APA Format Guidelines for Research Paper Writing

For most students or researchers, completing their study experiments and results collation may bring a feeling of Deja Vu. However, publishing is the ultimate step, involves writing, and proves more daunting. It is important to communicate your scientific findings to the scientific world. Any misstep may mean plenty of corrections or a rework.

One common approach to writing scientific papers is the APA style format. It is useful in avoiding mistakes when writing research work. This article aims to canvass critical aspects of APA style formatting to help you avoid inconveniences that may result from missteps.

What is APA formatting?

An acronym derived from American Physiological Association, APA style research paper format mostly gets deployed in citing sources in social sciences, education, and psychology. It would help if you took advantage of this formatting style in the research and publishing industry.

While the various formatting styles can often confuse, especially on what to use for research journals, it becomes imperative to understand the journal’s requirements before starting.

APA format guidelines

The APA formatting style differs from other writing styles like a creative or term paper. As a student, it becomes crucial to understand the basic guidelines when writing in this style. The guidelines include the following:

The page layout rules

All APA-style papers require double-spacing of the content on a standard-sized paper – commonly with one-inch margins. In addition, you need to indent the opening line of each paragraph at 0.5 inches. Further, every page needs a page numbering. Finally, break your content sections into appropriate APA headings.


Some standard fonts you can use include Times New Roman, Georgia, or Arial, provided they prove accessible.

APA outline

Your APA research paper will have seven key sections: the title page, an abstract, an introduction, methods, a result, a discussion, and a reference section. In addition, the outline can help you know how the APA table of contents will appear. Here is the APA example for the outline.

APA title page

The APA research format stipulates the research title to contain between ten and twelve words. The title needs to reflect the contents of the paper. You start with the title on this page, then your name and that of your college or university. Also, you will have to do a page header and a running head to appear on every published article page.

The running head has to contain characters not exceeding fifty, including spacing and punctuation.


It is a crucial section and needs to have at most a hundred and twenty words. Ensure that it comes as a paragraph and in a block format. You need to ensure a double-spacing of the words, up to two sentences of the topic sentence, besides providing an overview of the results, methods, and discussion.


It is among the most complex sections of an APA research paper. An excellent introduction should critically assess the empirical knowledge. It should define the existing knowledge gap besides expressing your study objective. Remember, you need to keep your audience engaged in reading your write-up.

For an interesting introduction, introduce a logical concept flow that culminates into a research hypothesis. Additionally, while adding references to your introduction, only briefly describe some studies. Instead, summarize by paraphrasing critical findings and avoid quoting from the sources. All the other sections fall under the APA body format.


The methodology section is straightforward for an APA research paper. However, you need to mention the requirements and protocol precisely. Remember, the objective of this section entails a particular description of your experiments and study to avoid issues with results reproducibility.

The section should have the apparatus, materials, and protocols or procedures used. However, keep the procedures concise and accurate. Also, read through your work to ensure the absence of redundancy.


The section describes how you have analyzed your data besides explaining your findings. However, break this part into subsections for every hypothesis in instances where your analyses prove complex. You then elaborate everything using statistical analysis, including figures and tables to present results visually. But remember not to discuss the interpretation of the results in this section.


For a researcher, this section becomes pivotal in interpreting results. It helps to comprehend the study hypothesis better besides placing the results in a broader context. However, this section begins with the specifics and the topical explanations contrary to the introduction section.

You must begin with a concise summary of your findings, then explanations in support of your hypothesis. Also, you can explain why and how it supports existing literature within the subject area.

The discussion also contains the limitations of your research besides any other questions from your study. It is also where you can suggest what further studies can necessitate bridging knowledge gaps within the study area.

Conclusion in APA

This section summarizes what you have discussed in all the sections.

The APA Reference Page

You need to give an alphabetical list of references in this section. Avoid keeping extra spaces, and ensure you double-space all everything.

Mistakes to avoid in APA academic writing

  • Limit the use of first-person when writing in APA format
  • Avoid anecdotes and personal statements
  • Always write in the past tense, though certain exceptions exist
  • Avoid using contractions
  • Not citing your sources
  • Using biased language
  • Quoting directly from sources

Final thoughts

This guideline will come in handy if you want to know how to cite a research paper APA. All you need to do entails lots of practice, especially after comprehending all the elements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *