The APA style of formatting refers to the style guidelines documented by the American Psychological Association. This comprehensive guideline makes us familiar about the structure of an APA paper and its overall writing style. Using APA format is very helpful when most of the sources in the paper are from published journals and frequently published works. Though APA style of formatting was basically developed to standardize scientific writing, it has found widespread acceptance in social and behavioral sciences, education, and business fields also.
APA style is the key for properly formatting various research and academic publications. Beginners might face some difficulties in understanding the APA style of formatting. But, with gradual use, you become familiar with this style. A few basic rules of APA style are discussed below.
Basic Rules of APA Style of Formatting
- Set one inch margin on all sides.
- The font of your text should be a serif font that is clearly readable, most preferably Times New Roman, and the font size should be 12 pt.
- Text alignment should be flush left (i.e., the right side should look ragged).
- Line spacing should be set as double-spaced throughout the document including title page, abstract, main body, references, tables, figures, etc.
- There should be a running head (short title of your paper) at the top of every page. It should be set flush left, and the page numbers should be set flush right. Ensure that the running head does not exceed 50 characters (including spacing and punctuation).
- The first line indent of every paragraph should be half inch.
- APA paper consists of four main sections: title page, abstract, main body and references.
- Title page should consist of the title of your paper, author name(s), institutional affiliation(s), author note. The title should not contain any abbreviations.
- The Abstract should begin on a new page. The word limit for the Abstract is 150-250 words (may vary as per specific publications).
- The main body of your paper should begin on a new page. It includes Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion and References section. Appendix can also be included if applicable.
- References should begin on a new page. It should include all the sources, which have been cited in the paper. The entries should be sorted alphabetically by the surname of the first author. First line should be flush left, and additional lines should have a hanging indent.
- Each Table should begin on a new page after the Reference section.
- Each Figure should begin on a new page after the Tables.
The basic guidelines presented here provide you with just an outline of the APA style of formatting for a research paper. Every aspect of APA style has much more detailed specifications that we will discuss elaborately in our following posts.