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APA 7th edition Professional Papers

Need to write a professional paper?

Professional Paper Setup, Step by Step

This box explains how you set up Microsoft Word before writing your professional paper. Most sections are same as student paper. However, a professional paper, unlike a student paper, has a running title at the top of each page, and the title page of a professional paper looks different than a student paper. Also, professional papers include an abstract and keywords, on a separate second page..

Microsoft Word margins are usually preset to 1". If not, follow these instructions:

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Go to Page Layout or Layout tab
  2. Click Margins
  3. Select  Normal option

Margins > Normal

Right margin is "ragged" -- this is default in Microsoft Word.

Double Space -- alternate method:

  • Highlight all text
  • Right-click your mouse
  • Select Paragraph
  • Under Indents and Spacing, Line Spacing, select Double
  • [OK]

APA 7th papers should be double spaced.

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Go to the Home tab
  2. In the Paragraph box, click the icon that looks like two up/down arrows with text to the right
  3. Pick 2.0
  4. Click [OK]

Paragraph > Spacing > 2.0

Double Space -- alternate method:

  • Highlight all text
  • Right-click your mouse
  • Select Paragraph
  • Under Indents and Spacing, Line Spacing, select Double
  • [OK]

Title of paper

Your title should summarize the main topic of your paper. There is no word limit, but don't get too wordy. The APA Style Blog has further information on titles: Five Steps to a Great Title. Capitalize all important words in title.

Example Titles

  • Attitudes of College Students Towards Transportation Fees
  • Effect of Red Light Cameras on Traffic Fatalities
  • Juror Bias in Capital Punishment Cases

How to Set up Running Head and Page Numbers for Professional Paper:

To set up an APA running head in Microsoft Word:

  1. Click on “Insert” > “Header” (or double click at the top of a page).
  2. Select “Blank” template (left-aligned without additional formatting).
  3. Insert (abbreviated) paper title in capital letters.

To insert automatic page numbering:

  1. Click “Insert” > “Page number”.
  2. Select top-right position.


Example running head and page number:

Abbreviating long titles for running head

If paper title is longer than 50 characters, use shorter version for running head. APA guidelines state that:

  • Words need not be in same order.
  • No abbreviations, but may use ampersand (&) instead of “and”.

Examples: abbreviating title 

Running head example 1
  • Original title: Social Comparisons on Social Media: The Impact of Facebook on Young Women’s Body Image Concerns and Mood
Running head example 2
  • Original title: Examining the Energizing Effects of Humor: The Influence of Humor on Persistence Behavior


Write Your Professional Paper, Step by Step

These are the parts of your professional paper. The first four are always needed.  Begin each part with a new page. Check tabs above for details about each part.

  1. * Professional title page has title of paper, name(s) of author(s), author affiliation(s), author noterunning head, and page number. Check assignment rubric for special instructions from instructor.
  2. *Abstract (page two). Short summary of paper, followed by keywords. Leave this blank till you write paper.
  3. *Body (Text)  (begins page three). Use assignment rubric as  guide. All ideas that are not your own or common knowledge need author-date in-text citation. Free APA Tutorial covers scholarly writing basics. Consult Chapter 1 of manual and course instructor for help with specific kinds of papers.
  4. *References (last page), References centered in bold type, followed by references, alphabetized by author. Each reference is separate "paragraph." double-spaced, with hanging indent
  5. Footnotes (occasionally). Footnotes not used for citation in APA style. Sometimes added to foot of page for explanatory information, copyright notes (Section 2.13, p. 40-41).
  6. Tables, followed by Figures (separate pages following Reference page or integrated into text).Can be tricky. Tables present numeric data efficiently; figures may be charts, graphs, or photos. Examples -- see also Chapter 7. Suggestion: append to end on separate pages if  instructor allows. Use template or copy and paste from sample if possible. Same as APA 6th edition.
  7. Appendices separate page, supplementary material such as psychological tests developed for study.

Note: Elements marked * always needed in professional paper. Include others if necessary for assignment/project.

Title page of a professional paper looks like a paper you submit for publication. Setup of professional title page explained below:

Title Page is Page 1. Running Head (short version of title in all caps) is at top left. Page number is at top right.

1) Running head and page number (page one) should be at top of page.. Use built-in header and page numbering function in Word.

(2) Space three to four lines down from top of title page and type your title. Center and bold it. Capitalize major words of title. Place main title and any subtitle on separate double-spaced lines if desired. No maximum length for titles; however, keep titles focused and include key terms.

(3) Place one double-spaced blank line between the paper title and the author names. Center author names on their own line. If there are two authors, use the word “and” between authors; if there are three or more authors, place a comma between author names and use the word “and” before the final author name.

(3) Author affiliation is school or department, followed by comma, then name of  university, or other institution. Center affiliation on next double-spaced line after author names..

Place the author note in the bottom half of the title page. Center and bold the label “Author Note.” Align the paragraphs of the author note to the left. For further information on the contents of the author note, see Section 2.7 of the Publication Manual.

Source: APA Style. See also Publication Manual (Section 2.3, p. 30-31)

Sample professional title page:


Check your assignment rubric for special instructions from your professor.


Page 2 of your professional paper will be an abstract, or short summary of your paper, 250 words or less, followed by keywords describing the subject of your paper. You can compose it after you write your paper. For now, type Abstract, bolded and centered, and leave the rest of page 2 blank.

The sample abstract below is divided into sections. Your abstract can be a single indented paragraph without sections if you prefer.

Source: APA Style.


Writing the body (text, main part) of your professional paper:

Sample Beginning, Body of Professional Paper in APA 7th 

Example below shows beginning of the body (main part) of APA 7th professional paper. Body of paper begins on page 3. {Page 1 is title page, and page 2 is abstract). First line is title of paper (repeated from title page), centered, bold, title case (important words are capitalized). One-inch margins, 0.5-inch paragraph indent, double space, one space after period ending each sentence. Default settings on Word will usually work. Use tab key or paragraph format to indent first line of each paragraph. Right margin should be "ragged."

Notice the in-text citations in parentheses where the author has read and used ideas from  other authors. All ideas that are not your own or common knowledge should have in-text citations (Section 8.10-8.22, p. 261-269).Each in-text citation should match an entry in the References list on a separate page at the end of the body of the paper.  You may want to add entries to your References list as you write. If you do a lot of writing, you can use a "reference manager" such as Zotero to format your references automatically.

A free APA Tutorial covers scholarly writing basics. Consult Chapter 1 of manual and course instructor for help with specific kinds of papers.

Added note: many but not all,  papers are divided into sections with headings.  (See APA Style website for sample professional paper with headings).. Inside front cover of Publication Manual shows how headings should look, if you use them.

Example, beginning of professional paper:


The heading at the top of the reference list should be References and is bolded and centered. See Publication Manual p. 66,

The References list should be on a new page, and should be the last section of your paper. Compile your References list as you write your paper. Every time you mention a source in an in-text citation, add the full reference to your References list. Each reference is separate "paragraph." double-spaced, with hanging indentEvery in-text citation should also appear in  reference list at end of paper, and everything in references list should have in-text citation..


When you mention this 2009 article by Reed in your paper:

 "... as stated by Reed et al. (2009) ... "

then you will add the following entry to References on separate page at end of paper:

Reed, M. J., Kennett, D. J., Lewis, T., Lund-Lucas, E., Stallberg, C., & Newbold, I. L. (2009). The relative effects of university success courses and individualized interventions for students with learning disabilities. Higher Education Research & Development28(4), 385–400.

Hanging Indent

All reference lists should have a hanging indent. An example of a hanging indent is shown above.:

To Make a Hanging Indent: 


Reproduced from: Create a Hanging Indent


Hanging Indent (alternate method):

  • Highlight text
  • Right-click your mouse
  • Select Paragraph
  • Select Indentation>Special>Hanging>0.5" [Enter]


Line spacing in the reference list should be set to double (2.0).

Format of References

References list is formatted to give complete information so reader can look up the original source. Examples are shown in this guide, in the Publication Manual, Chapter 10, p. 313-352, and in APA Style. If you copy and paste them from library databases or formatters, you are responsible for correcting errors. If you are new to writing APA papers, find a similar example from APA and fix your reference so it looks like theirs. Ask your professor, the Writing Center, or WKU Libraries for help if needed. Sample References list in Publication Manual, p. 58-59


Alphabetize References list by author's last name. Go letter by letter and ignore spaces, hyphens, punctuation etc.

If a work has no author, use title to alphabetize. Use the first significant word to alphabetize; this means you skip words like the, a, and an.


Here's how your list should look, reproduced from APA Style:


Source: Publication Manual, 2.12; 9.44-9.49. APA Handour.

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