How to Write a Research Paper in APA Format: General Style Rules

The APA, American Psychological Association, style is often used when citing sources for a social sciences, such as sociology or psychology, topic paper. To fully understand how to use the APA style, you will want to review all the rules online or pick up an APA style guidebook. Use the guide below to start your paper.

Some of the general rules for using the APA style are:

  • Formatting
  • Double space the paper and use a size 12 Times New Roman font. All sides, the top, and the bottom margins should each be one inch.

    All pages will have an all-capital header on the top left of the page. It is called a Running Header and cannot be longer than 50 characters. On the top right of all pages, there will be a page number.

  • Sections
  • Your paper will have four main sections: the title page, the abstract, the main body, and the references.

    The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and your school name centered in the page. Include the page header on the top flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page of the title page

    On the next page, you will start your Abstract. The abstract should be labeled “Abstract” below the header and page number. Center the word “Abstract.” Beginning with the next line (double space, not triple space), write a detailed summarization of the main points of your research. (Do not indent when you start the body of the Abstract.) Your abstract should contain your research topic, your research questions, any participants or case studies, methods, results, surveys, data analysis, and your conclusions. You can also include predictions about what may happen concerning your findings. Keep the abstract between 200-250 words.

  • Citations
  • The basic APA in-text citation is the author’s last name and the most recent date of publication or modification. So an in-text citation may look like this (Smith, 2010). There are exceptions to this case.

      The APA style is more complex that this guideline, so it is suggested that as you work on your APA paper, you use this guide and then also check the final product by an online or hard copy thorough APA guide. You will need instructions on quoting (long and short quotations), the main body of the paper, articles without authors noted, your reference page, and other small nuances pertaining to your APA style paper.