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Using APA Style and General Document Guidelines

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Using APA Style

            The APA format is developed by the American Psychological Association for the use of all of its publications. This style has been adopted by others when citing social sciences subjects but it is most commonly used in psychology classes (American Psychological Association [APA], 2008). This style serves as guidelines for social academic writing. These guidelines require APA style users to follow rules in content and structure of the paper, writing style, citing references, and how papers should be organized for publication.

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Using this style makes the paper easy to read because it divides the paper into sections that present information to a reader in a friendly way (On-line Writing Lab [OWL] at Purdue University, 2004).

General Document Guidelines

            Paper size is standard, 8.5 x 11 inches (OWL at Purdue University, 2004). Margins on all sides (top, bottom, left, and right) should be one inch. Font size is 12 pt, with either a Times New Roman or Courier as style, but Times New Roman is preferred.

Line spacing is double spaced from the title page up to last page of the paper (references, appendixes, footnotes, or figures). Though this is generally accepted in almost all kinds of writing, it is still worth mentioning that one (1) space after all punctuations is required.  Paragraphs should be left-aligned with five to seven spaces for indention.  Page numbers should be placed on the upper right portion of each page as a header, except in figures and tables page(s) if they are present. All of the pages should have a page header that that has the first two or three words of the title, placed five spaces to left of the page number Order of pages should be as follows: Title page, Abstract (if required), Body, References (Dagelman and Harris, 2007).


            The title page should have of course, the title of the paper, the title should be around 10 – 12 words long (ideally) and is centred in the page. Below the title of the paper is the author’s name and the organization or school the author belongs to. Above each page of the paper is the running head. The running head is the simplified title of the paper, five spaces to its right is the page number. The words “Running Head” should only be typed at the first page of the paper followed by the simplified title in capital letters (OWL at Purdue University, 2004).

The Abstract is a single paragraph that summarizes that paper. It should be an independent page and should not exceed more than 120 words. All numbers should be written in their digit form (except when it begins a sentence). The heading “Abstract: is center aligned, and the first line is not indented. Abstract is not always required, it is best to ask first the instructor before doing the paper. The body of the paper should begin on a separate paper, following the abstract or title page but subsections are not written on independent papers. The title of the paper is placed on the center of the page on the first line of the paper. Directly below the title is the introduction without the label “introduction,” and is indented. The body of the paper is divided and is marked by headings. Headings are used to identify different subsections in the body (Vanguard University and Dagelman, 2007). The format of the headings depends on how many headings are present in the body of the paper. One level headings have the first heading centered using upper and lower case headings. Two level headings have the second level indented to the left and italicized. Three level headings have the third level indented, italicized, in lower case end ending with a period. It is immediately followed by the text of that paragraph. Four and five level headings follow the same trend, except that on five level headings, the first level is written in upper case letters (OWL at Purdue University, 2004). References are all the sources that were cited in the body of the paper or vice-versa. Whichever way we look at it, both in text citations and the sources in the references page should match. The references page(s) is separated from the body of the paper. Its heading [References] should be placed on the center of the page, directly below the page header. References are written on the next line immediately after the reference heading. References are arranged alphabetically by the surnames of the authors. Reference entries are composed primarily of three parts, the name of the author, the year of the publication, and the source reference. Authors’ names are written surname first followed by the initials. Separate multiple authors of same books with commas, if there are more than 6 authors, use “et al.” In case of unknown authors, use the title of the document or the organization that own the sources. After the author(s)’ name, inside parentheses, is the year of publication. If no date is available, indicate “n.d.” inside the parentheses. Reference source has the title of the source where it was taken, in journals, volume number and pages, city of publication, and publisher (for books). Titles of books, periodicals, and volume numbers should be italicized (Vanguard University and Dagelman, 2007).

in-text citations. In-text citations using the APA format is written in the author-date format. The author’s last name followed by the year of the publication should be written inside a parenthesis, e.g.,(Meier, 1988). Some capitalization rules: if the title of the source is written instead of the author’s name, words longer than four letters should be capitalized, but in the reference list, only the first word is capitalized. First letters of compound words with hyphens should be capitalized, and words immediately after a colon or dash are capitalized. Italicize book, movie, and album names while use quotation marks on shorter versions like journals and TV shows (The Writng Lab & The Owl at Purdue and Purdue University, 2008).

            All of these information are just some of the lessons learned in using the APA style of writing. There are more specific guidelines that were learned in the study of this particular style but I opted to write the basic guidelines.


American Psychological Association. (2008). APA Style. September 10, 2008. from:


OWL at Purdue University and Purdue University. (2004). Introduction to APA style.

September 10, 2008. from: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/workshops/hypertext/apa/introduction.html

Dagelman D. & Vanguard University. (2007). APA style essentials. September 10,

            2008. from: http://www.vanguard.edu/faculty/ddegelman/index.aspx?doc_id=796


Cite this Using APA Style and General Document Guidelines

Using APA Style and General Document Guidelines. (2016, Jul 04). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/using-apa-style/

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