If you are attending a psychology class then you will probably face a situation when your instructor asks you to write a paper in APA style. What is APA paper? It is a paper that needs to be formatted according to APA style, which is the official format of the American Psychological Association.

If you have never dealt with APA papers before then all the rules and guidelines can seem overwhelming to you the first time.

If you’re used to writing papers in other formats like Chicago or MLA, it might take you some time to be comfortable with APA.

Below you will find general guidelines on how to prepare an APA paper.

General Rules on How to Write an APA paper

Standard rules of an APA format include the usage of a paper of a standard size (8.5 inches by 11 inches) and a 1-inch margin on all sides.

The paper should be typed in a 12-point font of Times New Roman and double-spaced. You don’t necessarily need to use Times New Roman; you can choose similar fonts if you like.

There should be a page header on every page of a paper in the upper left corner. Number of a page should also be included in the upper right corner.

Structure of an APA Paper

The exact structure of the paper is determined by the type of paper you are writing. For example, a case study might have a different structure than the one of a lab report or a critique article. Lab reports should include details of the method and results of the experiment of your study, which is not needed in other kinds of papers.

No matter what type of paper you are preparing, it should include four main sections:

  • A title page.
  • An abstract.
  • A main part.
  • References.

Main Sections of an APA paper

  • Title. The title of a paper should include a running head, title of your project, your name, and school. The page gives important information to your readers, so carefully read about how to prepare a title page.
  • Abstract. Abstract is a short overview of your paper. It goes right after the title page. According to APA rules, abstracts should be no longer than 250 words. However, you might be given different instructions from your professor.
  • Main part. The format of this section can be different depending on the kind of paper you are composing. For example, of you are working on a lab report, then this part should have introduction, description of a method, overview of results, and discussion.
  • Reference. In this section you need to include all references you used in your paper. If you have cited some sources you need to properly format them and include them in the reference. This part starts on a new page with the heading “References”, which should be place in the center in the top of a page. You can get more information on how to make a reference page in the manuals on how to write an APA paper.

Final Tips on APA Papers

When you see that the writing of a paper becomes difficult and confusing break the work in several stages, which you can manage. While researching for information for your topic you can create a plan and a bibliography that can assist you structure a paper and follow all the references you use.

When your paper is finished make sure to reread it and check for all possible imperfections, like

  • Grammar mistakes.
  • Spelling errors.
  • Punctuation.
  • Syntax.

Sequence to Follow When Writing a Paper

The writing process starts with the research of information. Then you need to proceed with the main part of your paper. Divide information into three main parts and gather a section together. The abstract should be written only after you finish working with the main part, which will make it easier for you to organize your ideas in a logical way. Then, put together all the references you have used and create a page of title. After all these steps, spend some time editing your paper and making sure everything is done according to the plan. Also, check if your paper matches the instructions provided by your professor. If you are preparing a specific paper, ask your instructor to provide you with special manuals on how to write an APA paper.

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