APA Style: General Guidelines

We have spent the last couple of days talking about some of the intricacies of APA style citations. APA — or American Psychological Association — style is the format you will most likely be asked to use when writing papers for classes that fall under the categories of science or social science. So far, we have talked about the proper notation of in-text citations and the formatting of your references section. Today, wrapping up our three-part series on APA style, we will discuss the overall formatting of a paper under current APA guidelines.

First off, your entire paper needs to be double-spaced, in a legible and reasonably sized font (11 or 12 pt. Times New Roman is usually best), and have one inch margins on all sides of your standard 8 ½ by 11 inch piece of paper. I know that these items seem pretty basic, but many students inadvertently forget to set margins appropriately or double-spacing and are docked points unnecessarily. Don’t be one of them.

Secondly, your paper needs to have a separate title page. This, obviously, is the first page of your paper and should include the following information, double-spaced and centered on the page:

Title of Your Paper

Your Name

Your Class, for instance Psychology 100

Your Professor’s Name

Your University

The next thing that it is pertinent you do is number your pages! The page numbers should be placed in the top right corner of your paper with your title page being page one and your reference page being your final page number. If you are working in Microsoft Word, this is done under the insert menu. Within this menu, click Page Numbers… and enter the alignment and position where you want your numbers placed. While this may seem nit-picky, numbering your pages actually safe-guards you in the event that your paper is accidentally bound wrong or should a page fly away on your way to class.

Any research paper, and specifically one in APA style, should be in third person. This means you never, ever say:

“I found that grass is green.”

Instead, you say:

“The study found that the grass is green.”

This makes you sound more professional and authoritative.

This concludes our three-part series on APA style formatting. Tomorrow we begin our series on MLA style formatting. Happy writing!