Formatting Research Paper in APA Style

APA style of formatting is one of the most widely used styles used to format research and thesis papers. In order to format research paper in APA style, one must essentially learn and get acquainted with the basic guidelines of APA formatting and style guide. As such, the fundamental guidelines for formatting research paper in APA style have been provided in details below.

Guidelines for Formatting Research Paper in APA Style

Document Setting

  • Page Margins: 1 inch margins on all sides.
  • Fonts: Preferably, 12 point, Times New Roman or Courier for text and Arial for figures.
  • Spacing: Text to be double-spaced throughout the paper.
  • Text Alignment: Text should be left aligned, with a ragged right margin. Do not hyphenate words.
  • Paragraph Indentation: First line of every paragraph should be indented.
  • Page Numbers: Starting with the title page, each page should be numbered.

Major Sections

While formatting research paper in APA style, the sections should be arranged in proper order: Title page, Abstract, Main Body, References, Appendixes, Tables, Figure Captions, Figures.

However, the major sections include: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, References.

Running Head

Running head is a short version of the paper’s full title, which is helpful for readers to spot the titles for published articles. Running head’s title should be in CAPITAL letters and within 50 characters (including spaces and punctuation). The running head should be present in each page, with the title “Running head” mentioned only on the title page, and not in the rest of the paper. The title should be left aligned, and page numbers right aligned.

Title Page

Title page should be the first page of manuscript, enlisting the title of the paper, author’s name and institutional affiliation, without mentioning titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD). APA formatting suggests that the title should be centre aligned and positioned in the upper half of the page. Besides, it should be limited to 12 words in length, without any abbreviations or trivial words, and should not be bolded, underlined, or italicised.

Author note

Author’s note provides the general information about the authors involved in the research. It includes the author’s departmental and institutional affiliation, changes in affiliation (if any), acknowledgments, funding sources, special circumstances and contact information, like postal address or e-mail.

Abstract and Keywords

Abstract should present a very clear and concise summary of the whole research paper. It helps the readers to swiftly assess the main idea and purpose of the research. Abstract should be limited to 150-250 words, with all acronyms and abbreviations defined properly.

A list of selected keywords should be provided in the abstract section, helping researchers to find your work in databases. The title “Keywords” should be italicised, and the sentence should be indented like the rest of the paper.

Section Heading

  • 1st level heading: Centre aligned, bold, and upper and lower case.
  • 2nd level heading: Left aligned, bold, and upper and lower case.
  • 3rd level heading: Indented 0.5” from the left margin, bold, and lower case (first word excluded).


References provide the information needed to find any cited source. All in-text citations should be provided in the reference list. Reference list should be arranged in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, or the first word in citation. All names should be cited for less than six authors, while for six or more authors, the first author’s name is followed by “et al.”. In-text citations (direct quotes) should mention author(s)’s name, publication year, and page number(s).

Tables and Figures

Each table should start on a new page. The table title and caption should be left aligned, while only the table caption should be italicised.

Figures captions should be provided separately on a new page. The figure label should be italicised and not the figure caption. Each figure should start on a new page, provided at the end of the paper.


Appendices are short contents that complement the research paper, but are not directly related to the text. Usually, appendices are mentioned in the body of the paper. In case of more than one appendix, use a capital letter, like Appendix A, Appendix B, etc., to identify them separately.

Above mentioned guidelines will help you to learn and get familiar with formatting research paper in APA style. However, it would be suggested to seek guidance from your instructor for his final word on the format and style needed to format the assigned paper.


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