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Welcome to the APA 7th Edition: Formatting Your Paper

Information on The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition is the official source for APA Style.

Reference List


Always start your reference list on a new page.

Page title - The word References should appear centered at the top of the page and in bold. If you have only 1 citation the title should be Reference. (Sect. 9.43, p. 303)

Line Spacing - Double space between each line. (Sect. 9.43, p. 303)

Alignment - The first line of each entry should align with the left margin. All subsequent lines should be formatted with a hanging indent set at 1/2 inch. (Sect. 9.43, p. 303)

Order of entries - Alphabetical order by author. If there is no author, use the title of the document. If you have more than one entry by the same author, then arrange by year beginning with the earliest publication. (Sect. 9.44, p. 303, Sect. 9.48 & Sect. 9.49, p. 306)

Reference List Checklist - Formatting requirements for the reference list and for the creation of references (Google Doc Version).

Sample Papers


You might find it helpful to look at a sample paper formatted in the APA style.

Short Sample Student Paper - includes the use of 2 levels of headings.

Long Sample Student Paper - includes figures, tables, and appendices.



NOTE: It is not possible to represent all the aspects that inevitably arise when writing a paper. Please consult the APA Manual, a librarian, the writing center, or your professor if you have questions.

Paper Set Up



APA has a number of rules for setting up an APA style paper that your instructor may want you to follow. The following information came from the 7th edition of the APA Manual. See the page number that follows each style rule for more information.


Document Format


Margins - 1 inch all sides, including top, bottom, left and right (Sect. 2.22, p. 45)

Font preference and size - Most instructors prefer the font set at 12-pt Times New Roman. However, APA does allow for other font types and sizes, including Calibri 11-point, Arial 11-point, Lucida Sans Unicode 10-point, or Georgia 11-point. Consult your instructor for their preferences. (Sect. 2.19, p. 44)

Line Spacing - Double spacing should occur throughout the entire document, including title page, reference list, and quotations of 40 or more words. NOTE: There are a few exceptions. (Sect. 2.21, p. 45)

Page Numbers - Page numbers should be located in the right corner of the header unless specified differently from your instructor. Be sure to include a page number on the title page, too! (Sect. 2.18, p. 44)

Paragraph Indentation - Paragraphs should be indented 1/2 inch. For consistency throughout the paper, click your Tab key one time. (Sect. 2.24, pp. 45-46)

 Additional Resources

Paper Format Checklist - basic formatting requirements for setting up an APA paper (Google Doc Version). 

Title Page for a Student Paper - guidelines from APA for setting up the title page for a student paper. 

More Information

For more information about formatting your paper, see the section numbers and additional resources outlined above and Chapter 2 of the APA Manual, 7th edition.

NOTE: Your instructor may prefer slight changes to these rules. Check with your instructor for any variations.


APA Headings


To organize the parts within the body of your paper, APA has five different levels of headings. Think of these levels similar to what an outline has and how the main topics have Roman numerals, subtopics have capital letters, the next level has Arabic numbers, and so on.

When considering the addition of headings to your paper, APA instructs that you should only add a heading if there will be 2 or more subsections using the same level heading. If you do not have at least 2 subsections using the same level heading, then do not include headings for the subsection. See Section 2.26 on page 47 for more information.  

Be aware that not all papers will require the use of headings. Ask your professor if they wish to have you use headings in your paper. Long, formal papers should have headings especially if they include an abstract at the beginning.

Here are the five levels and how they should be formatted:

1. Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading - Begin the text on a new line as a new paragraph.

2. Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading - Begin the text on a new line as a new paragraph. 

3. Left-aligned, Boldface, Italicized, Upper and Lowercase Heading  - Begin the text on a new line as a new paragraph. 

4. Indented, Boldface, Upper and Lowercase Heading, Ending With a Period. Begin the text on the same line as the heading and continue as a regular paragraph.

5. Indented, Boldface, Italicized, Upper and Lowercase Heading, Ending With a Period. Begin the text on the same line as the heading and continue as a regular paragraph. 


More Information:

For more information about headings, see Sections 2.26 & 2.27, Table 2.3, and Figures 2.4 and 2.5 on pages 47-49 of the APA Manual, 7th edition. Additionally, see the Headings Levels Template: Student Papers, created by APA to demonstrating what each heading would look like in an APA paper.

Printable versions of the heading levels are available here:

Advanced Formatting Help from APA