A guide to formatting in APA style
The information below is drawn from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed. In order to find a more in-depth explanation of any item below, be sure to buy a copy for yourself or check one out from VCU Libraries.
Select a header below to learn more about APA formatting.
- Font options: Calibri (11pt), Arial (11pt), Lucida (10pt), Times New Roman (12pt), Georgia (11pt)
- 1-inch margins
- Double spaced
- Separate page
- Centered on page in bold
- For a class assignment: under title include your full name, institutional affiliation, course number, instructor’s name, and assignment due date
- For publication: your full name and institutional affiliation
- Running Head: in all caps and justified to the left
- Separate page
- Center the heading: “Abstract”
- Short, concise, non-evaluative summary of the paper
- 150-250 words
- Header: use a SHORTENED TITLE (in all caps); justified to the left
- Continue page number in header (justified to the right)
- Use headings for sections of paper
- New page
- Simple title of “References” centered
- Only include entries cited in paper
- Each entry has a hanging indent of 0.5"
- Authors’ names need to be inverted (last name, initials) and in alphabetical order
- Double spaced
- Were you as specific (in descriptions and numerical values) as possible?
- Find all your pronouns! Are they clear and specific?
- Do you use the proper labels for your subjects/participants?
- Avoid jargon
- Write in the active voice where possible
- Remove any nonessential words
- Remove all colloquial expressions
- Are you using the right verb tense?
- Do your subjects agree with your verbs?
- Need a quick guide to punctuation? Look at Ch. 6 for quick tips of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed.
- Only use gendered language when necessary
- When possible, use your participants’ names
- Avoid assuming heterosexual orientation and use the most up-to-date language
- Only specify race if it is relevant to the study
- Use the currently preferred name for groups (e.g. Inuk or Inuit for plural, instead of Eskimo)
- Do you “put people first”? Always list the person and then their disability
- Do you always place socially dominant groups first in lists? If so, vary the placement
- Do you avoid stereotypes?
Introduce the idea with a signal phrase that includes the author’s last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.
Ex. 1: According to Campbell (1995), strong coops are important for poultry (p. 21).
Ex. 2: According to Campbell (1995), “When owning poultry, it is important to maintain a secure coop” (p. 21).
WARNING: Avoid quotations unless absolutely necessary.
- When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word: Farm-Raised Chickens
- Capitalize the first word after a colon or a dash: "Perfecting Farm Life: An In-depth Study of Agricultural Practices”
- Italicize the titles of longer works such as books, edited collections, movies, television series, documentaries, or albums: LOST, Criminal Minds, Harry Potter
- Put quotation marks around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles, articles from edited collections, television series episodes, and song titles
Ex. 1: “Hurt,” by Johnny Cash (song title)
Ex. 2: “Saint Lucifer.” (T.V. series)