APA Format Examples, Tips, and Guidelines

1
Title Page Example

An APA format title page
Kendra Cherry

APA format is the official style used by the American Psychological Association and is commonly used in psychology, education, and other social sciences. Check out this gallery of examples, tips, and guidelines for writing papers in APA format.

Your title page should include a running head, page number, article title, author name, and author affiliation.

The sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual contained a few changes to the format of an APA style title page.

  • Your title page should contain a running head that is flush left at the top of the page and a page number that is flush right at the top of the page.
  • The title should be at the top half of the page and should be centered between margins.
  • Use both upper-case and lower-case letters.
  • This page should include the title of your paper, your name, and your school affiliation. The APA suggests that your title is no more than 12 words in length. Avoid using titles or degree info (such as Dr. or Ph.D.) before and after your name.
  • Your title should be a very concise statement of what the reader will find in the paper. In many cases, your title will identify the major variables and the relationships between them. For example, "Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Math Performance" is an example of a succinct title that clearly describes what the paper is about.
  • The APA style guide also advises writers to avoid phrases such as "An Experimental Investigation on..." or "A Study of...". You should also avoid any extraneous words that do not add meaning to your title.

Learn more about how to write a title page.

2
Reference Pages in APA Format

An example of an APA format reference page
Kendra Cherry

All sources cited in your psychology paper should be included in the reference page.

The reference page should appear at the end of your APA paper. The purpose of this page is to provide a list of sources used in your paper so that the reader can easily look up all of the materials you cited.

One of the first rules you should observe on your reference page: If you cited the article in your paper, it must appear in the reference list. Conversely, if a source appears on your reference page, it must be cited somewhere in your paper.

Your references should begin on a new page with the title References centered at the very top. Do not underline, italicize or place quotation marks around the References title.

Some More Basic Reference Page Rules

  • Your references should be alphabetized by the last names of the first author of each source.
  • All references should be double-spaced.
  • Each reference should use a hanging indentation: the first line of the reference should be flush left, but each additional line of the reference needs to be indented.
  • In article titles, only the first letter should be capitalized. If a colon appears in the title, the first letter after the colon should also be capitalized. The title should not be placed in quotations, underlined or italicized.
  • All major words in the title of a journal should be capitalized; i.e. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
  • Longer works such as books and journals should appear in italics.
  • In the case where the same author is cited multiple times for different works, start by listing these references in chronological order with the oldest reference appearing first and working your way up to the most recent one.

Learn more about APA references:

3
Tables in APA Format

Example of a table in APA format
Kendra Cherry

Tables are a great way to display a great deal of information in a concise, clear and easy to read format.

In APA format papers, tables are generally used to describe the results of statistical analysis and other pertinent quantitative data. However, it is important to note that tables are not simply used to replicate data that has already been presented in the text of the paper and not all data should be presented in a table. If you have little numeric information to present, it should be described in the text of your paper.

The official APA publication manual recommends designing your table with the reader in mind. Strive to communicate data in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

Basic Rules for Tables in APA Format

  • All tables should be numbered (e.g. Table 1, Table 2, Table 3).
  • Each table should have an individual title, italicized and presented with each word capitalized (except and, in, of, with, etc.). For example, Correlations Between Age and Test Scores. Try to ensure that your title is neither too general nor too specific.
  • Each table should begin on a separate page.
  • Horizontal lines can be used to separate information and make it clearer. Do not use vertical lines in an APA format table.
  • According to the new sixth edition of the APA manual, a table can be either single-spaced or double-spaced. The key is to keep the table readable and the spacing consistent.
  • All tables should be referenced in the text of the paper.
  • Tables should be last, after your reference list and appendixes.
  • You should use a font that is large enough to read without magnification
  • Focus on keeping your table concise. Too much extraneous information can overwhelm and confuse the reader. Stick to reporting the most important data.
  • Remember that your table is there to supplement rather than replicate the text of your paper. Do not feel the need to discuss every element of your table in your text. Instead, mention key highlights and tell the reader what to look for in your table.

Table Headings

  • Table headings should be located flush right.
  • Each column should be identified using a descriptive heading.
  • The first letter of each heading should be capitalized.
  • Abbreviations for standard terms (e.g. M, SD, etc.) can be used without explanation. Uncommon definitions should be explained in a note below the table.

Additional Notes to an APA Format Table

If additional explanation is needed, a note can be added below the table. There are three kinds of notes: General notes, specific notes, and probability notes. General notes refer to some aspect of the entire table; specific notes refer to a particular column or row; probability notes specify the probability level.

A Quick Checklist

  • Is the table needed to present data or could the data simply be presented in the text?
  • Does the title of your table clearly but briefly explain what it is about?
  • Is the spacing consistent throughout the table?
  • Does the body of the paper refer to the table?
  • Is each column of the table clearly labeled?
  • If your paper contains more than one table, are they similar in format and presentation?
  • Are any special or uncommon abbreviations explained in notes?

References

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Author: Washington, DC.

4
Journal and Periodicals in APA Format

An examples of authors in APA format
Kendra Cherry

Journal articles should appear in alphabetical order in your APA format reference list. Consult the image below for examples of journal articles in APA format.

More APA Format Tips

Capitalize the first word in the title, subtitle, and proper nouns.

Italicize the name of the publication and the volume number.

Basic Rules

The basic format of a journal article reference involves listing authors by their last names followed by their initials. Next, the publication year is enclosed in parentheses and followed by a period. The title of the article should then follow, with only the first word and any proper nouns capitalized. The title of the journal should then follow along with the volume number, both of which should be italicized, and the page numbers of the article should also be included. Finally, a DOI number should be included if one is available.

5
Electronic Sources in APA Format

Example of electronic sources in APA format
Kendra Cherry

Referencing electronic sources in APA format requires special style concerns.

Electronic References Are Similar to Other References

The basic format of an electronic reference is very similar to that of any other reference. However, you do need to include the date the reference was retrieved from the Internet as well as the online location of the document. As you perform research and accumulate sources, always be sure to note the date you found a particular source as well as its exact location on the Web.

Use a Digital Object Identifier When Possible

Because online URLs can change, the APA recommends utilizing a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) in your references whenever possible. A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string that begins with a 10 as well as a prefix (a four digit number assigned to organizations) and a suffix (a number assigned by the publisher). Many publishers will include the DOI on the first page of an electronic document. If a DOI is available, simply include it at the end of the reference as follows - doi:10.0000/00000000000

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