Introduction

The APA method of citation, fully known as the American Psychological Association, is a standard and most used format for writing research papers as well as scientific ones. The fields that mostly use this format are mostly business, economics, psychology, sociology, and medicine. The new edition of APA, that is the 7th edition, is an upgrade of the 6th edition with minor changes like the absence of the ‘running head’ title in the header section. The main objectives of this format of writing are dividing one’s report into the right sections by following basic guidelines of formatting.

The significant components one has to have in mind while using this style of writing is having a strong introduction, followed by the methods, results, and discussion sections. The referencing comes at the end with tables and figures if required.  The abstract comes at the beginning of the paper and should not miss. These being the general format of the APA style of writing 7th edition, this essay aims at discussing each in detail. This includes the general appearance of the paper in terms of fonts and spacing, among others, for a good-to-go piece.

Formatting the APA Paper

Formatting the title page and abstract comes first at the beginning of the paper. In starting the essay, one should first set the layout parameters of the paper. In APA style, the required font to be used is the 12 point and should be double spaced throughout the document. The margins all-round the paper should be one inch and this basic layout should be used on every page of the paper for a uniform type of appearance that makes the paper easily readable. The second step under formatting the title page is coming up with an appropriate title for the essay. The title should be short, brief, and to the point. The word count for a title can be 10 to 12 words, and it should give the readers a clear sense of what the paper is about. It should also be centered on the paper. The third step is including the name of the student and that of the institution below the title. In this section, double-spacing is still recommended, but there is no need for the extra spaces in between the title and this information. 

Generally, the title page should have the four major components, that is, the author’s or student’s name and that of the institution, the title, and the author’s note if requested by the professor in charge. The fourth step in formatting the title page includes making use of the page header. The page header, also known as the running head, should be present on every page of the paper. The running head is a short synopsis of the title of the paper, which should be in all caps and with fewer than 50 characters of word count. The label ‘running head’, however, is not present in the 7th edition of APA as it was in the 6th edition on the title page. This change marks a major difference between the two editions of the APA style of writing. The point to note is that this label should only be present on page 1 but omitted with only the abbreviated title current in the other pages, still in the uppercase letters. The page number is part of the header, the only difference being it is aligned right on the page, starting with page one. The default distance of the title from the top is one inch, although some instructors might request half an inch.

The name of the author, as mentioned above, comes below the title of the paper, double-spaced and centered too. Point to note is that in cases of two or more authors of the paper, the conjunction ‘and’ is used between the names without any quotes present. The name of the institution, as mentioned also, comes below the author’s name and is also double-spaced. In cases of any additional information needed by the professor in charge like the course title, among others, they should be placed below the name of the institution, with double-spacing and on separate lines. The abstract, generally, is the summary of the paper and should be around 150 to 250 words. It lightly defines the research problem, the methods, the findings, and the deductions of one’s study. One should write the abstract after completing the paper and should be on a separate page. The format is the same as mentioned earlier.

The abstract also has its primary format starting with the running head that should be aligned to the top-left of the page. The first line should be the heading ‘Abstract’ and centered without any formatting. No part of the text in the abstract should be indented, and the text should be double-spaced. The font used is Times New Roman with 12 points as the font size and should be set one inch from the margin. In cases of keywords required in the abstract, this section comes at the end with the first line titled ‘Keywords’ indented and italicized. No formatting is needed in this section. A good abstract should answer the four main questions; that is, what is the problem?

One should outline the objectives, the research questions, and hypotheses if required. The second question is, what has been done? In this section, one should explain the methods used to collect the information on the research. The third question is, what did you discover? In this section, one summary of the essential findings and conclusions of the study. The final question is, what do the results mean? And in this section, one summarizes the discussion and the recommendations of the research. The keywords used at the end of the abstract are mostly utilized for indexing if one’s paper is published on a database. Listing one’s keywords helps the researchers find one’s work. When writing the keywords, one should make sure that they accurately represent the content and are specific to one’s field.

Main Body of the Paper

Creating the main body is the next part of the APA format of writing. Headings in APA should be bold and centered with all major words capitalized. The subheadings, on the other hand, should be aligned left and bold, with all major words capitalized as well. The first step of creating the main body is to introduce the paper; thus, the first section of an APA style paper is the introduction. This part does not have to be labeled as one needs to write the title of the article on a separate page and begin the opening on the line below it. The introduction should be a summary of the topic, the relevance of the subject to other research, and how one arrived at the hypothesis. In the introduction, the writer should keep things interesting by avoiding boring content like lists. Instead, one should write in terms of ideas, like referencing researchers on what they said about the topic.

After introducing the paper, the next step is labeling the methods section. After the introduction, the word ‘method’ is written in bold and centered. This section of the paper is the easiest, and it should describe in detail but simple terms the exact design of the research. The body of the paper is the content of the research paper as it contains all the information of the study in detail from how the research came about, how the data was collected and analyzed. The method section is divided into subsections to show the participants of the investigation, the materials used during the research, and the procedures used in the study. No page breaks are used in any of these subsections or any other sections of the paper. The subsections should be titled, that is, ‘Procedures,’ ‘Participants,’ ‘Materials,’ etc. in bold and aligned left. Each paragraph should begin on the next line. The method section aims to show other researchers how to replicate the study if they wanted to.

After the method section, the next part of the paper is sharing the result under the ‘results’ heading. The title should be in bold print and centered and should come after the last subsection of the method section. Statistics should be included in analyzing the study if applicable. Any supplementary materials used in the paper like charts, graphs, and images, among others, should be made references. For instance, in cases of a figure, one might label it like ‘As figure 3 indicates…’ The other fourth part of the main body is the discussion section where the writer tells the reader the significance of their work. The section should be labeled ‘Discussion’ in bold print and centered after the results section, just like the others. In this section, the writer should discuss concepts like the findings of the research and if they much the writer’s hypotheses. The limits of the study are also to be acknowledged in this section of the paper as well as mentioning recommendations to other scholars basing on one’s findings.

Finishing Touches

The third part of the APA style of writing is applying the finishing touches which come at the end of the paper. The finishing touches include the reference section, which provides for all the sources that one used in the study. These sources should be cited according to the current APA style guidelines. The title of this section is ‘References,’ which should be centered and in bold type. The references should be recorded following the alphabetic order, according to the last name of the first author. No extra space is needed between each reference, as regular double spacing is all that is required.

Hanging indentation is used for the reference entries where the first line of each reference entered is aligned flush the left margin, and each succeeding sentence has a hanging indent of half an inch. A point to note is that for every in-text citation in a research paper, there must be a matching entry in the list of references provided. In APA, the in-text citations use the author’s last name and the year of publication, for example, (Kafka, 2010). In cases of in-texting a speech, the citation includes the title, year, and page number as well, for example, (Kafka, 2010, p.4). For sources from, for instance, websites and articles without page numbers, the writer uses a paragraph number when writing an in-text citation, for example, (Kafka, 2010, para.5).

Web pages are cited the same way in in-text as any other material. The author’s name and the date are included if known. In such cases, the name may be an association and not a person. In such instances, where the sources have no authors, the title is used. In cases where the sources have no dates, the abbreviation ‘n.d.’ is used in the place of the year, for example, (Scott, n.d.). The main rule behind in-text citations is that it should closely precede the word, phrase, or title to which they are openly significant, rather than appearing at the end of long clauses or sentences. The location of the in-text also varies; for instance, it can appear in parentheses for example (Smith, 2015). It can also be part of the narrative; for example, Smith (2015) claimed that. In cases of multiple works, they should be separated with semi-colons, for example (Smith, 2015; Valdez, 2018). In cases of in-text citations on a direct quote, the page number is included, and quotation marks must be present around the direct quote; for example, in his speech, Francis claims that “Life is a cycle that all living things live in” (Kafka, 2010, p. 20).

Conclusion

The APA format of writing is significant for research papers as it is detailed and well-organized, thus making reading and marking easier. As mentioned above, the fields that mostly require this format of writing are crucial occupations that require keenness, which from the description above, we can see why. APA style of writing is effortless, especially for students doing research works thus can easily for the guidelines provided for a quality paper.

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