Apa Essay Structure

APA Paper Formatting & Style Guidelines
Your teacher may want you to format your paper using APA guidelines. If you were told to create your citations in APA format, your paper should be formatted using the APA guidelines as well.

General guidelines:

  1. Use white 8 ½  x 11” paper.
  2. Make 1 inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides
  3. The first word in every paragraph should be indented one half inch.
  4. APA recommends using Times New Roman font, size 12.
  5. Double space the entire research paper
  6. Include a page header known as the “running head” at the top of every page. (To make this process easier, set your word processor to automatically add these components onto each page)
    1. To create the running head/page header, insert page numbers justified to the right-hand side of the paper (do not put p. or pg. in front of page numbers)
    2. Then type “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” justified to the left using all capital letters
    3. If your title is long, this running head title should be a shortened version of the title of your entire paper

Sample running head/page header

APA Paper Components

Your essay should include these four major sections:

  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Main Body
  4. References

Title Page

This page should contain four pieces: the title of the paper, running head, the author’s name, institutional affiliation, and an author’s note. Create the page header/running head as described above.

*Please note that only on the title page, your page header/running head should include the words “Running Head” before your title in all capitals. The rest of the pages should not include this in the page header. It should look like this on the title page:

  • The title of the paper should capture the main idea of the essay but should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose
  • It should be centered on the page and typed in 12-point Times New Roman font. Do not underline, bold, or italicize the title.

 

  1. Your title may take up one or two lines, but should not be more than 12 words in length.
  2. All text on the title page should be double-spaced in the same way as the rest of your essay
  3. Do not include any titles on the author’s name such as Dr. or Ms.
  4. The institutional affiliation is the location where the author conducted the research

Sample Title page:

Abstract

On the following page, begin with the Running title.

  1. On the first line of the page, center the word “Abstract” (but do not include quotation marks).
  2. On the following line, write a summary of the key points of your research. Your abstract summary is a way to introduce readers to your research topic, the questions that will be answered, the process you took, and any findings or conclusions you drew.
  3. This summary should not be indented, but should be double-spaced and less than 250 words.
  4. If applicable, help researchers find your work in databases by listing keywords from your paper after your summary. To do this, indent and type Keywords: in italics.  Then list your keywords that stand out in your research.

Sample Abstract page:

The Body

On the following page, begin with the Body of the paper.

  1. Start with the Running title
  2. On the next line write the title (do not bold, underline, or italicize the title)
  3. Begin with the introduction. Indent.
  4. The introduction presents the problem and premise upon which the research was based.  It goes into more detail about this problem than the abstract.
  5. Begin a new section with the Method. Bold and center this subtitle The Method section shows how the study was run and conducted. Be sure to describe the methods through which data was collected.
  6. Begin a new section with the Results. Bold and center this subtitle. The Results section summarizes the data. Use graphs and graphs to display this data.
  7. Begin a new section with the Discussion. Bold and center this subtitle. This Discussion section is a chance to analyze and interpret your results.
    1. Draw conclusions and support how your data led to these conclusions.
    2. Discuss whether or not your hypothesis was confirmed or not supported by your results.
    3. Determine the limitations of the study and next steps to improve research for future studies.

** Throughout the body, in-text citations are used and include the author’s/authors’ name(s) and the publication year. In APA format page numbers are not used in in-text citations.

Ex: (Wilkonson, 2009).

 

For more information about how to cite properly please see EasyBib’s guides for APA citations based on the sources you are using.

Sample Body page:

 

References

On a new page, write your references.

  1. Begin with a running title
  2. Center and bold the title “References” (do not include quotation marks, underline, or italicize this title)
  3. Alphabetize and Double-space all entries
  4. Every article/source mentioned in the paper and used in your study should be referenced and have an entry.

Sample Reference Page:

Types of APA Papers

Summary:

APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).

Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2013-09-18 10:33:51

There are two common types of papers written in fields using APA Style: the literature review and the experimental report. Each has unique requirements concerning the sections that must be included in the paper.

Literature review

A literature review is a critical summary of what the scientific literature says about your specific topic or question. Often student research in APA fields falls into this category. Your professor might ask you to write this kind of paper to demonstrate your familiarity with work in the field pertinent to the research you hope to conduct.

A literature review typically contains the following sections:

  • Title page
  • Introduction section
  • List of references

Some instructors may also want you to write an abstract for a literature review, so be sure to check with them when given an assignment. Also, the length of a literature review and the required number of sources will vary based on course and instructor preferences.

NOTE: A literature review and an annotated bibliography are not synonymous. If you are asked to write an annotated bibliography, you should consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for the APA Format for Annotated Bibliographies.

Experimental report

In many of the social sciences, you will be asked to design and conduct your own experimental research. If so, you will need to write up your paper using a structure that is more complex than that used for just a literature review. We have a complete resource devoted to writing an experimental report in the field of psychology here.

This structure follows the scientific method, but it also makes your paper easier to follow by providing those familiar cues that help your reader efficiently scan your information for:

  • Why the topic is important (covered in your introduction)
  • What the problem is (also covered in your introduction)
  • What you did to try to solve the problem (covered in your methods section)
  • What you found (covered in your results section)
  • What you think your findings mean (covered in your discussion section)

Thus an experimental report typically includes the following sections.

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Appendices(if necessary)
  • Tables and/or figures (if necessary)

Make sure to check the guidelines for your assignment or any guidelines that have been given to you by an editor of a journal before you submit a manuscript containing the sections listed above.

As with the literature review, the length of this report may vary by course or by journal, but most often it will be determined by the scope of the research conducted.

Other papers

If you are writing a paper that fits neither of these categories, follow the guidelines about General Format, consult your instructor, or look up advice in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

When submitting a manuscript to a journal, make sure you follow the guidelines described in the submission policies of that publication, and include as many sections as you think are applicable to presenting your material. Remember to keep your audience in mind as you are making this decision. If certain information is particularly pertinent for conveying your research, then ensure that there is a section of your paper that adequately addresses that information.

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