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APA Style Guide: Document Formatting

This guide is a resource for preparing papers according to the rules of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

APA Style Paper Format

Order of Sections within the Paper

Title page

  • Title pages must include 5 elements: title, running head, author byline, institutional affiliation, and author note. It should be numbered as page 1.
  • A title should generally be no longer than 12 words, succinct and explanatory. It should appear in the upper half of the page, centered between the side margins.
  • A running head is an abbreviated title, no more than 50 characters, on the top left-hand size of every page in all caps. On the title page, the words "Running head" appear before the abbreviated title. Starting on page 2, only the abbreviated title appears. For how to format these two different headers, see the video to the right for the exact steps to follow in Word.
  • Authors names should appear in the format: John Q. Researcher. Institutional affiliation, on the next line, should be formatted as: Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Student papers do not require an author note.


  • The abstract is on page 2. Abstracts should briefly and comprehensively summarize the article contents. For details on what must be included in an abstract for different types of papers (empirical studies, literature reviews, etc.), see the  APA Manual, pages 26-27.


  • The text of the paper starts on page 3.


  • Number footnotes consecutively. Use superscript numbers, and place them after any punctuation. Footnotes should appear at the bottom of the page on which they appear or in a separate footnotes page after the references.
  • Content footnotes should be included only if they offer substantive, necessary information. Each should contain only 1 idea. In general, incorporating footnote content into the paper is preferred over using footnotes.
  • Copyright permission footnotes acknowledge reprinted figures, lengthy quotations, etc.

Tables and Figures

  • These sections follow the text. Each should begin on a separate page. Use a separate page for each figure, and be sure to include a caption.


  • The References page should have the word References, centered, at the top. References should be double-spaced, hanging-indented, and alphabetized by the last name of the first author.


  • Each appendix should appear on a separate page. The word Appendix and an identifying letter (A, B, C, etc.) should appear, centered, at the top of each page. Underneath, center the appendix title using upper and lowercase letters, and begin appendix text all the way to the left. Subsequent paragraphs should be indented. Appendices should be presented in the order in which they are mentioned in the text. 

Formatting Aspects

Margins and alignment:

Uniform margins of at least 1" on all 4 sides of the page. Do not justify lines. Do not break words across lines.


Use a uniform font and font size throughout. Times New Roman, 12 point, is the preferred font. A sans serif font is acceptable for figures. Except for the running head (see below), the paper title and section titles should have only initial letters capitalized (i.e. Title of This Paper, References, Appendices, etc.).


Double space all lines of text, and after every line in the title, headings, footnotes, quotes, references, and figure captions. Single or 1.5 spacing is only acceptable in tables and figures.


Indent the first line of paragraphs and footnotes. Use the tab key (5-7 spaces or 1"). Exceptions: abstract, block quotations, titles, headings, table titles and notes, and figure captions.


The formatting for headings varies by the level of each section within the body of the paper. See the Example Document pages 3 - 4 or the APA Publication Manual pages 62-63.

Page numbers:

The title page is page 1; all pages are then numbered consecutively beginning with 2. Use the running header and page number on every page. Generate running headers and page numbers using the functions in Word; do not type them manually on every page.

Basics of APA Style Paper Set-up

How to Format a Paper in APA Style