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How to Write an Essay in APA Format?

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Essay in APA Format

Writing an APA-format essay for the first time might be challenging, especially if you are habituated to using other styles such as Chicago or MLA. Therefore, you need to know the differences between the MLA and APA format style rules. 

APA formatting is commonly used when writing academic essays. So, to secure good marks in your semester, you need to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of essay writing using APA format for APA referencing and citation

This blog explains how to compose an essay in APA style, outlining the basic guidelines and some preliminary tips.

What is APA Format?

Students who take part in graduate-level or introductory psychology classes have to write at least one paper during their semesters. Most of these papers are submitted in APA format, which is the official publication style of the American Psychological Association. Academic journals also demand APA formatting. The presentation elements of your paper, such as the content structure, margins, and space, are defined by the format.

Whether you are writing a college essay, high school essay, or professional essay for publication, the rules for the essay formats are the same.

Most publication editors and instructors follow strict guidelines to craft error-free APA-format essays. This not only helps readers figure out what to expect from their essays, but it also ensures their work doesn’t fail due to minor formatting or spacing errors.

Basics of the APA Essay Format

While the needs for formatting your essay might vary depending on the guidelines of your instructor, writing an APA format essay is all about incorporating the basic elements, which are as follows:

  • A title page
  • An abstract page header
  • An introduction, main body, and conclusion
  • A section for reference page
  • Proper APA formatting that includes precise margins, spacing, layout, indentations, and titles

General Paper Length

It is believed that less is more, as the APA format is often applied in science-related fields. Ensure you jot down points in a clear and concise way. Ensure your essay is clear, direct, and professional. Always avoid adding unnecessary details to your writing. This is key to maintaining a short paper length that comes with direct and concise information.

Margin Sizes in APA Format

Try to keep the margins consistent across the right, left, bottom, and top of the page. Make sure the distance between all four sides and the edge is the same. Margins of at least one inch on both sides are recommended. Wider margins are allowed, but they should never be less than one inch.

How to Set Up the APA Format?

Numerous academic fields, including psychology, education, and other social sciences, implement the APA format. The format determines your paper’s presentation elements, such as margins, space, and content structure.

Page Header

Every page of an APA essay comes with a page header. For student papers, it consists of just a page number on the top-right corner of the page. It also features a running head for academic papers meant for publishing.

All capital letters in the paper’s title represent the running head. It can have a maximum length of 50 characters and is left-aligned. Extensive titles are abbreviated.

Headings and Subheadings

There are five levels in APA headings. The main sections like “results” or “methods” are determined by the Heading level 1. The subheadings are denoted by Heading levels 2 – 5. Always remember that the formatting is different for each level.

Title Page

The title page is the very first page of an APA-format essay. However, the guidelines for professional and student papers are different.

Both versions feature the title, including the author’s name and affiliation. The student version also includes the course number and name, assignment due date, and instructor name. On the other hand, the pro version features a running head and author note.

Abstract

The abstract part is nearly a 200-word summary of your essay. For professional papers, this part is compulsory. But when it comes to student papers, it is rare (except for lengthy papers like dissertations and thesis).

You must put the APA abstract in a separate page header after the title page. Write “Abstract” in bold at the top of the page and make sure it is centrally aligned. Typically, abstracts are composed of a single paragraph with no headings or white space.

Table of Contents

There are no specific formatting rules for the table of contents in APA style. It is not considered an element for both student and professional papers. Follow general guidelines if your instructor asks you to create one.

Make sure you put TOC between the introduction and the abstract. Type the section title “Contents” in bold and keep it at the top. After that, click “Enter” once, and then enumerate the key headers along with the relevant page numbers.

Reference Page

The APA reference page should follow the main body prior to any appendices. On this page, you must list all the citations you have used in your paper. APA offers formatting prerequisites for both the page and the references.

Formatting the Reference Page

Write “References” in the section label, which is at the top of a new page. In alphabetical order, place the citations under the label directly.

Finally, don’t forget to click the hanging indent option. This is to make sure that each reference is left-aligned and all lines that follow are spaced by 0.5 inches.

In-Text Citation

  • Two authors — For in-text citation, you must name both authors in parenthesis after finishing the thought. Use an ampersand to blend the last two names instead of using “and.” Then, add a comma and write the publication year.
    For example: Jones & Smith, 2004
    If you go after a single phrase, use “and” and add the publication year only in parenthesis:
    For example: According to Jones & Smith (2004), the circumstances of….
  • Three, four, or even five authors — Irrespective of whether you choose to do a single phase or in-text citation while referencing your quote, you must list all the authors. Using commas, list them all except the last one. Then, followed by the year, there should be an ampersand AND comma in front of the last one.
    For example: Jones, Brooks, Orozco, & Smith, 2010
    When it comes to any follow-up references all across the text, just include the first name followed by the year and “et al.” instead of listing all the authors.
    For example: Jones et al., 2010
  • Six or more authors — In the in-text citation, you must avoid listing all the authors. In a single phrase or parenthesis, add the first author’s last name along with the year and “et al.” This is the right approach to in-text citing a publication with six or more authors.
    For example: Smith et al. (2010) recommended….
    (Smith et al., 2010)
  • No authors — If some of your sources do not have authors, the referencing must be done with the publication name. In parenthesis, followed by the year, you must add the two first words from the publication name in quotation marks. For a single phrase referencing, it is the same, but not with the use of parenthesis:
    For example, the study was executed in a personalized setting (“Deduction Methods,” 1999)

Tables and Figures

The format in which tables and figures appear is identical. A number and title appear before them, and if needed, clarification notes follow.

Go with bold styling for the word “Figure” or “Table,” as well as the number. Then, put the title on a new line below it. Make sure the title is in title case and italics. Always strive to maintain a clean and concise table. To do so, you need to avoid any vertical lines and use as few horizontal lines as possible. Also, it is important to keep your column and row labels to the point.

Try to maintain a simple design of figures. If needed, include labels and colors. Avoid this step only to make it more attractive.

Steps to Craft an Appealing APA Format Essay

Besides citing your sources accurately and presenting information as per the APA guidelines, there are some other important things you can pay attention to. This is key to composing APA format essays with ease. Here are the steps you must take into account:

Select a Topic

Choose a good essay topic to start off. Make sure to go after a subject that helps you conduct in-depth research and successfully navigate the topic. However, keep in mind that you have to come up with an easy approach that ensures you don’t face any difficulties in tracking down the much-needed sources of information.

Research Your Topic

As early as possible, put effort into your research topic. Whether it’s student papers or professional papers, start by reviewing some basic books relevant to your topic to gather additional valuable information. What issue are you going to address with your write-up? What approach are you going to take to explain the topic?

Once you get used to the subject, come up with a preliminary source of potential essays, articles, books, and studies that you can use in your piece of writing.

Keep in mind that all of your essay sources should be on your reference page. However, any source on your reference page must also be cited somewhere in your paper’s body.

Compose a Rough Draft

After you have completed your research, you are well prepared to start. Some people prefer creating a structure to organize their justifications before drafting. You can also create an extremely rough structure and then add specifications.

Once you have the structure, make sure to translate it from notes to come up with completed paragraphs and sentences. Keep in mind that this is the initial draft, and it doesn’t need to be accurate.

What can you do to achieve a perfect start for your APA-style paper? Your APA-format paper must have an introduction at the beginning, which features a thesis statement that explains your main points, ideas, or arguments. Make sure to start the introduction on the third page of your APA-format paper (after the abstract and the title page). Your paper’s title should appear at the top of the page, centred, bolded, and formatted in the title case.

Review and Revise

After you have compiled a rough outline for your essay, it’s time to review, revise, and create the final draft. In addition to ensuring that your paper is well-supported by sources, you should also pay close attention to typos, formatting errors, and possible grammatical errors.

APA Format Templates

Check out an example of the APA format 7th ed.

APA Format Templates

How to Cite Different Source Types in APA Style?

Citing your sources is critical when composing an academic research paper. It is all about acknowledging the research and ideas of others you have acquired and using them in your own APA paper. If you lack the APA guidelines, you will get poor grades in the semester.

APA style is one of the most popular citation styles used to avoid plagiarism. There is a difference between an APA-format citation and an APA-format reference! We are aware that many academics and instructors use the phrases interchangeably. But, in this particular style, they are two distinct concepts with different uses and styles.

Book

Books are critical elements of papers and are often considered invaluable resources. Your comprehension of book citations will serve as the foundation for your grasp of APA format reference standards.

Adding proper references to a book with more than two authors is more hectic than citing other types of books. Continue reading to learn more about in-text citations that also feature page numbers.

A basic book citation in APA format includes information, which are as follows:

  • Name of the author
  • Book title
  • Publisher of the book
  • Year of publishing

More information is needed when citing:

  • Books in databases or books on websites
  • Edited or translated books
  • Chapters
  • Republished book
  • Books with multiple editions or volumes

Journal Article

For APA-style research papers, one of the most critical sources of information is the journal article. Most of the time, these act as the primary source of information as they come up with information that is particular to a subject or topic.

Citations within the main body, as opposed to the page with references at the very end of an essay, are referred to as in-text citations. A direct quotation or a paraphrase is followed by an in-text reference. You must also add the full citation for each APA in-text citation in your paper on the references page.

For example,

Reference Page

Structure – Last name of the author, first initial of the author, middle initial of the author (Year, Month, Date Published). Article title. Journal Name, Volume (Issue), page number(s). https://doi.org/– – (if available) Example – Martin, T.Y. (1991). Public attitudes towards inflation. American Journal of Social Science, 44(2), 211-239. https://doi.org/10.1447/7555102

Newspaper

Newspapers are daily or weekly news sources that cover politics, crime, business, entertainment, art, society, and sports, among other topics. They are also excellent sources of information, as they are regularly published and can explain trending events in particular communities.

Take a look at the example of citing a newspaper article that features two authors.

Structure – Last name of the author, F.M., & last name of the author, F.M. (Year, Month, Date Published). Article title. Newspaper Title. URL  Example – Ambrose, F., & Tom-Pyne, M. (2006, October 5).
Rules against crime are strengthening. The Washington Post. https://www.xyz.com/xx
In-Text Citation Structure –  (last name of the author, year of publication)  last name of the author, (year of publication)  In-Text Citation Examples –  (Ambrose & Tom-Pyne, 2006) Ambrose & Tom-Pyne (2006)

Mistakes You Make with APA Format

You can avoid common APA formatting mistakes when composing your paper with more care and diligence. Please scroll down and take a look at them in detail.

  • Running Head and Page Numbers – According to numerous studies, a large number of both student papers and professional papers lack a proper running head in terms of the one that was incorrectly formatted.
    To alleviate this issue, include page numbers and a running head within the text file. Also, check the alignment, character length, and font sizes of the running head.
  • Abstract – Studies also show that many student papers include incorrect “Abstract” headings. Remember, the abstract is an important part of your APA-style paper. Make sure it is on a separate page and there are no typos or formatting errors.
    Many students frequently make the mistake of experimenting with the heading in bold or italics. This header, on the other hand, ought to be formatted and centered similarly to the body of the content.
  • In-Text Citations Errors in this category are quite common. The most significant ones are the incorrect use of ‘et al.,’ spelling mistakes, wrong use of punctuations, and even incorrect implementation of several citations within a single parenthesis.
    Properly citing your sources is an integral part of drafting your paper. Make sure you understand the guidelines for citing publications with varying author counts. Furthermore, make sure that the citations’ names and their year of publication remain consistent throughout the paper.
  • References – Studies show that most writers make more than three mistakes while formatting their references. The most common errors include the wrong usage of commas, ampersands, full stops, italics, and much more.
    Using referencing software, some of which is free, is the simplest way to ensure that the reference list is error-free. Whether it’s a student paper or any other professional papers, they will help you manage your APA paper references more easily and spare you many hours of frustration.

Conclusion

Knowing how to compose an APA-format essay (from the title page to the references) is essential for academic success, particularly in psychology and related fields. By comprehending the fundamentals of APA formatting, including elements like title pages, abstracts, headings, and references, you can easily create essays that meet the required standards.

Follow guidelines meticulously to avoid common mistakes, such as errors in running heads, abstract formatting, in-text citations, and references. To streamline the process, use available resources like APA templates and citation guides.

Crafting an APA-format essay involves selecting a suitable topic, conducting thorough research, composing a structured draft, and reviewing thoroughly. By adhering to APA guidelines and paying attention to detail, you can produce polished essays that effectively showcase your scholarly skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

In APA format, how do you reference an essay?

According to the APA style, you have to cite the author’s last name, first name, essay title, publisher, year, and page number if the essay is included in a chapter of a book, editorial collection, or anthology. John Smith’s “The Light House,” in A Book of Poems, edited by Peter Roberts, Allworth Press, 2005, pp. 20–25, is one example.

How can I compose an APA-formatted two-part essay?

A two-part essay is laid out similarly to an essay in accordance with APA guidelines, but two title pages must be created.

Who implements the APA Style?

The APA format is extensively used by scholars, practitioners, and students in the social and behavioral sciences, which include business, psychology, and education.

Please confirm which style you should use by following the instructions provided by your university or the journal that you wish to publish in.

In APA format, which font and font size are used?

Writing APA-style papers requires the use of a widely available and readable font. For example:

  • Times New Roman (12pt.)
  • Arial (11pt.)
  • Calibri (11pt.)
  • Georgia (11pt.)

The same font and size are used everywhere in the document – including the running head, headings, page numbers, and reference page. Text with single-line spacing and a reduced font size can be found in footnotes and figure illustrations.

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Hi, I am Mark, a Literature writer by profession. Fueled by a lifelong passion for Literature, story, and creative expression, I went on to get a PhD in creative writing. Over all these years, my passion has helped me manage a publication of my write ups in prominent websites and e-magazines. I have also been working part-time as a writing expert for myassignmenthelp.com for 5+ years now. It’s fun to guide students on academic write ups and bag those top grades like a pro. Apart from my professional life, I am a big-time foodie and travel enthusiast in my personal life. So, when I am not working, I am probably travelling places to try regional delicacies and sharing my experiences with people through my blog. 

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