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APA Citation Guide: Formatting

This page will walk you through setting up an APA paper manually and introduce you to relevant formatting rules.


General Formatting Guidelines:

  • Your paper should be double-spaced with default 1” margins
  • Student papers do NOT need a running head or abstract for the 7th ed. (professional papers do)
  • Do include a separate title page using the appropriate format shown on the next page
  • Page numbers should be at the top right of the header on all pages (including the title page)
  • Repeat the full title and subtitle of the paper (centered, bold) before beginning the main body
  • The title is considered a first level heading. If you need more sections, format them like the title
  • Subheadings are formatted like the paper title only flush left instead of centered
  • In-text citations usually consist of the author or authors’ last names and the year of publication
  • Include a page number (e.g. p. 50) or paragraph number (e.g. para. 50) only if directly quoting
  • If the quotation has fewer than 40 words, enclose it with double quotation marks within your text
  • For quotations of 40 or more words, omit quotation marks and use a block quotation (indented)
  • Your reference list should be titled References (centered) and should begin on a new page
  • Order references alphabetically by the first word (usually the author’s last name)
  • The first line of an APA citation should be flush with the left margin. All other lines are indented

Parts of an APA Paper:

A student APA paper is usually made up of 3 parts or sections:

  1. the title page,
  2. the main body, and
  3. the reference list.

Acceptable Fonts:

The 7th edition allows for a wider variety of fonts than the 6th edition, which required the use of 12 pt. Times New Roman font. Students now have the following font options:

  • 11 pt. Calibri
  • 11 pt. Arial
  • 10 pt. Lucida Sans Unicode
  • 12 pt. Times New Roman
  • 11 pt. Georgia

Be consistent and use the chosen font throughout your paper. The only exception is that if you choose a serif font like Times New Roman, you will need to use a sans-serif font within tables and figures.


Five Heading Levels:

If you need to divide a long paper into sections, APA instructs you how to format up to five heading levels. Students may only use the first two or three, while professional manuscripts will almost certainly use all five. The title is now considered a first-level heading (you do not need a heading for the introduction). If you need to subdivide these, you can move to heading level two, which is the same as level one except flush left instead of centered.

Follow the format for headings and text shown below:

Heading Level One

Text begins as a new paragraph.

Heading Level Two

Text begins as a new paragraph.

Heading Level Three

Text begins as a new paragraph.

Heading Level Four. Text begins here.

Heading Level Five. Text begins here.