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What Is APA Format?

APA (American Psychological Association) format is the standard writing set-up for social science papers.  Having a set structure for papers helps to ensure content consistency and standards in writing.  All of the information on this webpage is based upon the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2010).


Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition


Paper Template and Sample Papers in APA Format:

Here is a template for papers in APA format: APAFormatTemplate.doc


Here is a sample paper in APA format: A Kaleidoscope of Change.pdf



Specific Paper Components:

Title Page

1. Running Head – this is a brief form of the title of the paper, it is to be no longer than 50 characters in length and should be in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. The words “Running head:“ are to appear on the title page itself, all of the rest of the pages of the paper will have the running head (the words in ALL CAPS) but will NOT include the words "Running head:".
2. Page Number – indicated by number only in the upper right corner of each page.  The Title Page counts as page 1 of the paper.
3. Paper Title - the full title of your paper should be centered about 1/3 of the way down the page.
4. Your Name – indicated just beneath the title of your paper.
5. Affiliation – this refers to the school with which you are affiliated, North Central State College – this goes just beneath your name.
6. Course Information - indicate the course number and section information (Please note: This information is specific to NCSC requirements but may not coincide with what other institutions require/prefer.)




1. Running Head – includes only the words that were in ALL CAPS on the title page running head.
2. Page Number – number only in the upper right corner of the page
3. Abstract - An abstract is a single concise paragraph that provides an objective overview of the paper.  An abstract is NOT indented and is to be 150 to 250 words. Abstracts may not be required for all papers, so students should check with their instructors to verify whether this is needed.
4. Keywords - This may not be required for your paper, so it is advised that you check with your instructor.  If you are required to include a keywords listing, here is the proper format.  The word "Keywords" should be in italics and indented beneath the abstract.  Then, list the concepts that are addressed in your paper.




First Page of Paper

1. Running Head – includes only the words that were in ALL CAPS on the title page running head (this should be identical to how it appeared on the Abstract page).
2. Page Number – number only in the upper right corner of the page
3. Paper Title - the full title of your paper – centered (left-right centered)
4. Paper Content – your written paper thoroughly addressing all aspects of the assignment.



Subsequent Pages of Paper

1. Running Head – includes only the words that were in ALL CAPS on the title page running head
2. Page Number – number only in the upper right corner of the page
3. Paper Content – your written paper thoroughly addressing all aspects of the assignment.




1. Running Head – includes only the words that were in ALL CAPS on the title page running head
2. Page Number – number only in the upper right corner of the page
3. References – the word “References” (without quotation marks) centered (left-right centered) at the top of the page.
4. Reference List - List references in alphabetical order by the primary author’s last name. (THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU CHANGE THE ORDER THAT THE AUTHORS ARE INDICATED ON THE SOURCE! This DOES mean that when you have more than one source, the references should be in alphabetical order according to the last name of the primary author exactly as listed on the source you used). The first line of the reference is flush to the left side of the page and the subsequent lines are indented and the spacing is 1.5 between lines.


Sample Reference List Items

Journal Article:

Silverstein, L. B. (2006). Integrating feminism and multiculturalism: Scientific fact or science fiction?

     Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 37(1), 21–28.


Journal Article with DOI:

Frame, M., & Williams, C. (2005). Issues and insights: A model of ethical decision making from a

     multicultural perspective. Counseling And Values, 49(3), 165-179.




Crawford, M. & Unger, R. (2004). Women and Gender: A feminist psychology. New York, New York: McGraw



Online Article (refer to research tips noted below related to utilizing websites as sources):

American Association of University Women Educational Foundation. (1998). Gender gaps:

            Where schools still fail our children executive summary. Retrieved from

            This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



In Text Citations

If someone else’s writings and information have influenced what you are writing, you MUST give credit to that source.  This is true if you are paraphrasing or directly quoting another source.   APA format utilizes an author-date (date refers to the year of publication) format for citation.   When in doubt, cite, cite, CITE!


Direct Quotation

If directly quoting from a source, you need to include the author’s name, publication year, and page number.

Zimbardo, Johnson and McCann (2013), assert that "psychology covers more territory than most people realize" (p. 4).


"Psychology covers more territory than most people realize" (Zimbardo, Johnson, & McCann, 2013, p. 4).



As a general rule, it is better to paraphrase than to directly quote a source. Often times this allows your paper to flow better and also indicates that you are putting thought into what the information you have read actually means. If you have the corresponding page number, it is encouraged (but not required) that this be included in your in text citation (Publication Manual, 2010, p. 171, section 6.04).

If you are including the author’s name in the sentence then this is how you should cite the author:

According to Zimbardo, Johnson, and McCann (2013), psychology contains more aspects than most people would think (p. 4).

If you are NOT including the author’s name in the sentence, then your in text citation should look as follows:

Psychology is more vast than many people realize (Zimbardo, Johnson, & McCann, 2013, p. 4).

Paraphrasing without giving credit to the information source is a form of plagiarism.


Secondary Source Citations (aka Indirect Source Citations)

A secondary source is when you are using a source that provides a citation of another source (textbooks are excellent examples of secondary sources). In these instances, you need to give credit to BOTH sources in the body of your paper.  For example:

There have been cultural variations observed in some features associated with schizophrenia (Meyers, 2011, as cited in Nevid, Rathus, & Greene, 2014, p. 9).

The ONLY source that appears on the reference list is the source that you personally used.  Thus, for the aforementioned secondary citation, the Nevid, Rathus, & Greene source would appear on the reference page, and the Meyers source would NOT appear on the reference page. 



Additional In-Text Citation Notes:

  • If there is not a publication date indicated on the source, the citation would have the letters n.d. where the year would ordinarily appear (n.d. = no date).  Thus, it would appear as (Slattery, n.d.).
  • For sources with 3-5 authors, the first time the source is cited all of the author’s names need to be provided (Slattery, Lewis, & McCool, 2013).  Subsequent citations should be noted in the following manner (Slattery et al., 2013).
  • For sources with 6 or more authors, indicate the primary (first) author’s name followed by “et al.” Thus, it would look as follows for all citations throughout the paper (Slattery et al., 2013).


Here is a link to a table providing additional information on in-text citations:


YouTube Videos:

How to set up Microsoft Word to put your paper in APA Format:




Useful Websites/Additional Resources:

Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab)

Tutorial on APA Format

Frequently Asked Questions About APA Style



Microsoft Word:

Click the link below to go to a webpage with access to Microsoft Office Web Apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.



Conducting Research Remotely:

NCSC students: If you need to obtain articles/resources through the library databases when you are off-campus, the following document provides information on how to do so:

Download PDF Academic Search Complete Access


Need to obtain peer reviewed journal articles for an assignment?  You can restrict your search for these types of articles by accessing Academic Search Complete (refer to steps in above document) and then narrowing down the references to only include peer reviewed journal articles. In order to do this you open Academic Search Complete and then click where it says "Search Options."  Under "Limit Your Results" in the right column click the box next to "Academic Journals/Peer Reviewed."


General Research Tips:

  • DO NOT use Wikipedia as a source. 
  • It is generally better to utilize .gov, .edu, and/or .org websites.  





Publication manual of the american psychological association. (2010). Washington DC: American

     Psychological Association.






This site is maintained by Michelle Slattery.  If you have any suggestions or comments, please email Michelle directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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