Skip to Main Content


Overview of APA style and formatting guidelines

Check out the quick guide from Academic Writer on the basics of formatting an APA paper, just click on the screenshot below:

Basic Paper Setup

Learn how to set up an APA Style paper, including setting the typeface, line spacing, margins, and page header.

Academic Writer

© 2020 American Psychological Association.

SAMPLE: The following pdf was produced by The OWL at Purdue.  It is a sample APA paper that clearly demonstrates paper sections, formatting, and guidelines. This is an effective model to use when formatting your own paper.  Also check out the paper templates available under the Writing Center at Academic Writer.


OWL Sample APA Paper

Basic Format (Updated to 7th ed., 2020)

Your paper should include four major sections.  These sections include:

Title page - This page should be centered horizontally and vertically.  It should include at least the title of your paper, your name and institution.  Your instructor may want you to provide the course/section number, his or her name and due date on the title page.  The title page should be numbered the first page.  A running head should appear in the upper left-hand corner of your paper for professional papers, and may be requested by your professor for student papers.  The running head should be typed in UPPERCASE letters and be no more than 50 characters long.  See more details on the running head in the box below.

Abstract - Required for professional papers, and your professor may require one for a student paper.  The abstract should appear as the second page of your paper.  An abstract is a brief but thorough description of your problem, findings and summaries.  If you performed an experiment, your methodology should be described.  The abstract should report findings but should not include discussion or interpretation.  An abstract should be no more than 250 words.

Main body - The components of your paper will depend on the particular assignment.  The main body of your paper could describe the problem you are researching, an investigation of previous findings, methodology, results, discussion of results and/or conclusion.  Continue to include the running head and number your pages.

References - The running head and page numbers should continue onto your reference page.  Center the word "References" (capitalized and in bold face) and continue to use double spacing throughout this page.  Consult the other tabs in this guide for help formatting your sources.

Check out the quick guide from Academic Writer to learn more about how to format a Title Page, just click on the screenshot below:

Title Page

Learn how to set up the title page of an APA Style paper, including the page header and running head, title, author name and affiliation, and author note.

Academic Writer

© 2020 American Psychological Association.

Formatting Running Head & Page Numbers (Updated for 7th ed., 2020)

Page Header Contents

  1. Runnin​g Head - content at the top left of each page, written in all capital letters. 
  2. Page Numbers - content at the top right of each page. 

Running Head

The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.

To add a running head in Microsoft Word:

1. Double click in the header area at the top of the document.

2. In the Header & Footer tools "Design" tab, check the box Different First Page.

3. In the header, type Running head: followed by a shortened version of your title written in all capital letters.

4. Scroll to the (or create a) second page to your document.

5. If not already selected, double click in the header to select it and type the same running head that was on the title page, but leave out preceding Running head: part.

Page Numbers

To insert page numbers in Microsoft Word:

          1. Place your cursor to the right of the running head and press the Tab button on your keyboard twice. 

          2. Click the "Insert" tab in the top menu. 

          3. Select Page Numberthen "Current Position," and choose Plain Number from the options. 

          4.  On the second page, Select Page Number, then "Current Position," choose Plain Number from the

               options. The page number will show up with a consecutive number in every page in the header.

          5. Remember to change the font size and style of headers to 12pt. Times New Roman font, one of the recommended fonts.

Organizing Tips

Citations in APA are formatted on a References page.

Organize sources - Remember to record citation information for every paper you intend to use in your work..  Use notecards or a digital method to keep track of information you intend to use.  Create a labeling scheme for your sources so that you credit the proper source.

Note page numbers - Page numbers are required for quotes.  Although they are not required for paraphrases, APA encourages their use.

Outline - Organize your paper using an outline or web scheme.  Keeping your thoughts organized by topic will help support your topic.

Check out the quick guide from Academic Writer for formatting your Reference list, just click on the screenshot below:

Reference List

Learn how to write a References section, including how to ensure entries are accurate, complete, consistently styled, and up to date.

Academic Writer

© 2020 American Psychological Association.

Pilgrim Library:   
  Click the purple "Ask Us" side tab above