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The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual provides important formatting guidelines that you need to follow. In this article, we’ll tell you how to properly format an APA header, cover page, abstract, and reference page in your research paper.
Note that we’ll be looking at the formatting guidelines provided by the 7th edition of the APA Style guide, commonly referred to as APA 7. This edition came out in October 2019, replacing the 6th edition that dated back to 2009.
The APA format is used while writing academic literature such as research papers, essays, and theses. It is provided by the American Psychological Association (APA) as a style guide and is used commonly in the fields of behavioral and social sciences.
The APA formatting guidelines are described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, APA’s official style guide. It is widely used by other scientific journals in its entirety or with some variations to publish research articles and papers.
Universities and colleges also use the APA format, so students need to adhere to the formatting guidelines while writing a college paper or essay. As we’ll see in an update given by the APA 7 format, the style guidelines are often a bit relaxed for college students.
The APA Manual lays down a standard set of guidelines that remove colloquial usage and bias from academic writing. Since all researchers follow common rules of writing and formatting, it becomes easy for everyone to read and understand scientific papers.
Plus, the APA formatting style is primarily known for its directness and simplicity. By ensuring a logical flow in a research paper or journal article, the APA format helps the reader focus on the content of the document.
So the simple answer to this question is, we use APA formatting for research papers because it reduces confusion and improves clarity. It brings uniformity to scientific writing and enables the reader to comprehend academic documents with ease.
The APA Style format is used by researchers and students to write research papers, journal articles, college papers, and dissertations. You can also use the APA Style in textbooks, websites, PowerPoint presentations, or conference posters.
While the style guide can be used to write academic papers in any discipline, it is mostly used in the following disciplines:
There are some general APA formatting rules you need to follow throughout your paper. Here are the most important style guidelines from the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual:
APA recommends the following fonts:
Guidelines regarding page formatting appear in the second chapter of the APA Publication Manual. The general structure for research papers under the APA format includes a title page, abstract, text, and references.
College students don’t have the compulsion to add an abstract in their paper, but the particular university guidelines provide the final say on this matter. An APA Style paper usually follows this order:
Aside from these major sections of your paper, we’ll also take a look at how to format APA headers, headings, and subheadings.
The cover page, also called the title page, is the first page in an APA Style paper or essay. This page isn’t absolutely necessary for college students, but some universities may ask their students to include it. Ask your instructor for clarification on whether you should include the cover page in your paper.
The APA 7 cover page has slight variations for student papers and professional papers. Student papers should include details of their course and college, while professional papers include an author note.
The title page in an APA Style student paper should include the following elements:
The APA cover page in a professional paper includes:
According to the APA 7th edition, the title page should be formatted as follows:
There are no strict rules regarding the length of titles under the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual. But the style guide does recommend that the title shouldn’t be more than 12 words in length.
It’s also recommended to keep the title concise and to the point, so you should remove any extra words. Here’s an example of an ideal APA title:
A Focused Analysis of the Patterns of Migration Between England and Colombia
Migration Patterns Between England and Colombia
So, make sure you keep the title short and focused, and ensure that it includes the main search term for your paper. Keywords are important!
The APA page header appears within the top margin of the page. It consists of a page number and a running head, but student papers don’t have to include the running head.
So, the APA header for a student paper only contains the page number. For professional papers, the header consists of both the running head and page number.
A running head is a shortened version of your title. If the title is already short, you can place the whole title in the running head. But if your title is long, you need to cut out the extra words and use only the most important words in the running head.
Title: Examining the Wealth of Religious Figures: A Global Study of How Economics, Faith, and Language Intersect
Running head: WEALTH OF RELIGIOUS FIGURES
While the APA running head isn’t a compulsion for student papers, some course instructors or universities may ask you to include it. So it’s always a good idea to get clarity on the paper format from your course instructor.
These are the formatting guidelines for an APA header:
Any word processing program like Google Docs or Word has the header feature that allows you to customize your header. Use this feature to create the running head and page number for your APA header.
Apply the same formatting to all pages in your APA Style paper, as the header appears on every page.
APA headings and subheadings are important to organize your text and improve your paper’s readability. An APA style paper has five possible levels of headings. You can use them to order your content into relevant sections.
These are the APA format guidelines for headings and subheadings in your paper:
An abstract is a one-paragraph summary of a research paper, about 150–250 words in length. It contains the objective or problem statement of the paper and includes information on the research methods, results, and conclusions of your research.
An abstract tells the reader what they’ll find in the paper and helps them decide whether or not they should read it. So, your abstract should be well-written. But more importantly, it needs to be formatted according to the APA format guidelines.
The APA abstract page must adhere to specific formatting requirements for indentation, spacing, section label, page margins, font type, and running head. The APA abstract must be formatted as follows:
An APA abstract isn’t required in student papers, but it is necessary in professional papers.
Aside from the general guidelines we saw above, there aren’t any specific APA format guidelines for the body of your paper. In case of an essay, the body will be your essay itself. If you’re writing a lab report, then the main body will be divided into different sections.
In a research paper, the body is divided into introduction, method, results, discussion, and references. Each of these sections begin on a new page, with a section label that is in bold and center.
These are the APA formatting guidelines for your text:
Also called the reference list, this is where all the cited sources in the paper are listed. The citations differ for each source type. The APA reference page as a whole also has specific APA formatting guidelines.
Mention the section label “References” in bold and center at the top of the page. Start the entries in the next line, flush left. Here are the formatting guidelines for an APA reference page:
The APA provides different format guidelines for specific document types such as articles, journals, and websites. For a detailed study of how to cite sources and include them in the APA reference page, visit this article.
Using graphics is a great way to communicate important data in your paper. But in an APA Style paper, there are certain rules you need to follow for inserting tables and figures.
Although they present information differently, the APA style guide has similar formatting rules for them. Tables and figures under the 7th edition of the Publication Manual are labeled with numbers followed by titles. Under the graphic, you may also add a note.
APA formatting guidelines help you create clean and clear graphics with no unnecessary flourish. So keep in mind that you should include graphical elements only when they are necessary for better comprehension.
Here is how you can create a properly formatted table under the APA guidelines:
Rather than using the spacebar to type your data, use the table feature of Google Docs or Word to create an APA Style table in your paper.
For an APA formatted paper, any graphical representation aside from a table is classified as a figure. This includes charts, graphs, pie charts, drawings, maps, or any other visual infographics.
Follow these rules to properly format your APA figures:
Number your tables and figures in the order they appear in your APA Style paper. You can add three types of notes under your table or figure to explain a point not covered in the graphic itself.
Hopefully, this article will help you format your APA Style paper perfectly. But in case you still doubt your work, you know where to get it edited and proofread!
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