APA formatting is a set of rules and guidelines for styling your paper and citing your sources. If you need help setting up your paper in APA style, the following document can be downloaded and used as a template for your APA-styled papers:
Want to see some key differences between APA 6th and 7th editions? Take a look at the following APA key changes infographic or the APA complete changes guide:
To meet current APA style requirements, follow these guidelines:
- The font should be consistent throughout the document and can be one of the following:
- 12 pt. Times New Roman
- 11 pt. Georgia
- 10 pt. Computer Modern
- 11 pt. Calibri
- 11 pt. Ariel
- 10 pt. Lucida Sans Unicode
- Entire document is double spaced.
- Margins are 1 inch on all sides.
- Align the body text in your paper left, leaving the right side uneven or ragged. Do not use justified alignment.
- Paragraphs in the body of the paper are indented 1/2 inch or one “tab” stop.
- Insert only 1 space after punctuation, including punctuation at the end of a sentence.
- Student papers do not include a running head, author note, or abstract, unless specifically requested.
Need help formatting your paper? See our guide on APA Formatting For Microsoft word.
- An Ashford title page contains:
- page number (in the top right margin/header)
- title of your paper (in bold and first letter of any major words capitalized)
- your full name
- school name
- course code and name
- instructor’s name
- the date submitted
- The page number is included in the top right of the margin and is included on all pages.
- The title of the paper is centered, in bold font, and appears 3-4 lines down on the page after the top margin.
- The remaining information appears one double-spaced line below the title of the paper. It is centered, double spaced, and in standard font with no bold or underlines.
Sample Title Page:
Sample Page 2:
Headings can be placed anywhere in your paper as a way to classify or organize your paper into sections. There are five levels of headings; the first three levels are the most commonly used in course assignments. Levels four and five are typically used in longer papers (e.g., a master’s thesis or dissertation). Using level headings helps your reader understand the organization of your paper. Short papers may not need to use any level headings. Follow these current APA level heading guidelines:
To see how level headings can be applied in an essay, see this example.
- All in-text citations for direct quotations include...
- the authors’ last names (or title if no author)
- the year the source was published
- the page, paragraph, chapter, section, or time stamp of the quotation.
- All in-text citations for paraphrased information includes...
- the author last names (or title if no author)
- the publication year.
- Note: Including the page, paragraph, chapter, section, or time stamp is optional for paraphrased information.
- All sources cited within the paper are also in the References list (with the exception of personal communications, which are only cited in the text).
- All quotations less than 40 words are enclosed in quotation marks. The in-text citation comes before the ending punctuation.
- All quotations more than 40 words are formatted as a block quote. They start on a new line with the entire quote indented a half an inch from the left margin—no quotation marks are needed. The in-text citation comes after the punctuation.
For more help with In-Text Citations, see our guide on Citing Within Your Paper.
- The References list starts on a new page after the text of the paper.
- The title, References, is centered at the top of the page, in bold font.
- Reference entries are listed in alphabetical order.
- All sources listed in the References have at least one corresponding in-text citation within the body of the text.
- References are double spaced (between entries and within each entry)and each entry uses a hanging indent.
For help formatting your Reference page, see our Formatting Your References List page.
For help formatting each reference list entry, refer to our downloadable formatting guide.
- Numbers one through nine are spelled out. Any numbers above 10 are written using actual numbers.
- Avoid the use of contractions (e.g., don't, can't, shouldn't), clichés, and slang. Keep an academic tone to your writing.
- Limit the use of passive voice.
- Avoid anthropomorphism.
- Use appropriate pronouns.
- Use italics only when appropriate in formatting or to emphasize a word.
- Avoid biased language.
- Use appropriate APA level headings.
- The serial comma is used to separated items in a series of three or more items.
- Lists follow seriation rules.
- Format and properly cite all tables, images, and figures.
- Use past tense when referring to research or sources that have already been published.
For details on each of these style elements, visit the APA Style Elements page.