Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Ask Us

APA Style 7th Edition: Paper Formatting

Step-by-Step Guide for APA Style Student Papers

Setting Up and Formatting a Student APA Paper

Setting Up and Formatting a Student APA Paper

If your paper will follow strict APA formatting, follow the steps below. Your paper should have three major sections: the title page, main body, and references list. The Publication Manual covers these guidelines in Chapter 2; the APA website also has a Quick Answers--Formatting page.

These guidelines will cover how to set up a student paper in APA format. The 7th edition now has specific formatting for student papers versus a professional paper (i.e. one being submitted for publication). If your instructor has requested a different format or additional elements, use your instructor's preferences.

Official Resources

1. Set the Margins to One Inch

Basics

The margins of the paper should be set to 1" (one inch) all around.

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Go to the Page Layout or Layout tab
  2. Click Margins
  3. Select the Normal option

Margins > Normal

2. Set the Spacing to Double

Basics

The line spacing for the paper should be set to double (2.0).

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Go to the Home tab
  2. In the Paragraph box, click the icon that looks like two up/down arrows with text to the right
  3. Pick 2.0
  4. Alternate Method: You can also press the Control Key along with the number 2 to quickly double space.

Paragraph > Spacing > 2.0

3. Create a Title for Your Paper

Basics

Your title should summarize the main topic of your paper. Try not to be too wordy or off-topic. While there is no word limit for titles, "short but sweet" is the goal. The APA Style Blog has further information on titles: Five Steps to a Great Title. Use title case for paper titles.

Example Titles

  • Attitudes of College Students Towards Transportation Fees
  • Effect of Red Light Cameras on Traffic Fatalities
  • Juror Bias in Capital Punishment Cases

4. Add Page Numbers to the Header

Basics

Insert the page number in the right area of the header. Use the built-in page numbering system; do not attempt to type each page number manually.

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Go to the Insert tab
  2. Under Header, select Edit Header (at the bottom)
    Header
    Edit Header
  3. Press Tab once or twice to go to the far right
  4. Click Page Number
  5. Click Current Position
  6. Click Simple / Plain Number
    Page Number > Current Position > Simple

5. Create the Title Page

Basics

Depending on your instructor's directions, on the first page you may need to include the following information:

  • Title of Your Paper
  • Your Name
  • Florida State College at Jacksonville
  • Course Number: Course Name
  • Instructor
  • Due Date

This information will be centered, and will be a few lines down from the top.

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Go to the top of the first page.
  2. Press Enter 3-4 times.
  3. Center your text.
  4. Type in the title of your paper, in bold.
  5. Press Enter twice, in order to have one blank line between the title and the next element.
  6. On the next line, type your full name.
  7. On the next line, type Florida State College at Jacksonville.
  8. On the next line, type your course number, a colon, and your course name.
  9. On the next line, type your instructor's name.
  10. On the next line, type the due date of the paper.

 

6. Set Up the References List

The references list should be on a new page, and should be the last section of your paper.

Heading of Reference List

The heading at the top of the reference list should say References at the top (not Bibliography or Works Cited, unless your instructor tells you otherwise) and bolded.

Hanging Indent

All reference lists should have a hanging indent. An example of a hanging indent is shown below:

George, M. W. (2008). The elements of library research: What every student needs to know. Princeton University Press.

To create a hanging indent in Word, you can press the Control key along with the letter T.

control+ T

Spacing

Line spacing in the reference list should be set to double (2.0).

Alphabetizing

When organizing your references list, you must alphabetize your references. Generally, you will organize by the author's last name. Go letter by letter and ignore spaces, hyphens, punctuation etc.

If a work has no author, use the title to alphabetize. You will use the first significant word to alphabetize; this means you skip words like the, a, and an.

Example of Proper Order:

  1. Alcott, L. M. (1868)...
  2. Alcott, L. M. (1893)...
  3. Anonymous. (1998). Beowulf...
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.).
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017).
  6. Etiquette in Florida. (n.d.).
  7. Grammar Girl. (2009, May 21)...
  8. Johnson, C. L., & Tuite, C. (Eds.). (2009)...
  9. Johnson, S. K. (2003)...
  10. Oxford English dictionary (2nd ed.). (1989)...
  11. A prescription for health care. (2009). Consumer Reports...
  12. Southeast Asia. (2003). In The new encyclopaedia Britannica...

Source: Publication Manual, 2.12; 9.44-9.49

But What About...?

The Font?

APA does not specify a specific font or size, just that it must be legible. Their only guidelines is that the same font should be used throughout the paper. Some suggestions are 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, 12-point Times New Roman, and 11-point Georgia.

If your instructor has specified a font or font size, follow those guidelines.

Source: Publication Manual, 2.19

The Running Head?

Student papers do not need a running head.

Source: Publication Manual, 2.8; 2.18