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How to write a paper in APA and receive accolades

Students all over the world struggle in learning to write an essay in APA because not only is it hard to adapt to, but many students do not necessarily know the significance of this format. The APA – American Psychological Association style of writing is commonly used in the discipline of social sciences, particularly to cite sources. The first step in writing a paper in APA is beginning by typing your essay, double-spaced and on a standard sized paper (8.5 inches x 11 inches) with a one-inch margin on every side. The typescript should be simple to read and clear, with the APA recommendation of Times New Roman font at 12 pt. Furthermore, you need to add a page header which is also known as the running head at the top of each and every page. To do so, you should insert page numbers at the extreme right and then type ‘title of your paper’ inside the left header making sure each letter is in capital letters. The character limit of the running head is 50 characters – this includes spacing and punctuation. It is essentially an abridged version of your paper’s title. There are certain regulations that should be respected when you write an essay in APA, this includes dividing your paper into four separate parts: the Title page, Abstract, Main Body and References. This is one of the most significant aspects in understanding how to write a paper in APA.

What each section says about you: Title Page

The Title Page will be the first page that your professor or anyone will see. The information on the Title Page should be only the essentials and be placed in a clear, easily readable font. The title of the paper, the author’s name and importantly, the institution affiliation should be clearly written on this page. Furthermore, like we mentioned above, the page header and the page number should be present at the top of the page, flush left and flush right, respectively. The title should be appropriately written in upper and lowercase letters and be placed in the centre of the upper half of the page. The APA recommendation for the word limit of your title is 12 words in length that ideally should not include any abbreviations or words which are unnecessary and it is acceptable that your title takes up one line or even two. The text on the title page should be double-spaced, all of it. When typing the author’s name, make sure not to include titles (Dr.) or even degrees (PhD) – a simple: first name, middle initial(s) and last name will suffice. The institutional affiliation underneath that is significant because it highlights where the research was conducted by this particular author. The Abstract should start from a new page and already have the page header as described previously.

The Abstract is the summary

The first line of this page should have the word “Abstract” in the center with no bold, italics, underlining, quotation marks or formatting. The abstract should contain a concise and coherent summary of the key points of your research, but you do not need to indent it. It should ideally have your research topic along with the research questions, methods, results, data analysis and the significant conclusions. If need be, you can possibly also include the consequences or implications of your research, and what you anticipate in the future with regards to it – placing importance on future work with regards to the findings of your research. The abstract should be a single paragraph which is double-spaced and between 150-250 words. Furthermore, listing the keywords from your paper would be a good idea – make sure that ‘Keywords:’ is italicized followed by a listing of the keywords to aid researchers to locate and find your paper in the databases.

Main Body and the Reference Page

The following Main Body will contain the text of your research and the details about it. The main body text depends on the type of paper you are wishing to write. For example, there is a difference between writing an essay as opposed to a lab report. The main body of the essay will contain essentially the actual essay in the main body, whereas the lab report will have four components in its main body page: introduction, method, results and discussion sections. After the completion of this page, you should begin typing on a new page with the title of ‘References’ present at the center. This is the title text and should be typed at the top of the page. The references page is there to list all of the sources that you used in your paper and hence it is important that you go about this with a systematic and effective approach. The entries that you make should be in alphabetical order and the first line of reference should ideally be flush with the left margin and each additional line that you make should be indented. The authors’ names should be presented inverted which means the last name first and if there are multiple articles written by the same author, you must list the entries in chronological order – from earliest to most recent. Furthermore, the journal title should be written in full and all the major words in the journal titles should be capitalized. This section needs to be double-spaced and all the sources should appear both in the actual text and on the reference page at the end. This works in a two-way direction and any reference that appears in your text needs to be jotted down at the reference page while any reference cited at the end of the page needs to be present in the text itself. The titles should be presented in italics; these include those of books, journals, magazines and newspapers. However, shorter works such as journal articles or essays in edited collections need not be italicized, underlined or put in quotations. It is important to note that the online articles follow the same rules and guidelines for the printed articles and when you put them in your references you should include all the information the online host makes available which would include an issue number in parentheses. Most students struggle with writing an APA format essay and hence there are many tools on the internet which can provide assistance with regards to the technicalities of the APA format. A free APA citation machine is a helpful way to assemble and systematize your references while you work on your research.


Your writing style is very important

The complexities of learning how to write a paper in APA format extend to the particulars of writing stylistics as well, for those who wish to write in APA format need to pay particular attention to the point of view they present their article in. When writing, you are allowed to use the first person perspective and point of view if you are discussing the research step you carried out or when you are referring to your co-authors and yourself. A basic rule should be adopted which is to foreground the research and not the researchers. Be sure to use an active voice as opposed to a passive voice as well. Furthermore, the APA style encourages clarity, coherency and conciseness. The objective is to make sure your research is comprehensible and you do not unnecessarily use convoluted and complex sentences that ultimately confuse the readers. To goal is not to be vague but rather very specific when it comes to descriptions and explanations. You should be able to provide appropriate, valuable information to your readers so that they can successfully follow and appreciate the progress of your research and study. Furthermore, in order to effectively learn how to write a paper in APA, you should be very selective of your choice of words and be careful not to use overly poetic expressions or literary language. The aim is to effectively and clearly communicate your work to the reader; hence the use of flowery descriptions and superfluous adjectives is thoroughly discouraged.

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