pdf)

APA-7 template for Undergraduate Students (dotm)

Graduate & Doctoral Students

  • Will follow APA-7’s “Professional Version”
  • Expanded title page
  • Running head required (same on all pages)
  • Abstract required (unless otherwise specified in instructions)

Detailed sample APA-7 paper with visual aids and indexed by topic for Graduate & Doctoral Students (pdf)

APA-7 template for Graduate & Doctoral Students (dotm)

Discussion Board basic template for all grade levels (dotm)

A discussion board is designed to mimic a real-time discussion between you and your classmates (and sometimes professors), so it should be fairly formal (i.e., proper citations and academic tone), but most can be slightly informal in the sense that if you wanted to refer to something a classmate said, you’d just write something like “As Christy wrote in her initial thread, xyz” or “I appreciate how Mike clarified xyz in his response to Marsha.” Be sure to check with your professor for his or her expectations if you are required to cite your classmates’ content. Above is a basic template.  Remember to include citations to credit your sources, along with a corresponding reference list. Prepare your thread in MS Word and save that file, then use Control-A to select all content, Control-C to copy all content, and Control-V in Canvas to paste your content.

Helpful Resources

Video Tutorial links

Title Page

See the respective sample paper and template for your level of study (i.e., undergraduate or graduate/professional).


See the respective sample paper and template for your level of study (i.e., undergraduate or graduate/professional).

Main Body

  • Before beginning to write the body of your paper, center the paper’s title on the first line in title case in bold font, exactly as it appears on the title page. The title is now considered a Level 1 heading.
  • Your introductory paragraph/section, if you have one, will begin on the next line. Note that APA-7 expressly forbids using the term introduction as a heading; just type that paragraph under the paper’s title without any heading. Professors always trump APA, so if your professor requires a heading labeled Introduction, then include it. If your introduction section includes subheadings, those would be formatted as Level 2 headings.
  • APA-7 recommends only one space after closing punctuation in the body of the paper (whereas APA-6 recommended two).


  • APA papers use headings to separate paper sections and establish a hierarchy of information. Short papers (usually five pages or less in the body of the paper) may not have any headings unless required, but longer papers benefit from the organizational aspects of headings.
  • Always begin with Level 1 headings and apply the appropriate heading and subheading levels from there. Do not simply progress from Level 1 to Level 2 to Level 3.
  • For each heading, include at least two subsection headings or none at all. This follows the same principle as an outline: Section one would be divided into sections A and B or more; A cannot stand alone.
  • As such, heading levels align with outline levels: Capital Roman letters in an outline become Level 1 headings, Capital Arabic letters become Level 2 headings, etc.
  • Please note that some of the sample papers published by APA to demonstrate proper APA-7 format (including the “professional” version on pp. 50-60 of the APA-7 manual) depict the “Conclusion” section with a Level-2 heading. This is limited to empirical papers that are being submitted for publication in scholarly journals, as those conclusions pertain to the “Discussion” sections in such papers and are not conclusions of the overall papers themselves. Conclusions in academic papers at Liberty University will be Level 1 headings (including dissertations and theses, which are divided by chapters, unlike journal article manuscripts).
  • A paper may only have Level 1 headings if it is not divided into smaller subsections — or the content under some Level 1 headings may include two or more Level 2 headings (and some content under Level 2 headings may include two or more Level 3 headings).
  • See the sample APA papers for visuals of these heading levels:
    • Level 1: centered, boldface, in title case, with the content beginning on the line below
    • Level 2: left-aligned, boldface, in title case, with the content beginning on the line below
    • Level 3: left-aligned, boldface, italicized, in title case, with the content beginning on the line below
    • Level 4: indented, boldface, in title case with a period, then one space, and begin your content on the same line
    • Level 5: indented, boldface, italicized, in title case with a period, then one space, and begin your content on the same line

In-Text Citations

  • An in-text citation is used whenever another author’s work is directly quoted or paraphrased.
  • Citations for paraphrases use an author/date format: (Author, Publication Year), e.g. (Smith, 2007).
  • The citation for a direct quote should also include the page number: (Author, Year, p. #). If no page number is available (as in the case of an online webpage), list the paragraph: (Author, Year, para. 11). APA-7 expands this to including descriptive location details to get your reader to that content in longer non-paginated electronic resources such as e-books.  In such cases, provide a heading or section name. If the heading or section name is brief (generally four words or less) include the full name, without quotation marks (i.e., Owen, 2020,  Attachment Disorders section, para. 8).  If the heading or section name is too long (generally, more than four words), use an abbreviation of the heading or section, encapsulated in quotation marks. For example, for a section named “Peace and Power in Modern Day Relationships,” the citation would be (Owen, 2020, “Peace and Power” section, para. 3).
  • You can move information from the in-text citations to other parts of the sentence that the quote is part of as long as all required elements are present: e.g. Smith (2007) says, “arrows are sharp” (p. 8). However, the date follows the author’s/authors’ name(s), unless APA’s exception applies for subsequent citations of the same resource in a paragraph in which the first such citation was narrative in-text (not parenthetical; discussed further in Liberty University OWC’s sample APA papers).
  • The page number follows a direct quote, even if these elements are split within your sentence. For example, Smith and Harlow (2011) elaborated on this by suggesting that “paper planes can float” (p. 8).  Owen (2017) posited that “foxes can fly” (p. 17) in her dream analysis.
  • Any quotation longer than 39 words should be made into a freestanding “block” of text, with no quotation marks (see Liberty University OWC’s sample APA papers due to formatting limitations of this webpage).
  • The entire left margin of block quotes should be indented one-half inch as a whole “block” (with no extra indent on the first line).
  • The parenthetical citation with the page number on block quotes follows the quote and period, with no additional punctuation after it (unlike shorter quotes, where the parenthetical citation falls within the sentence itself with the period following it).

Discussion Board Posts

Discussion board posts at Liberty University are designed to mimic active classroom discussion among students (and sometimes the professor). As such, though the content within them should be semi-formal and provide credit to sources, when a student refers to content from another student’s discussion board comments, only a mild referral to the other student’s name and which post that content originated from is necessary. For example, as Mark stated in his initial thread, xyz.  Or as Charlotte stated in her response to Marienne, xyz. (No underlining would be used in the actual sentence used, of course).  This is the only exception permitted to “personal communications” and applies only within course discussion board replies in that class.

Special Rule Regarding Repeat Citations

APA-7 allows writers to cite their source only once per paragraph, provided the reader can discern where the other sentence(s) derived from. This requires specific structuring. For example: Owen (2020) claimed that “foxes can fly” (p. 17). She detailed their nocturnal habits. Her research gave critical insight into this population. In each of the second and third sentences above, the sentences were structured in such a way that the content clearly refers back to Owen’s work. In the case of Bible verses, it is easy for the reader to understand that subsequent citations of those came from whichever Bible version was cited earlier in that paragraph. For any subsequent verses cited in a paragraph that already has a full Bible citation, you can just use the verse itself. In each new paragraph (or if you change versions in the same paragraph), you will need to include the full citation. For example: God calls each of us to witness to others to “make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” (New American Standard Bible, 1971/1995, Ephesians 6:19-20). Mark 13:10 and Matthew 28:19 command us to preach to all nations and make disciples… There is no need to add the Bible version in that second sentence because the reader knows both of those verses refer to the same version of the Bible cited in the previous sentence.


  • The rules for Bible citations have changed completely; you must now cite the Bible version in the body of the paper and include it in your reference list. Please see the appropriate sample APA-7 paper for your level of study for a detailed discussion of this.
  • Note that APA-7 specifies to cite Bibles in “book formats” (p. 302) that are “treated as having no author.” Below are some examples of the hard copy references versus online references of some common versions. The citations are the same for both, as they contain the version name and the year(s) of publication. If you are using a different version, you will format it by following the examples given below (be sure to include a hanging indent, which this webpage cannot feature).
  • Scripture should be cited from one of the mainstream Bible versions (see list of some below). Study Bibles are generally NOT considered scholarly, as the notes within can be quite biased depending on the author of those notes, and thus Study Bibles should only be used sparingly by Divinity students as to exegetical projects.
  • When including a verse, place it in the locator position after the year (in place of the page number). For example, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (New American Standard Bible, 1971/1995, John 3:16). You can also introduce it in the text of the sentence itself: John 3:16 proclaims that “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (New American Standard Bible, 1971/1995).
Christian Standard Bible (Christian Standard Bible, 2017) Christian Standard Bible. (2017). Holman Bible Publishers.
English Standard (English Standard Bible, 2001/2016) English Standard Bible. (2016). Crossway Bibles. (Original work published 2001)   English Standard Bible. (2016). Literal Word. https://esv.literalword.com/ (Original work published 2001)
King James (King James Bible, 1769/2017). (King James Bible, 1769/2017, John 3:16). King James Bible. (2017). Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1769)   King James Bible. (2017). King James Bible Online. https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/ (Original work published 1769)
New American Standard (New American Standard Bible, 1971/1995) New American Standard Bible. (1995). Thomas Nelson. (Original work published 1971)   New American Standard Bible. (1995). Literal Word. https://nasb.literalword.com/ (Original work published 1971)
New International (New International Bible, 1978/2011) New International Bible. (2011). Zondervan. (Original work published 1978) New International Bible. (2011). The NIV Bible. https://www.thenivbible.com/ (Original work published 1978)
New King James (New King James Bible, 1982) New King James Bible. (1982). Thomas Nelson.
New Living Translation (New Living Translation Bible, 1996/2015) New Living Translation Bible. (2015). Tyndale House Publishing. (Original work published 1996)

Liberty University Class Lectures

Since the purpose and function of APA references is to ensure the reader has sufficient information to be able to locate the original source if necessary, include course details and credit Liberty University when referencing class lectures and PowerPoint presentations since the URL does not provide sufficient locator details itself. Italicize the name of the lecture itself. If the course has multiple lectures per week, you can include the week and lecture numbers; otherwise omit those elements. If you have a direct URL, use that (see the Peters reference below); otherwise use the URL to Liberty University’s Canvas homepage (the reference on the left below).  If the date is provided (see the Peters reference below), use that; otherwise use the year and semester that you took the course in (the reference on the left below):


When no presenter is named in the video itself, name Liberty University in the author’s position: Liberty University. (2021, Spring). BIOL 102: Human biology. Week one, lecture two: Name of class lecture. https://canvas.liberty.edu


When a presenter is provided, name that person in the author’s position and include Liberty University in the publisher’s position after the name of the lecture: Peters, C. (2012). COUN 506, Week one, lecture two: Defining integration: Key concepts. Liberty University. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/definingintegration-keyconcepts/id427907777?i=1000092371727



  • Center the word “References” (in bold font but without quotation marks) on the top line of a new page following your conclusion.  This term is also now regarded as a Level 1 heading.  If you have only one resource to cite in the entire paper, APA authorizes the use of singular “Reference.”
  • Use hanging indents (the first line of each entry should be left-justified, with lines two+ indented ½” from the left margin).
  • Alphabetize all entries by the first word in each (usually the first author’s last name for each).
  • Note that you must include a comma after the author’s name that precedes the ampersand in the reference list, even when there are only two authors.  This does not apply to citations in the body of the paper.
  • There should only be one space after periods in the reference list entries, just as in the body of the paper.
  • If a work has more than 20 authors, list the first 19 followed by an ellipsis (…).  Include the last author’s name immediately after the ellipsis as the final author mentioned.  Do not include an ampersand (&) in references with 20 or more authors.
  • Note that APA-7 allows writers to superscript the suffixes of ordinal numbers, as long as the writer is consistent throughout (see section 6.35 of the APA-7 manual).  The examples included in the resources in this Quick Guide include superscripted suffixes for all book edition numbers, in accordance with APA-7’s option to do so.
  • Do include reference entries for classical works including the Bible.
  • Do not include reference entries for personal communication.
  • Do not include a period after a URL or DOI.
  • Note that the issue number of a journal article should be connected/attached to the volume number — e.g., 12(8).  The volume number should be italicized, but the attached parentheses and issue number should not.
  • Check Google Scholar or Crossref for DOIs of all articles published since 2007, if one is not readily denoted on the article itself.
  • Format all DOI entries in URL format (https://doi.org/xx.xxxxxxx).
  • Omit the publisher city and state in most cases (exception: conferences and symposiums).
  • Only include the access date for online content that is likely to change (such as wikis).
  • Do not include hyperlinks that require log-on credentials to access, unless required by your assignment. This includes OpenAthens links obtained from searches in the Liberty University library databases. APA requires a DOI number whenever available, or a direct URL if a DOI is not available. If neither are available, do not add any other kind of link. Check Google Scholar for hidden DOIs and direct URLs (which will appear in the right column of your search results (see example below; click on it to get the full direct URL):
  • See the links at the top of this page for expansive reference entry examples.

Material on this page adapted from the Seventh Edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

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