All through high school, and maybe even in middle school, teachers often encourage students to use MLA formatting for papers. It has been embedded in our brains for a long time that this is how papers should be set up. However, in college different areas of study may require students to learn a brand new formatting style for research papers. One of these formats is APA. Teachers who require this format will vary on how strictly they enforce its rules. However, you should always strive to be as accurate as possible, especially with your citations. I am going to share a couple of general ideas for those of you who have to make this paper formatting transition.
With APA some basic rules are: 1” margins, Times New Roman, and 12 point font (just like MLA). This format also includes having a page header that will appear on every page of your paper. To create your page header, go to the view tab and click header/ footer, or double click up at the very top of the page. It will take you to the design tab. Then find the Page # button and click on the one that puts the numbers in the top right corner of the page. You want to also include the title of your paper in all caps in the header directly to the left of the page number, just know it cannot exceed 50 words.
If you are doing a huge research project that includes a paper, your teacher may want you to also include a title page and abstract. On your title page, all you need is your name, title of your research, and other basic information such as the class and teacher’s name centered and directly in the middle of the page. To create your abstract, you will need to create a new blank page. It should still have your header at the top with the page number indicating it’s the first page. Your abstract is a summary of what you discuss in your paper. You will want to include what your research is about, your research questions, your methods, and so on. It is all of the key points you will be discussing in the paper. Then you just start writing the body of your paper without having to worry about an introduction.
Make sure you use your in-text citations for anything that is not your original thoughts and ideas or commonly known information. It is easier to add these while you are writing as opposed to going back and adding them. APA in-text citations use parenthesis with the last name of the author followed by a comma, space, and the year the article was published. If you are using a direct quote, also include the page number where you found your information. NOTE: the period for the sentence you are citing comes after the in-text citation.
Once you are done with your paper, it’s time to develop a work-cited page with all of your sources. Each paper should end with a list of the full references for each citation used. Of course, there is a specific format that should be used for each type of reference, and that is beyond the scope of this blog. The American Psychological Association (APA) produces and periodically updates a detailed manual packed with examples and descriptions of how to use this format. The Purdue OWL website also contains great quick-reference guides for APA formatting. It provides examples that are much more in depth and explains APA style citations for various types of sources.