The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is primarily intended as a guide for manuscript submission, and often the rules of style do not quite fit a student paper written for a course. For example, it may not be appropriate to have an abstract for a 3 page paper. It is best ask the faculty member teaching the course how strictly to follow the Style Manual.
Using APA Style for a paper means using the guidelines for every part of the paper, not just the reference list. There are guidelines for the title page, for the order followed for each part of the paper, for margins, for punctuation, for citing within the paper, for the reference list. etc.
Structure of a Paper Written in APA Style (6th ed.)
- Your essay should be typed, double-spaced (even within the title, after the title, and after headings), on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins on all sides.
- Indent five to seven spaces (or 1/2 inch) at the first line of each paragraph and the first line of each footnote. For exceptions, see page 229 of the Style Manual.You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
- Include a page header (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. To create a page header/running head, insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.
- Page 1 is the title page and contains a running head, title of the paper, name of the author, and institutional affiliate. (See page 41 of the Style Manual for an example.) The running head appears at the top of each page in the paper.
- Page 2 is the abstract page. (See page 41 of the Style Manual.) This page has the running head.
- Page 3 begins the body of the paper. The title of the paper is also located at the beginning of page 3. (See pages 42-51.)
See pages 228-231 for more information on the structure of the paper.