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APA Style - Citing Sources: Formatting the Paper

Formatting the Paper

When writing a paper using APA style, you must adhere to very specific style rules. These include:

  • Double space with 1" margins on all sides.
  • 12 point Times New Roman font (including the header text)
  • Page header on each page; the words Running head on page 1. Include a shortened version of your paper title, in uppercase letters.
  • Paper's sections:  Title Page, Main Body, References.  Other sections include abstract, appendices.  These are not always required or necessary.
  • Title page includes page number, and all subsequent pages are numbered in the upper right.
  • Title of paper, author's name (your name), institutional affiliation (Regis College) centered on title page are the basic elements on the title page. Do not add date, course number or name, professor's name.
  • Start the reference list after the body of the paper, on a new page, with the word References centered at the top.  Do not bold or italicize.
  • Headings must conform to APA Style.  

See Ch. 2, "Manuscript Structure and Content," p. 21, Publication Manual of the American Pscyhological Association (6th ed,) for more detail.  See sample papers starting on p. 41.  Heading levels are discussed on p. 62.

APA Format Using Microsoft Word

 It's easy to start your paper using the APA paper template in MS Word!

Quick Answers - Formatting

Topics covered:

  • Running head
  • Margins
  • Heading levels
  • Lists
  • Tables
  • Figures
  • Table of contents
  • Title page
  • Serial comma
  • Quotations

APA Checklist

Use this checklist to proofread your paper once it is complete. 

Sample APA Paper for Students


This Sample APA Paper for Students Interested in Learning APA Style 6th Edition is authored by Professor Jeffrey A. Kahn of Illinois State University.

This paper is a sample research paper and includes sections on Method, Participants, Research Design, Measures, Results, and Discussion.

Sample APA Paper for Regis Students

This sample paper was written for Regis students by Carolyn Swidrak, librarian at Regis College, in January 2019.

Running head

This handout explains how to format the Running head on your paper using MS Word.


Short papers often do not require an abstract.  Check your assignment or clarify with your professor if you have questions about whether an abstract is necessary.

An abstract is written after your paper is completed.  It is typically one paragraph of 300 words or less that summarizes your paper and provides enough information so that the reader can decide whether it would be useful to read the rest of the paper.  It includes the purpose of the study, the design of your study (methods), results or findings, and conclusions. In other words, an abstract describes what you set out to do, how you did it, your results, and your conclusions based on the results.

There are different abstract formats for different types of studies.  These include empirical studies, literature reviews, theory-oriented papers, methodological papers, and case studies.  Each of these is discussed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed.), on pp. 25- 27.

If you include an abstract, begin on a new page right after the title page.  On the first line of the abstract page, center the word Abstract (do not bold, use italics, underlining, or quotation marks). Begin your abstract paragraph on the next line.  Do not indent the paragraph.


You may want to use appendices in a long paper such as a term project or dissertation. Rules to keep in mind:

  • The appendix appears after the reference list.
  • Each appendix should be labeled.  Name the first appendix Appendix A, the second Appendix B, etc.
  • The appendices should appear in the order that they are mentioned in your paper.
  • Start each appendix on a new page.
  • More detail about formatting appendices can be found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) starting on p. 38.