APA Format Overview

Proper formatting is an essential part of any manuscript. This article will show you a detailed approach in formatting a manuscript using the American Psychological Association (APA) system. It will cover the general rules and specific guidelines for the APA body format.

 What is the APA style?

This formatting style, developed in 1929 by the American Psychological Association (APA), is most widely used in writing academic papers in different fields, especially the social sciences. If you are already accustomed to other formatting and referencing styles such as Chicago or MLA, that’s great. However, it is strongly recommended that you also get a good grip of APA formatting rules for some professors will surely require you to use these.

If you’re preparing to enter the university or getting ready for a social science subject and want to know more about APA formatting, you can read on for more substantial information that might come in handy.


General Rules


In writing an academic paper in APA format, you have to use an 8.5 x 11 inch paper and make sure that it has a 1 inch margin on all sides. Also, the contents of your paper must be typed using Times New Roman with a font size of 12 and should always be double-spaced.

In every page, the title of your paper must be included in the left part of the header and the page number in Arabic numeral on the right. If your title has more than 50 characters, make a shorter version of it and use that shorter title for your header.

Margins and Font

  • Use one inch margin on all sides of every page, and Times New Roman with 12-point font size.


  • All parts of the paper should be double spaced. Leave one space after a comma, colon, or semi-colon and two spaces after a period.

Alignment and Indention

  • Align the text to the left and indent the first line of every paragraph by 5-7 spaces.

Running head and pagination

  • The running head or the short version of the title appears on the first line of every page, flushed left and written in uppercase letters. It should be less than 50 characters in length including punctuations and spacing.
  • In line with the running head is page number, which is located one inch from the right edge of the paper.
  • The title page, abstract, body, references, footnotes, and appendices begin on a new page.


  • The heading for each part (e.g. Title Page, Abstract, References, Footnotes, Appendix or Appendices) is aligned at the center in the first line below the running head.


  • The paper starts with the title page followed by the abstract, body of the paper, references, footnotes, and appendices (abstract, footnotes, and appendices are not always required in a document).



Sections of the APA Format Paper

Sections required for every APA paper: title page, abstract, body, reference list, footnotes and appendices

Title page

The first part of your paper is obviously the title page. On this page, you must type the title of your paper, your name, ID number, course title, school, and name of the professor. Don’t forget to have them centered on the page. For a detail explanation visit our guide on the APA title page.

As previously mentioned, every page must have a shorter version of the title and a page number. The only difference with the other pages is that for the title page, you would need to type “Running head: ” before the short title.

Elements: Running head, Title, Author byline, Institutional affiliation, Author note

  • The title page begins at page one.
  • Ideally, the title should not exceed 12 words.
  • All elements are written in lowercase and uppercase letters, and are aligned at the center of the page.
  • The title comes first and next lines contain the author byline, institutional affiliation and author note.




After making the title page, the next page should contain the Abstract. Simply put, this is a summary of your whole paper and must only be composed of 150-250 words. Have the word “Abstract” centered on the page and the write-up itself should not be indented.

Content: One paragraph summary of the paper with 150 to 250 words

  • The body of the abstract is in block format (no indention).
  • Numbers are generally written in digits except those at the beginning of a sentence.