APA Formatting: APA Style Niceties as Your Secret Weapon

If you are too busy to dig through the multi-volume APA citation style manuals, you are not alone. The multiple guides from the American Psychological Association are the worst time killers ever (it’s true Facebook, no offense please).
Still, are you ready to read the great news? Well, here it is: with this easy to understand guide you will be able to format your APA papers quickly and with ease.

APA formatting of a title page

The first step to making your APA papers just perfect is formatting their title page. These are the main steps to take:

  • Select 1 inch margins on all sides.
  • In a left-aligned header, type the words “running head” and a short title of your paper. Use capital letters for all words in this title. E.g. Running head: EFFECTS OF MUSIC ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE.
  • Use an Arabic figure to show the page number in the upper right corner of the page.
  • Include the full title of your paper, your name and your course in the center of your title page.

APA formatting of the main text

The second step is to use properly formatted in-text (parenthetical) citations throughout your text. The APA format guides recommend that you:

  1. Mention the authors of all ideas that you borrow from external sources. Do not plagiarize!!
  2. Use in-text citations every time you use statistical data and figures, as well as whenever you say something that is not obvious or common knowledge.
  3. Use only the author’s name and the year of publication if you refer to a conclusion made after reading the whole book: Johnson et al (2009) noted that …or (Johnson, 2009) at the end of the sentence. By the way, this “et al” is a substitute for what would be in English “and others”. It is used in in-text citations for sources with more than three authors.
  4. Add the page number where the information can be found if you use a direct quote (word by word as it is in the book or article): “Background music can have a significant impact upon adolescents’ academic performance” (Johnson, 2009, p. 43). The same when you use a paraphrased sentence, taken from a particular page: Recent studies show that music can have strong effects on students’ achievements (Johnson, 2009, p. 43).

APA formatting of a reference list

The next crucial step is making an APA format bibliography. Start it on a new page. Name it “Reference List”. Order all the entries alphabetically and indent the second and following lines of all entries. Use double spacing between the lines of each entry and between the entries. Here is a good example for you:

Reference List

Boggs, J. M., & Petrie, D. W. (2008). The art of watching films (7th ed.). Boston, MA.: McGraw-Hill.
Clarke, G. (2012). Failures of the “moral defence” in the films Shutter Island, Inception and Memento: Narcissism or schizoid personality disorder? The International Journal of         Psychoanalysis, 93(1), 203 – 218.
Nolan, C. & Thomas, E, (Producers) & Nolan, C. (Director). (2010). Inception [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Bros. Pictures.
Now you understand that APA formatting can and should be quick and effective. Feel free to use these tips whenever you need them and read as well other invaluable tips on this blog.

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