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APA: Formatting Your Paper

This guide follows the APA 6th ed. manual.

Key Resources on APA Style

Disclaimer: This guide follows the APA 6th ed. manual. The revised guide for the APA 7th ed. manual is now available here:


APA 6th edition resources:

Available at Lister Hill Library - Books - 2nd Floor WZ 345 AM350p 2010


APA Style Guide to Electronic References 2012 is available in the library catalog. Access through this link, and sign in with your blazer ID and password to download.

APA Style Blog 6th Edition Archive: The content on this blog is an archive and will no longer be updated.


APA Style Title Page

Standard APA requires a title page with 5 components:

  • title
  • running head
  • author byline
  • institutional affiliation 
  • author note  

Pages 23-25 (Sections 2.02 and 2.03) of the APA Manual describe all the elements of the title page.  Page 41 (Figure 2.1) shows an example of a title page.

NOTE: The APA manual is intended for publications, not course papers. Your professor may require a different style title page or not require you include one at all.  It's best to check with your professor if you have questions.   

How to Set up a Running Head

The 7th ed. of the APA manual updates the formatting for the title page and running head setup in Chapter 2: Paper Elements and Format. As stated in the newest manual edition, APA provides the following: "THe running head format has been simplified for professional authors and is not required for students" (p. xix). A standard header for a manuscript in APA Style should include the shortened title of your paper in all caps in the left corner and the page number in the right.  The first page should also include Running head: preceding your title. Completed it will look like this:


To create your header using Microsoft Word, open your document and select the Insert tab.

From the Insert tab select Header.  A list of options should appear.  Select Edit Header from the bottom of that list.

A new set of tools will appear.  Select Different First Page:

On the first page, type Running head: SHORTENED TITLE OF YOUR PAPER.  Notice that only the R in Running head is capitalized and the title of your paper should appear in all caps.  Once you've typed the title, press the tab key twice.

After typing your title, press the tab key twice so you can add the page number.  Next, select Page Number from the toolbar.  A list of choices will appear.  Select Current Position then Plain Number. There are other ways to do this, but this method will not disrupt your formatting and is recommended. 

Repeat these steps on the 2nd page, omitting Running head so that only the shortened title of your paper appears.  You'll only need to repeat the process once.  If you have to, go back to the Insert tab > Header > Edit HeaderGo to any page other than the first.  Type your title in all caps.  You do not need "Running head" after the first page of your manuscript. Again, press the tab key twice and select Page Number > Current Position > Plain Number.


Running Head Using Word for Mac

The process is slightly different for those using Word for Mac.  See the handout for step-by-step instructions on setting up your header.

Section Headings

There are five heading levels for possible use in your paper.  You probably won't need to use more than the first two or three levels.  Rules for position, bold or italics, and capitalization depend on which level you are using.  For example, the first two levels require you to capitalize all significant words while the rest require you to only capitalize the first word.  The five levels are:

  1. Centered, boldface, uppercase and lowercase
  2. Flush left, boldface, uppercase and lowercase
  3. Indented, boldface, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period
  4. Indented, boldface, italicized lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period
  5. Indented, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period

Below is an example:


The First Level is Bolded, Centered, Upper and Lowercase

The Second Level is Left Justified, Bolded, and Upper and Lowercase

            The 3rd level is indented, bolded, lowercase, and ends with a period.

            The 4th level is indented, bolded, italicized, lowercase, and ends with a period.

           The 5th level is indented, italicized, lowercase, and ends with a period.



Margins, Font, and Line Spacing

Margins: all margins (left, right, top, bottom) should be set to 1"

Font: Times New Roman, 12-point font is preferred

Line spacing: Double spaced throughout, including title, headings, quotations, references, footnotes, and captions

Chat with a Librarian


Contact us:
Lister Hill Library
2nd Floor

Sterne Library
HUB Desk

APA Librarian Contacts

LHL Librarian(s) who can help you with APA:

Sterne Librarian(s) who can help you with APA:

Please click on one of the names above to email that person or chat with us during business hours using the box below.

Key Points to Remember

APA requires in-text citations and a reference list.  References are cited in-text with author-date system and are listed alphabetically by author name in the Reference List.

Author names are inverted.  Example: Smith, J.D.

Reference lists should be double-spaced and in hanging indent format (indented 5 spaces).

Book titles and journal titles are italicized.  Article titles are not italicized.

Full journal titles are used rather than journal title abbreviations.

Include DOIs for online articles.  If DOI isn't available, include journal homepage URL.

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