Nathan D.
Nathan D.

APA Format (7th Edition) - Updated Guidelines

18 min read

Published on: Mar 29, 2024

Last updated on: Apr 29, 2024

APA Format

Not sure how to structure your paper following APA style guidelines?

If you're feeling unsure about the details of APA formatting, you're in the right spot!

Whether you're a student or a professional, understanding the basics of APA (American Psychological Association) style is important, given its widespread use in professional paper citations. 

That's why we've created this comprehensive blog to inform you about all the essential details of APA formatting. With some examples towards the end, you'll gain a solid understanding of how a paper follows APA style.

Let's start right away!

What is the APA Format?

APA Format, short for the American Psychological Association, is a standardized way of presenting academic papers. It establishes guidelines for layout, citations, and references, for professional papers. 

By following APA rules, writers enhance clarity, consistency, and the overall quality of their research work. This format is ideal for academic writing and promotes effective communication and credibility among scholars and researchers. 

Whether you're a student or a seasoned academic, mastering APA guidelines is critical for delivering well-structured and academically sound papers.

Expert Tip

You can also checkout our guide on citation styles to learn more about other citation formats being used in academia. 

Currently, the latest APA citation format edition is APA 7th Edition. Let’s see what changes the latest edition brings to academic research papers. 

What’s Changed in the APA Format 7th Edition?

In the 7th Edition of the APA Publication Manual, some key changes were introduced to simplify citing and enhance accessibility. Notable updates include:

  • APA 7th Edition simplifies citing for accessibility
  • Streamlined in-text citation system emphasizes authors and publication years
  • Inclusivity promoted with guidelines for citing diverse source types, including social media
  • Adjustments made to student paper formatting for simplicity

These changes aim to enhance user-friendliness while maintaining academic credibility and consistency

Having explored the changes in the APA 7th Edition, let's now see how you should organize your paper’s structure within the APA format.

Paper Structure in the APA Format

Let's now explore the fundamental elements of paper structure in the APA format.

  • Headings and Subheadings

Use clear headings to organize content and maintain a hierarchy with subheadings for detailed sections.

  • Font and Margins

Choose a readable font like Times New Roman. Use a font size of 12. Set margins at 1 inch on all sides for a professional look

  • Title Page

Include the title, author name, and institutional affiliation, and follow specific guidelines for title page elements.

  • Page Header

Insert a concise title in the page header and place the page number on the top right corner.

  • Abstract Format

Summarize your paper in a brief, structured abstract and keep it between 150-250 words.

  • Tables and Figures

Number tables and figures in the order they appear, provide clear titles and sources for tables and figures

Here is a detailed breakdown of each structural element of an APA formatted document. 

APA Format: Title Page

When creating the title page in APA format, follow these detailed guidelines:

Title Placement

  • The title should be centered in the upper half of the page
  • Use both uppercase and lowercase letters as needed for the title
  • Avoid using abbreviations in the title unless necessary
  • Use double-spacing for the APA title page and the entire paper as well

Author Information 

  • Below the title, write your full name
  • If applicable, include the names of any additional authors
  • Beneath the names, include the institutional affiliation (e.g., the university or organization)

Running Head

  • Create a running head, which is a shortened version of your title
  • It should be aligned to the left in uppercase letters
  • The running head should not exceed 50 characters, including spaces
  • Place the running head on the same line as the page number

Page Number

  • In the top right corner of the page, insert the page number
  • Precede the page number with the term “page,” followed by a space

Take a look at the sample APA style title page below: 

APA Format

Margins and Headings

For APA format headings and margins, follow the below guidelines:

Here is the format for your APA style paper’s headings: 

1st Level: Centered, Bold, and Title Case

2nd Level: Bold, Title Case, Flush Left

3rd Level: Bold, Italic, Title Case, Flush Left

           4th Level: Bold, Title Case, Indented, Ending with a Period.

           5th Level: Bold, Italic, Title Case, Indented, Ending with a Period.

How to Format the Abstract 

Your APA formatted paper also includes a brief abstract of the entire document. Here’s how you should format the abstract:

  • Begin on a new page after the title page
  • Center the word “Abstract” at the top (no bold or italics)
  • Write a concise summary of your paper, typically 150-250 words
  • Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, or references in the abstract
  • Include keywords below the abstract (italicized, not bold)

Tables and Figures in The APA Format

As per the latest APA format guidelines, you should include tables and figures in your documents, wherever necessary. Follow the below instructions to accurately format your tables and figures according to the APA style: 

  • Place tables and figures close to where they are mentioned in the text
  • Each table or figure should have a bold, brief, and descriptive title
  • Use consistent formatting and font style throughout
  • Include source notes below the table or figure if necessary
  • Refer to tables and figures in the text by their number (e.g., Table 1, Figure 2)

Following these simple guidelines guarantees that your tables and figures are clear, easy to understand, and seamlessly integrated into your APA-formatted paper.

You can also check out this detailed blog on formatting apa style tables and figures for further reference. 

How to Cite Sources in the APA Citation Format?

To cite sources in an APA paper, there’s a two-step procedure to give credit to the works you reference in your paper. First, you have to cite sources in-text, and then the reference list entries will correspond to the APA in-text citations you mentioned.

Let’s see how to format both in-text citations and reference lists in the APA formatting style, one by one. 

APA Format In-Text Citation 

For citing sources within the text of your document, two things must appear:

  • Author’s last name
  • Year of publication 

There are different scenarios where you will have to format the citations differently. Let’s take a look at examples to understand the scenarios better. 

Author's Name in Sentence

You can include the author's last name as part of the sentence.

Example: According to Garcia (2017), proper nutrition is vital for maintaining good health.

Author's Name in Parentheses

If the author's name is not part of the sentence, include the last name and the publication year in parentheses at the end.

Example: Recent studies highlight the importance of cultural diversity in workplaces (Cooper, 2020).

Two Authors

For two authors, use an ampersand (&) when citing in parentheses.

Example: Collaboration enhances creativity (Turner & Patel, 2018).

Three or More Authors

For three or more authors, use “et al.” after the first author's name in both sentence and parenthetical citations.

Example: Harrison et al. (2019) found that exercise improves cognitive function.

No Author

If a source has no author, use the first few words of the title in the in-text citation.

Example: (“Managing Stress,” 2016).

Page Number for Direct Quotations

When quoting directly from a source, include the year of publication, author name, and the page number. Use quotation marks 


  • According to a study by Walker (2017), “Navigating APA citation in essays and research papers proves challenging for students” (p. 200).
  • “The sky is the limit” (Rodriguez, 2015, p. 76).

APA Format References

A list of references shows where you got the information, giving credit to the authors whose words support your main topic.

Formatting the Reference Page

To make a correct APA reference page, follow these rules:

  • Alphabetical Order: Put your references in ABC order based on the authors' last names. If there's no author, use the title for sorting.
  • Hanging Indent: Indent the second and later lines of each reference entry by 0.5 inches (1.27 cm). Keep the first line left-aligned.
  • Italics: Make book, journal, and long work titles italic.
  • Capitalize: Always start the title with a capital letter. Also, capitalize the first letter after a colon in the title.
  • Date: Add the publication date in brackets, followed by a dot.
  • Page Numbers: For articles from a journal or magazine, share the page range, like (pp. 42-56).
  • Electronic Sources: Include the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) for journal articles when you can. If not, use the URL.

The way you list websites, books, and journals is different. Each has its own rules. Check out our blog on 'order of references for APA style', to learn these rules in detail. 

Reference Examples in the APA Format


Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of book: Capital letter also for subtitle. Publisher.


Johnson, A. L. (2010). The Power of Resilience. Stellar Books.

Books without Authors

Title of book: Capital letter also for subtitle. (Year of publication). Publisher.


Encyclopedia of Marvels. (2015). Mystic Publications.

Books with Multiple Authors

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year of publication). Title of book: Capital letter also for subtitle. Publisher.


Parker, M. J., Adams, S. R., & Taylor, L. G. (2007). Exploring the Universe. Cosmic Press.

Journal Articles

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number(issue number), page range. DOI or URL


Smith, R. A., White, M. L., & Brooks, E. K. (2018). Exploring new frontiers in neuroscience. Journal of Cognitive Studies, 25(2), 45-62. DOI:10.1080/xxxxxxx


Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day of publication). Title of webpage. Name of Website. URL


Johnson, K. R. (2021, September 20). The Art of Photography. Photography World. 

Newspaper Articles

Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day of publication). Title of article. Title of Newspaper, page range. URL (if applicable)


Adams, P. L. (2019, July 5). Breakthroughs in renewable energy. The Washington Post, pp. A3, A7.

Dictionary Entry

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of entry. In Title of Dictionary. Publisher. URL (if applicable)


Taylor, A. M. (2012). Quantum Mechanics. In American Encyclopedia of Physics. Quantum Publishing. 

You can also read comprehensive guidelines about adding APA reference entries to learn more. 

APA Format Appendix

Sometimes you may be required to add the appendix to your APA format academic papers. Usually the appendix comes after the reference page. 

  • Elaborate explanations
  • Extensive lists
  • Group of articles supporting data
  • Demographic details for studied subpopulations

For more than one appendix, follow the below instructions:

  • Provide a title for each appendix
  • Start the initial paragraph of text from the left margin
  • Indent the first line of subsequent paragraphs by ½ inch
  • Utilize Times New Roman font, size 12
  • Make sure that the text is formatted with double-spacing

APA Format Checklist 

For a flawless APA format paper, you should follow a checklist. A checklist makes sure that you filter out every single error from your academic document. 

APA Paper Format Checklist


1. Title Page

- Title centered in the upper half

- Author's name and affiliation below the title

- Running head (if applicable)

- Page number in the top right corner

2. Abstract

- Brief summary of the paper

- Concise, within 150-250 words

3. Main Body

- Organized with clear headings

- Times New Roman font, size 12

- Double-spacing throughout

- 1-inch margins on all sides

4. In-Text Citations

- Author's last name and year in parentheses

- Page number for direct quotes

5. References Page

- Alphabetical order by author's last name

- Hanging indent for each entry

6. Appendices

- Labeled sequentially (A, B, etc.)

- Each with a title

- Consistent formatting: 12 pt. font, double-spacing

7. General Formatting

- Consistent use of font and spacing throughout

- Page numbers in the top right corner

- Overall clarity and readability

By following this checklist, you can give your academic papers a professional look and omit any possibility of missing out on a costly mistake. 

Expert Tip

Along with APA, another most commonly used citation format is the MLA citation style. Read our blog on 'APA vs MLA' to learn the differences between both formats. 

To sum up, by following the outlined steps, your academic writing will achieve clarity, consistency, and professionalism, thanks to the APA format. Whether you're incorporating citations as you write or compiling a reference list, APA format ensures everything appears orderly and well-organized.

Give our blog a visit whenever you require formatting your papers according to the APA format 7th. Edition. 

Generate Accurate and Precise APA Citations With

Crafting citations and references can be challenging, even with thorough guidance due to the multitude of rules. But fear not, we have the perfect solution for you! Try out our citation machine. The APA citation generator at can effortlessly generate flawless citations for your convenience!

Our citation tool also aids in sourcing reliable and relevant references for your topic. Give it a try today and leverage these sources to strengthen your arguments and elevate the effectiveness of your paper.

Note: All information given in this article about the APA Style Referencing has been obtained from the official manual, that can be accessed at:

Nathan D.


Nathan D. (Literary analysis)

Introducing Nathan D., PhD, an esteemed author on With a profound background in Literary Analysis and expertise in Educational Theories, Nathan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to his writings. His passion for dissecting literature and exploring educational concepts shines through in his meticulously crafted essays and analyses. As a seasoned academic, Nathan's contributions enrich our platform, offering valuable perspectives and engaging content for our readers.

Introducing Nathan D., PhD, an esteemed author on With a profound background in Literary Analysis and expertise in Educational Theories, Nathan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to his writings. His passion for dissecting literature and exploring educational concepts shines through in his meticulously crafted essays and analyses. As a seasoned academic, Nathan's contributions enrich our platform, offering valuable perspectives and engaging content for our readers.

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