If your paper will use strict APA formatting, follow steps below. Your paper should have three major sections: title page, main body, and references list. Each begins a new page. Publication Manual covers guidelines in Chapter 2. APA website has a Quick Answers--Formatting page.
These guidelines cover how to set up a student paper in APA format. The 7th edition now has specific formatting for student papers versus a professional paper (i.e. one being submitted for publication). If your instructor has requested a professional format or additional elements, use your instructor's preferences.
Official APA Resources on Student Papers:
Word template (guide to APA 7th Student Paper layout in Microsoft Word):
Microsoft Word margins are usually preset to 1". If not, follow these instructions:
Right margin is "ragged" -- this is default in Microsoft Word.
Double Space -- alternate method:
APA 7th papers should be double spaced.
Double Space -- alternate method:
Title of paper
Your title should summarize the main topic of your paper. There is no word limit, but don't get too wordy. APA Style Blog has further information: Five Steps to a Great Title. Capitalize all important words in title.
Pages should be numbered at top right.. Use built-in page numbering system, as shown below. Don't type page numbers manually. Page 1 is title page.
Note: in APA 7th, "student papers" do NOT have a running title. This is a change from older versions of APA. A "running title" in APA is a shortened title in all capital letters that appears in the header of each page. Only "professional papers" need a running title. Your professor will tell you if you need to write a "professional paper."
Your title page is page 1. Number should be on upper right. If not, see Add Page Numbers to Header above.
Source: APA Style. Publication Manual p.32 (Fig. 2.2), p. 61
The text (body) of your APA student paper begins on Page 2, right after title page.
APA does not specify a specific font or size, just that it must be legible. The same font should be used throughout the paper. Some suggestions are 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, 12-point Times New Roman, and 11-point Georgia (see Section 2.19, p. 44).
If your instructor has specified a font or font size, use that one.
Source: Publication Manual, 2.19
Sample Beginning, Body of Student Paper in APA 7th
The example below shows how the beginning of the body (main part) of a student paper should look in APA 7th. Note the page number at upper right This is Page 2 (Page 1 is the title page). First line is the title of your paper (repeated from the title page), centered, bold, title case (important words are capitalized). Set 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 student paper with headings).. Inside front cover of Publication Manual shows how headings should look, if you use them. A complete sample student paper is shown in Publication Manual, p. 61-67.
Example, beginning of student paper:
Heading of References List
The heading at the top of the reference list should say 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.
If you put this in-text citation in the body of your paper:
then you add the following entry to References list 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 & Development, 28(4), 385–400. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360903067013
All reference lists should have a hanging indent. An example of a hanging indent is shown above. Here's how to set up hanging indent in Word:
Reproduced from: Create a Hanging Indent
Hanging Indent (alternate method):
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.
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.