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APA Style, 7th edition

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Chapter 11: Presenting Your Research

Writing a Research Report in American Psychological Association (APA) Style

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the major sections of an APA-style research report and the basic contents of each section.
  • Plan and write an effective APA-style research report.

In this section, we look at how to write an APA-style empirical research report , an article that presents the results of one or more new studies. Recall that the standard sections of an empirical research report provide a kind of outline. Here we consider each of these sections in detail, including what information it contains, how that information is formatted and organized, and tips for writing each section. At the end of this section is a sample APA-style research report that illustrates many of these principles.

Sections of a Research Report

Title page and abstract.

An APA-style research report begins with a  title page . The title is centred in the upper half of the page, with each important word capitalized. The title should clearly and concisely (in about 12 words or fewer) communicate the primary variables and research questions. This sometimes requires a main title followed by a subtitle that elaborates on the main title, in which case the main title and subtitle are separated by a colon. Here are some titles from recent issues of professional journals published by the American Psychological Association.

  • Sex Differences in Coping Styles and Implications for Depressed Mood
  • Effects of Aging and Divided Attention on Memory for Items and Their Contexts
  • Computer-Assisted Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Child Anxiety: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial
  • Virtual Driving and Risk Taking: Do Racing Games Increase Risk-Taking Cognitions, Affect, and Behaviour?

Below the title are the authors’ names and, on the next line, their institutional affiliation—the university or other institution where the authors worked when they conducted the research. As we have already seen, the authors are listed in an order that reflects their contribution to the research. When multiple authors have made equal contributions to the research, they often list their names alphabetically or in a randomly determined order.

In some areas of psychology, the titles of many empirical research reports are informal in a way that is perhaps best described as “cute.” They usually take the form of a play on words or a well-known expression that relates to the topic under study. Here are some examples from recent issues of the Journal Psychological Science .

  • “Smells Like Clean Spirit: Nonconscious Effects of Scent on Cognition and Behavior”
  • “Time Crawls: The Temporal Resolution of Infants’ Visual Attention”
  • “Scent of a Woman: Men’s Testosterone Responses to Olfactory Ovulation Cues”
  • “Apocalypse Soon?: Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming by Contradicting Just-World Beliefs”
  • “Serial vs. Parallel Processing: Sometimes They Look Like Tweedledum and Tweedledee but They Can (and Should) Be Distinguished”
  • “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words: The Social Effects of Expressive Writing”

Individual researchers differ quite a bit in their preference for such titles. Some use them regularly, while others never use them. What might be some of the pros and cons of using cute article titles?

For articles that are being submitted for publication, the title page also includes an author note that lists the authors’ full institutional affiliations, any acknowledgments the authors wish to make to agencies that funded the research or to colleagues who commented on it, and contact information for the authors. For student papers that are not being submitted for publication—including theses—author notes are generally not necessary.

The  abstract  is a summary of the study. It is the second page of the manuscript and is headed with the word  Abstract . The first line is not indented. The abstract presents the research question, a summary of the method, the basic results, and the most important conclusions. Because the abstract is usually limited to about 200 words, it can be a challenge to write a good one.

Introduction

The  introduction  begins on the third page of the manuscript. The heading at the top of this page is the full title of the manuscript, with each important word capitalized as on the title page. The introduction includes three distinct subsections, although these are typically not identified by separate headings. The opening introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting, the literature review discusses relevant previous research, and the closing restates the research question and comments on the method used to answer it.

The Opening

The  opening , which is usually a paragraph or two in length, introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting. To capture the reader’s attention, researcher Daryl Bem recommends starting with general observations about the topic under study, expressed in ordinary language (not technical jargon)—observations that are about people and their behaviour (not about researchers or their research; Bem, 2003 [1] ). Concrete examples are often very useful here. According to Bem, this would be a poor way to begin a research report:

Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance received a great deal of attention during the latter part of the 20th century (p. 191)

The following would be much better:

The individual who holds two beliefs that are inconsistent with one another may feel uncomfortable. For example, the person who knows that he or she enjoys smoking but believes it to be unhealthy may experience discomfort arising from the inconsistency or disharmony between these two thoughts or cognitions. This feeling of discomfort was called cognitive dissonance by social psychologist Leon Festinger (1957), who suggested that individuals will be motivated to remove this dissonance in whatever way they can (p. 191).

After capturing the reader’s attention, the opening should go on to introduce the research question and explain why it is interesting. Will the answer fill a gap in the literature? Will it provide a test of an important theory? Does it have practical implications? Giving readers a clear sense of what the research is about and why they should care about it will motivate them to continue reading the literature review—and will help them make sense of it.

Breaking the Rules

Researcher Larry Jacoby reported several studies showing that a word that people see or hear repeatedly can seem more familiar even when they do not recall the repetitions—and that this tendency is especially pronounced among older adults. He opened his article with the following humourous anecdote:

A friend whose mother is suffering symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) tells the story of taking her mother to visit a nursing home, preliminary to her mother’s moving there. During an orientation meeting at the nursing home, the rules and regulations were explained, one of which regarded the dining room. The dining room was described as similar to a fine restaurant except that tipping was not required. The absence of tipping was a central theme in the orientation lecture, mentioned frequently to emphasize the quality of care along with the advantages of having paid in advance. At the end of the meeting, the friend’s mother was asked whether she had any questions. She replied that she only had one question: “Should I tip?” (Jacoby, 1999, p. 3)

Although both humour and personal anecdotes are generally discouraged in APA-style writing, this example is a highly effective way to start because it both engages the reader and provides an excellent real-world example of the topic under study.

The Literature Review

Immediately after the opening comes the  literature review , which describes relevant previous research on the topic and can be anywhere from several paragraphs to several pages in length. However, the literature review is not simply a list of past studies. Instead, it constitutes a kind of argument for why the research question is worth addressing. By the end of the literature review, readers should be convinced that the research question makes sense and that the present study is a logical next step in the ongoing research process.

Like any effective argument, the literature review must have some kind of structure. For example, it might begin by describing a phenomenon in a general way along with several studies that demonstrate it, then describing two or more competing theories of the phenomenon, and finally presenting a hypothesis to test one or more of the theories. Or it might describe one phenomenon, then describe another phenomenon that seems inconsistent with the first one, then propose a theory that resolves the inconsistency, and finally present a hypothesis to test that theory. In applied research, it might describe a phenomenon or theory, then describe how that phenomenon or theory applies to some important real-world situation, and finally suggest a way to test whether it does, in fact, apply to that situation.

Looking at the literature review in this way emphasizes a few things. First, it is extremely important to start with an outline of the main points that you want to make, organized in the order that you want to make them. The basic structure of your argument, then, should be apparent from the outline itself. Second, it is important to emphasize the structure of your argument in your writing. One way to do this is to begin the literature review by summarizing your argument even before you begin to make it. “In this article, I will describe two apparently contradictory phenomena, present a new theory that has the potential to resolve the apparent contradiction, and finally present a novel hypothesis to test the theory.” Another way is to open each paragraph with a sentence that summarizes the main point of the paragraph and links it to the preceding points. These opening sentences provide the “transitions” that many beginning researchers have difficulty with. Instead of beginning a paragraph by launching into a description of a previous study, such as “Williams (2004) found that…,” it is better to start by indicating something about why you are describing this particular study. Here are some simple examples:

Another example of this phenomenon comes from the work of Williams (2004).

Williams (2004) offers one explanation of this phenomenon.

An alternative perspective has been provided by Williams (2004).

We used a method based on the one used by Williams (2004).

Finally, remember that your goal is to construct an argument for why your research question is interesting and worth addressing—not necessarily why your favourite answer to it is correct. In other words, your literature review must be balanced. If you want to emphasize the generality of a phenomenon, then of course you should discuss various studies that have demonstrated it. However, if there are other studies that have failed to demonstrate it, you should discuss them too. Or if you are proposing a new theory, then of course you should discuss findings that are consistent with that theory. However, if there are other findings that are inconsistent with it, again, you should discuss them too. It is acceptable to argue that the  balance  of the research supports the existence of a phenomenon or is consistent with a theory (and that is usually the best that researchers in psychology can hope for), but it is not acceptable to  ignore contradictory evidence. Besides, a large part of what makes a research question interesting is uncertainty about its answer.

The Closing

The  closing  of the introduction—typically the final paragraph or two—usually includes two important elements. The first is a clear statement of the main research question or hypothesis. This statement tends to be more formal and precise than in the opening and is often expressed in terms of operational definitions of the key variables. The second is a brief overview of the method and some comment on its appropriateness. Here, for example, is how Darley and Latané (1968) [2] concluded the introduction to their classic article on the bystander effect:

These considerations lead to the hypothesis that the more bystanders to an emergency, the less likely, or the more slowly, any one bystander will intervene to provide aid. To test this proposition it would be necessary to create a situation in which a realistic “emergency” could plausibly occur. Each subject should also be blocked from communicating with others to prevent his getting information about their behaviour during the emergency. Finally, the experimental situation should allow for the assessment of the speed and frequency of the subjects’ reaction to the emergency. The experiment reported below attempted to fulfill these conditions. (p. 378)

Thus the introduction leads smoothly into the next major section of the article—the method section.

The  method section  is where you describe how you conducted your study. An important principle for writing a method section is that it should be clear and detailed enough that other researchers could replicate the study by following your “recipe.” This means that it must describe all the important elements of the study—basic demographic characteristics of the participants, how they were recruited, whether they were randomly assigned, how the variables were manipulated or measured, how counterbalancing was accomplished, and so on. At the same time, it should avoid irrelevant details such as the fact that the study was conducted in Classroom 37B of the Industrial Technology Building or that the questionnaire was double-sided and completed using pencils.

The method section begins immediately after the introduction ends with the heading “Method” (not “Methods”) centred on the page. Immediately after this is the subheading “Participants,” left justified and in italics. The participants subsection indicates how many participants there were, the number of women and men, some indication of their age, other demographics that may be relevant to the study, and how they were recruited, including any incentives given for participation.

Three ways of organizing an APA-style method. Long description available.

After the participants section, the structure can vary a bit. Figure 11.1 shows three common approaches. In the first, the participants section is followed by a design and procedure subsection, which describes the rest of the method. This works well for methods that are relatively simple and can be described adequately in a few paragraphs. In the second approach, the participants section is followed by separate design and procedure subsections. This works well when both the design and the procedure are relatively complicated and each requires multiple paragraphs.

What is the difference between design and procedure? The design of a study is its overall structure. What were the independent and dependent variables? Was the independent variable manipulated, and if so, was it manipulated between or within subjects? How were the variables operationally defined? The procedure is how the study was carried out. It often works well to describe the procedure in terms of what the participants did rather than what the researchers did. For example, the participants gave their informed consent, read a set of instructions, completed a block of four practice trials, completed a block of 20 test trials, completed two questionnaires, and were debriefed and excused.

In the third basic way to organize a method section, the participants subsection is followed by a materials subsection before the design and procedure subsections. This works well when there are complicated materials to describe. This might mean multiple questionnaires, written vignettes that participants read and respond to, perceptual stimuli, and so on. The heading of this subsection can be modified to reflect its content. Instead of “Materials,” it can be “Questionnaires,” “Stimuli,” and so on.

The  results section  is where you present the main results of the study, including the results of the statistical analyses. Although it does not include the raw data—individual participants’ responses or scores—researchers should save their raw data and make them available to other researchers who request them. Several journals now encourage the open sharing of raw data online.

Although there are no standard subsections, it is still important for the results section to be logically organized. Typically it begins with certain preliminary issues. One is whether any participants or responses were excluded from the analyses and why. The rationale for excluding data should be described clearly so that other researchers can decide whether it is appropriate. A second preliminary issue is how multiple responses were combined to produce the primary variables in the analyses. For example, if participants rated the attractiveness of 20 stimulus people, you might have to explain that you began by computing the mean attractiveness rating for each participant. Or if they recalled as many items as they could from study list of 20 words, did you count the number correctly recalled, compute the percentage correctly recalled, or perhaps compute the number correct minus the number incorrect? A third preliminary issue is the reliability of the measures. This is where you would present test-retest correlations, Cronbach’s α, or other statistics to show that the measures are consistent across time and across items. A final preliminary issue is whether the manipulation was successful. This is where you would report the results of any manipulation checks.

The results section should then tackle the primary research questions, one at a time. Again, there should be a clear organization. One approach would be to answer the most general questions and then proceed to answer more specific ones. Another would be to answer the main question first and then to answer secondary ones. Regardless, Bem (2003) [3] suggests the following basic structure for discussing each new result:

  • Remind the reader of the research question.
  • Give the answer to the research question in words.
  • Present the relevant statistics.
  • Qualify the answer if necessary.
  • Summarize the result.

Notice that only Step 3 necessarily involves numbers. The rest of the steps involve presenting the research question and the answer to it in words. In fact, the basic results should be clear even to a reader who skips over the numbers.

The  discussion  is the last major section of the research report. Discussions usually consist of some combination of the following elements:

  • Summary of the research
  • Theoretical implications
  • Practical implications
  • Limitations
  • Suggestions for future research

The discussion typically begins with a summary of the study that provides a clear answer to the research question. In a short report with a single study, this might require no more than a sentence. In a longer report with multiple studies, it might require a paragraph or even two. The summary is often followed by a discussion of the theoretical implications of the research. Do the results provide support for any existing theories? If not, how  can  they be explained? Although you do not have to provide a definitive explanation or detailed theory for your results, you at least need to outline one or more possible explanations. In applied research—and often in basic research—there is also some discussion of the practical implications of the research. How can the results be used, and by whom, to accomplish some real-world goal?

The theoretical and practical implications are often followed by a discussion of the study’s limitations. Perhaps there are problems with its internal or external validity. Perhaps the manipulation was not very effective or the measures not very reliable. Perhaps there is some evidence that participants did not fully understand their task or that they were suspicious of the intent of the researchers. Now is the time to discuss these issues and how they might have affected the results. But do not overdo it. All studies have limitations, and most readers will understand that a different sample or different measures might have produced different results. Unless there is good reason to think they  would have, however, there is no reason to mention these routine issues. Instead, pick two or three limitations that seem like they could have influenced the results, explain how they could have influenced the results, and suggest ways to deal with them.

Most discussions end with some suggestions for future research. If the study did not satisfactorily answer the original research question, what will it take to do so? What  new  research questions has the study raised? This part of the discussion, however, is not just a list of new questions. It is a discussion of two or three of the most important unresolved issues. This means identifying and clarifying each question, suggesting some alternative answers, and even suggesting ways they could be studied.

Finally, some researchers are quite good at ending their articles with a sweeping or thought-provoking conclusion. Darley and Latané (1968) [4] , for example, ended their article on the bystander effect by discussing the idea that whether people help others may depend more on the situation than on their personalities. Their final sentence is, “If people understand the situational forces that can make them hesitate to intervene, they may better overcome them” (p. 383). However, this kind of ending can be difficult to pull off. It can sound overreaching or just banal and end up detracting from the overall impact of the article. It is often better simply to end when you have made your final point (although you should avoid ending on a limitation).

The references section begins on a new page with the heading “References” centred at the top of the page. All references cited in the text are then listed in the format presented earlier. They are listed alphabetically by the last name of the first author. If two sources have the same first author, they are listed alphabetically by the last name of the second author. If all the authors are the same, then they are listed chronologically by the year of publication. Everything in the reference list is double-spaced both within and between references.

Appendices, Tables, and Figures

Appendices, tables, and figures come after the references. An  appendix  is appropriate for supplemental material that would interrupt the flow of the research report if it were presented within any of the major sections. An appendix could be used to present lists of stimulus words, questionnaire items, detailed descriptions of special equipment or unusual statistical analyses, or references to the studies that are included in a meta-analysis. Each appendix begins on a new page. If there is only one, the heading is “Appendix,” centred at the top of the page. If there is more than one, the headings are “Appendix A,” “Appendix B,” and so on, and they appear in the order they were first mentioned in the text of the report.

After any appendices come tables and then figures. Tables and figures are both used to present results. Figures can also be used to illustrate theories (e.g., in the form of a flowchart), display stimuli, outline procedures, and present many other kinds of information. Each table and figure appears on its own page. Tables are numbered in the order that they are first mentioned in the text (“Table 1,” “Table 2,” and so on). Figures are numbered the same way (“Figure 1,” “Figure 2,” and so on). A brief explanatory title, with the important words capitalized, appears above each table. Each figure is given a brief explanatory caption, where (aside from proper nouns or names) only the first word of each sentence is capitalized. More details on preparing APA-style tables and figures are presented later in the book.

Sample APA-Style Research Report

Figures 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, and 11.5 show some sample pages from an APA-style empirical research report originally written by undergraduate student Tomoe Suyama at California State University, Fresno. The main purpose of these figures is to illustrate the basic organization and formatting of an APA-style empirical research report, although many high-level and low-level style conventions can be seen here too.

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Key Takeaways

  • An APA-style empirical research report consists of several standard sections. The main ones are the abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references.
  • The introduction consists of an opening that presents the research question, a literature review that describes previous research on the topic, and a closing that restates the research question and comments on the method. The literature review constitutes an argument for why the current study is worth doing.
  • The method section describes the method in enough detail that another researcher could replicate the study. At a minimum, it consists of a participants subsection and a design and procedure subsection.
  • The results section describes the results in an organized fashion. Each primary result is presented in terms of statistical results but also explained in words.
  • The discussion typically summarizes the study, discusses theoretical and practical implications and limitations of the study, and offers suggestions for further research.
  • Practice: Look through an issue of a general interest professional journal (e.g.,  Psychological Science ). Read the opening of the first five articles and rate the effectiveness of each one from 1 ( very ineffective ) to 5 ( very effective ). Write a sentence or two explaining each rating.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and identify where the opening, literature review, and closing of the introduction begin and end.
  • Practice: Find a recent article in a professional journal and highlight in a different colour each of the following elements in the discussion: summary, theoretical implications, practical implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research.

Long Descriptions

Figure 11.1 long description: Table showing three ways of organizing an APA-style method section.

In the simple method, there are two subheadings: “Participants” (which might begin “The participants were…”) and “Design and procedure” (which might begin “There were three conditions…”).

In the typical method, there are three subheadings: “Participants” (“The participants were…”), “Design” (“There were three conditions…”), and “Procedure” (“Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…”).

In the complex method, there are four subheadings: “Participants” (“The participants were…”), “Materials” (“The stimuli were…”), “Design” (“There were three conditions…”), and “Procedure” (“Participants viewed each stimulus on the computer screen…”). [Return to Figure 11.1]

  • Bem, D. J. (2003). Writing the empirical journal article. In J. M. Darley, M. P. Zanna, & H. R. Roediger III (Eds.),  The compleat academic: A practical guide for the beginning social scientist  (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ↵
  • Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4 , 377–383. ↵

A type of research article which describes one or more new empirical studies conducted by the authors.

The page at the beginning of an APA-style research report containing the title of the article, the authors’ names, and their institutional affiliation.

A summary of a research study.

The third page of a manuscript containing the research question, the literature review, and comments about how to answer the research question.

An introduction to the research question and explanation for why this question is interesting.

A description of relevant previous research on the topic being discusses and an argument for why the research is worth addressing.

The end of the introduction, where the research question is reiterated and the method is commented upon.

The section of a research report where the method used to conduct the study is described.

The main results of the study, including the results from statistical analyses, are presented in a research article.

Section of a research report that summarizes the study's results and interprets them by referring back to the study's theoretical background.

Part of a research report which contains supplemental material.

Research Methods in Psychology - 2nd Canadian Edition by Paul C. Price, Rajiv Jhangiani, & I-Chant A. Chiang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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APA Citation Style

Citation examples.

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Parenthetical citations:  (Grady et al., 2019; Jerrentrup et al., 2018)

Narrative citations:  Grady et al. (2019) and Jerrentrup et al. (2018)

  • If a journal article has a DOI, include the DOI in the reference.
  • If the journal article does not have a DOI and is from an academic research database, end the reference after the page range (for an explanation of why, see the  database information  page). The reference in this case is the same as for a print journal article.
  • Do not include database information in the reference unless the journal article comes from a database that publishes original, proprietary content, such as UpToDate (see an example on the  database information  page).
  • If the journal article does not have a DOI but does have a URL that will resolve for readers (e.g., it is from an online journal that is not part of a database), include the URL of the article at the end of the reference.
  • If the journal article has an article number instead of a page range, include the article number instead of the page range (as shown in the Jerrentrup et al. example).

Parenthetical citations:  (Rabinowitz, 2019; Sapolsky, 2017)

Narrative citations:  Rabinowitz (2019) and Sapolsky (2017)

  • If the book includes a DOI, include the DOI in the reference after the publisher name.
  • Do not include the publisher location.
  • If the book does not have a DOI and comes from an academic research database, end the book reference after the publisher name. Do not include  database information  in the reference. The reference in this case is the same as for a print book.

Parenthetical citations:  (Schaefer & Shapiro, 2019; Schulman, 2019)

Narrative citations:  Schaefer and Shapiro (2019) and Schulman (2019)

  • If a magazine article has a DOI, include the DOI in the reference.
  • If the magazine article does not have a DOI and is from an academic research database, end the reference after the page range. Do not include  database information  in the reference. The reference in this case is the same as for a print magazine article.
  • If the magazine article does not have a DOI but does have a URL that will resolve for readers (e.g., it is from an online magazine that is not part of a database), include the URL of the article at the end of the reference.
  • If the magazine article does not have volume, issue, and/or page numbers (e.g., because it is from an online magazine), omit the missing elements from the reference (as in the Schulman example).

Parenthetical citation:  (Carey, 2019)

Narrative citation:  Carey (2019)

  • If the newspaper article is from an academic research database, end the reference after the page range. Do not include  database information  in the reference. The reference in this case is the same as for a print newspaper article.
  • If the newspaper article has a URL that will resolve for readers (e.g., it is from an online newspaper), include the URL of the article at the end of the reference.
  • If the newspaper article does not have volume, issue, and/or page numbers (e.g., because it is from an online newspaper), omit the missing elements from the reference, as shown in the example.
  • If the article is from a news website (e.g., CNN, HuffPost)—one that does not have an associated daily or weekly newspaper—use the format for a  webpage on a website  instead.

Parenthetical citation:  (Aron et al., 2019)

Narrative citation:  Aron et al. (2019)

  • If the edited book chapter includes a DOI, include the chapter DOI in the reference after the publisher name.
  • If the edited book chapter does not have a DOI and comes from an academic research database, end the edited book chapter reference after the publisher name. Do not include  database information  in the reference. The reference in this case is the same as for a print edited book chapter.
  • Do not create references for chapters of authored books. Instead, write a reference for the whole book and cite the chapter in the text if desired (e.g., Kumar, 2017, Chapter 2).

Parenthetical citation:  (Merriam-Webster, n.d.)

Narrative citation:  Merriam-Webster (n.d.)

  • Because entries in  Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary  are updated over time and are not archived, include a  retrieval date  in the reference.
  • Merriam-Webster is both the author and the publisher, so the name appears in the author element only to avoid repetition.
  • To quote a dictionary definition, view the pages on quotations and  how to quote works without page numbers  for guidance. Additionally, here is an example:  Culture  refers to the “customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group” (Merriam-Webster, n.d., Definition 1a).

Parenthetical citation:  (National Cancer Institute, 2019)

Narrative citation:  National Cancer Institute (2019)

The specific agency responsible for the report appears as the author. The names of parent agencies not present in the  group author name  appear in the source element as the publisher. This creates concise in-text citations and complete reference list entries.

Parenthetical citation:  (Harvard University, 2019)

Narrative citation:  Harvard University (2019)

  • Use the name of the account that uploaded the video as the author.
  • If the account did not actually create the work, explain this in the text if it is important for readers to know. However, if that would mean citing a source that appears unauthoritative, you might also look for the author’s YouTube channel, official website, or other social media to see whether the same video is available elsewhere.

Parenthetical citations:  (APA Databases, 2019; Gates, 2019)

Narrative citations:  APA Databases (2019) and Gates (2019)

  • Present the name of the individual or group author the same as you would for any other reference. Then provide the Twitter handle (beginning with the @ sign) in square brackets, followed by a period.
  • Provide the first 20 words of the tweet as the title. Count a URL, a hashtag, or an emoji as one word each, and include them in the reference if they fall within the first 20 words.
  • If the tweet includes an image, a video, a poll, or a thumbnail image with a link, indicate that in brackets after the title: [Image attached], [Video attached], [Thumbnail with link attached].
  • The same format used for Twitter is also used for Instagram.  

Parenthetical citation:  (News From Science, 2019)

Narrative citation:  News From Science (2019)

  • Provide the first 20 words of the Facebook post as the title. Count a URL or other link, a hashtag, or an emoji as one word each, and include them in the reference if they fall within the first 20 words. 
  • If a status update includes images, videos, thumbnail links to outside sources, or content from another Facebook post (such as when sharing a link), indicate that in square brackets.

Parenthetical citations:  (Fagan, 2019; National Institute of Mental Health, 2018; Woodyatt, 2019; World Health Organization, 2018)

Narrative citations:  Fagan (2019), National Institute of Mental Health (2018), Woodyatt (2019), and World Health Organization (2018)

  • Provide as specific a  date  as is available on the webpage. This might be a year only; a year and month; or a year, month, and day.
  • Italicize the title of a webpage.
  • When the author of the webpage and the publisher of the website are the same, omit the publisher name to avoid repetition (as in the World Health Organization example).
  • When contents of a page are meant to be updated over time but are not archived, include a  retrieval date  in the reference (as in the Fagan example).
  • Use the webpage on a website format for articles from news websites such as CNN and HuffPost (these sites do not have associated daily or weekly newspapers). Use the  newspaper article category  for articles from newspaper websites such as  The New York Times  or  The Washington Post .
  • Create a reference to an open educational resources (OER) page only when the materials are available for download directly (i.e., the materials are on the page and/or can be downloaded as PDFs or other files). If you are directed to another website, create a reference to the specific webpage on that website where the materials can be retrieved. Use this format for material in any OER repository, such as OER Commons, OASIS, or MERLOT.
  • Do not create a reference or in-text citation for a whole website. To mention a website in general, and not any particular information on that site, provide the name of the website in the text and include the URL in parentheses. For example, you might mention that you used a website to create a survey.

The following supplemental example references are mention in the  Publication Manual:

  • retracted journal or magazine article
  • edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
  • edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD)
  • religious work
  • annotated religious work

Archival document and collections are not presented in the  APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition . This content is available only on the APA Style website .  This guidance has been expanded from the 6th edition.

Archival sources include letters, unpublished manuscripts, limited-circulation brochures and pamphlets, in-house institutional and corporate documents, clippings, and other documents, as well as such nontextual materials as photographs and apparatus, that are in the personal possession of an author, form part of an institutional collection, or are stored in an archive such as the Archives of the History of American Psychology at the University of Akron or the APA Archives. For any documents like these that are available on the open web or via a database (subscription or nonsubscription), follow the reference templates shown in Chapter 10 of the Publication Manual.

The general format for the reference for an archival work includes the author, date, title, and source. The reference examples shown on this page may be modified for collections requiring more or less specific information to locate materials, for different types of collections, or for additional descriptive information (e.g., a translation of a letter). Authors may choose to list correspondence from their own personal collections, but correspondence from other private collections should be listed only with the permission of the collector.

Keep in mind the following principles when creating references to archival documents and collections:

  • As with any reference, the purpose is to direct readers to the source, despite the fact that only a single copy of the document may be available and readers may have some difficulty actually seeing a copy.
  • Include as much information as is needed to help locate the item with reasonable ease within the repository. For items from collections with detailed finding aids, the name of the collection may be sufficient; for items from collections without finding aids, more information (e.g., call number, box number, file name or number) may be necessary to help locate the item.
  • If several letters are cited from the same collection, list the collection as a reference and provide specific identifying information (author, recipient, and date) for each letter in the in-text citations (see Example 3).
  • Use square brackets to indicate information that does not appear on the document.
  • Use “ca.” (circa) to indicate an estimated date (see Example 5).
  • Use italics for titles of archival documents and collections; if the work does not have a title, provide a description in square brackets without italics.
  • Separate elements of the source (e.g., the name of a repository, library, university or archive, and the location of the university or archive) with commas. End the source with a period.
  • If a publication of limited circulation is available in libraries, the reference may be formatted as usual for published material, without the archival source.
  • Note that private letters (vs. those in an archive or repository) are considered personal communications and cited in the text only.

1. Letter from a repository

Frank, L. K. (1935, February 4). [Letter to Robert M. Ogden]. Rockefeller Archive Center (GEB Series 1.3, Box 371, Folder 3877), Tarrytown, NY, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Frank, 1935)
  • Narrative citation: Frank (1935)
  • Because the letter does not have a title, provide a description in square brackets.

2. Letter from a private collection

Zacharius, G. P. (1953, August 15). [Letter to William Rickel (W. Rickel, Trans.)]. Copy in possession of Hendrika Vande Kemp.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Zacharius, 1953)
  • Narrative citation: Zacharius (1953)
  • In this example, Hendrika Vande Kemp is either the author of the paper or the author of the paper has received permission from Hendrika Vande Kemp to cite a letter in Vande Kemp’s private collection in this way. Otherwise, cite a private letter as a  personal communication .

3. Collection of letters from an archive

Allport, G. W. (1930–1967). Correspondence. Gordon W. Allport Papers (HUG 4118.10), Harvard University Archives, Cambridge, MA, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Allport, 1930–1967)
  • Narrative citation: Allport (1930–1967)

To cite specific letters in the text, provide the author and range of years as shown in the reference list entry, plus details about who wrote the specific letter to whom and when the specific letter was written.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Allport, 1930–1967, G. Boring to Allport, December 26, 1937)
  • Narrative citation: Allport (1930–1967, Allport to G. Boring, March 1, 1939)
  • Use the parenthetical citation format to cite a letter that E. G. Boring wrote to Allport because Allport is the author in the reference. Use either the parenthetical or narrative citation format to cite letters that Allport wrote.

4. Unpublished papers, lectures from an archive or personal collection

Berliner, A. (1959). Notes for a lecture on reminiscences of Wundt and Leipzig. Anna Berliner Memoirs (Box M50), Archives of the History of American Psychology, University of Akron, Akron, OH, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Berliner, 1959)
  • Narrative citation: Berliner (1959)

5. Archival/historical source for which the author and/or date is known or is reasonably certain but not stated on the document

Allport, A. (presumed). (ca. 1937). Marion Taylor today—by the biographer [Unpublished manuscript]. Marion Taylor Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Allport, ca. 1937)
  • Narrative citation: Allport (ca. 1937)
  • Because the author is reasonably certain but not stated on the document, place the word “presumed” in parentheses after the name, followed by a period.
  • Because the date is reasonably certain but not stated on the document, the abbreviation “ca.” (which stands for “circa”) appears before the year in parentheses.

6. Archival source with group author

Subcommittee on Mental Hygiene Personnel in School Programs. (1949, November 5–6). Meeting of Subcommittee on Mental Hygiene Personnel in School Programs. David Shakow Papers (M1360), Archives of the History of American Psychology, University of Akron, Akron, OH, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Subcommittee on Mental Hygiene Personnel in School Programs, 1949)
  • Narrative citation: Subcommittee on Mental Hygiene Personnel in School Programs (1949)

7. Interview recorded and available in an archive

Smith, M. B. (1989, August 12). Interview by C. A. Kiesler [Tape recording]. President’s Oral History Project, American Psychological Association, APA Archives, Washington, DC, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Smith, 1989)
  • Narrative citation: Smith (1989)
  • For interviews and oral histories recorded in an archive, list the interviewee as the author. Include the interviewer’s name in the description.

8. Transcription of a recorded interview, no recording available

Sparkman, C. F. (1973). An oral history with Dr. Colley F. Sparkman/Interviewer: Orley B. Caudill. Mississippi Oral History Program (Vol. 289), University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Sparkman, 1973)
  • Narrative citation: Sparkman (1973)

9. Newspaper article clipping, historical, in personal collection

Psychoanalysis institute to open. (1948, September 18). [Clipping from an unidentified Dayton, OH, United States, newspaper]. Copy in possession of author.

  • Parenthetical citation: (“Psychoanalysis Institute to Open,” 1948)
  • Narrative citation: “Psychoanalysis Institute to Open” (1948)
  • Use this format only if you are the person who is in possession of the newspaper clipping.

10. Historical publication of limited circulation

Sci-Art Publishers. (1935). Sci-Art publications [Brochure]. Roback Papers (HUGFP 104.50, Box 2, Folder “Miscellaneous Psychological Materials”), Harvard University Archives, Cambridge, MA, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Sci-Art Publishers, 1935)
  • Narrative citation: Sci-Art Publishers (1935)

11. Archived photographs, no author and no title

[Photographs of Robert M. Yerkes]. (ca. 1917–1954). Robert Mearns Yerkes Papers (Box 137, Folder 2292), Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, New Haven, CT, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: ([Photographs of Robert M. Yerkes], ca. 1917–1954)
  • Narrative citation: [Photographs of Robert M. Yerkes] (ca. 1917–1954)
  • Because the archived photographs do not have a title, provide a bracketed description instead.
  • Because the archived photographs do not have an author, move the bracketed description to the author position of the reference.

12. Microfilm

U.S. Census Bureau. (1880). 1880 U.S. census: Defective, dependent, and delinquent classes schedule: Virginia [Microfilm]. NARA Microfilm Publication T1132 (Rolls 33–34), National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (U.S. Census Bureau, 1880)
  • Narrative citation: U.S. Census Bureau (1880)

Read the full APA guidelines on citing ChatGPT 

OpenAI. (2023).  ChatGPT  (Mar 14 version) [Large language model].  https://chat.openai.com/chat

  • Parenthetical citation:  (OpenAI, 2023)
  • Narrative citation:  OpenAI (2023)

Author:  The author of the model is OpenAI.

Date:  The date is the year of the version you used. Following the template in Section 10.10, you need to include only the year, not the exact date. The version number provides the specific date information a reader might need.

Title:  The name of the model is “ChatGPT,” so that serves as the title and is italicized in your reference, as shown in the template. Although OpenAI labels unique iterations (i.e., ChatGPT-3, ChatGPT-4), they are using “ChatGPT” as the general name of the model, with updates identified with version numbers.

The version number is included after the title in parentheses. The format for the version number in ChatGPT references includes the date because that is how OpenAI is labeling the versions. Different large language models or software might use different version numbering; use the version number in the format the author or publisher provides, which may be a numbering system (e.g., Version 2.0) or other methods.

Bracketed text  is used in references for additional descriptions when they are needed to help a reader understand what’s being cited. References for a number of common sources, such as journal articles and books, do not include bracketed descriptions, but things outside of the typical peer-reviewed system often do. In the case of a reference for ChatGPT, provide the descriptor “Large language model” in square brackets. OpenAI describes ChatGPT-4 as a “large multimodal model,” so that description may be provided instead if you are using ChatGPT-4. Later versions and software or models from other companies may need different descriptions, based on how the publishers describe the model. The goal of the bracketed text is to briefly describe the kind of model to your reader.

Source:  When the publisher name and the author name are the same, do not repeat the publisher name in the source element of the reference, and move directly to the URL. This is the case for ChatGPT. The URL for ChatGPT is  https://chat.openai.com/chat . For other models or products for which you may create a reference, use the URL that links as directly as possible to the source (i.e., the page where you can access the model, not the publisher’s homepage).

What to include and what to exclude

Works included in a reference list.

The reference list provides a reliable way for readers to identify and locate the works cited in a paper. APA Style papers generally include reference lists, not  bibliographies.

In general, each work cited in the text must appear in the reference list, and each work in the reference list must be cited in the text. Check your work carefully before submitting your manuscript or course assignment to ensure no works cited in the text are missing from the reference list and vice versa, with only the following exceptions.

Works Excluded From a Reference List

There are a few kinds of works that are not included in a reference list. Usually a work is not included because readers cannot recover it or because the mention is so broad that readers do not need a reference list entry to understand the use.

Information on works included in a reference list is covered in Sections 2.12 and 8.4 of the  APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

*This guidance has been expanded from the 6th edition.*

  • Personal communications  such as emails, phone calls, or text messages are cited in the text only, not in the reference list, because readers cannot retrieve personal communications.
  • General mentions of whole websites, whole periodicals, and common software and apps in the text do not require in-text citations or reference list entries because the use is broad and the source is familiar.
  • The source of an epigraph does not usually appear in the reference list unless the work is a scholarly book or journal. For example, if you open the paper with an inspirational quotation by a famous person, the source of the quotation does not appear in the reference list because the quotation is meant to set the stage for the work, not substantiate a key point.   
  • Quotations from research participants in a study you conducted can be presented and discussed in the text but do not need citations or reference list entries. Citations and reference list entries are not necessary because the quotations are part of your original research. They could also compromise participants’ confidentiality, which is an ethical violation.
  • References included in a meta-analysis, which are marked with an asterisk in the reference list, may be cited in the text (or not) at the author’s discretion. This exception is relevant only to authors who are conducting a meta-analysis.

DOIs and URLs

The DOI or URL is the final component of a reference list entry. Because so much scholarship is available and/or retrieved online, most reference list entries end with either a DOI or a URL.

  • A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string that identifies content and provides a persistent link to its location on the internet. DOIs can be found in database records and the reference lists of published works.
  • A URL specifies the location of digital information on the internet and can be found in the address bar of your internet browser. URLs in references should link directly to the cited work when possible.

Follow these guidelines for including DOIs and URLs in references:

  • Include a DOI for all works that have a DOI, regardless of whether you used the online version or the print version.
  • If a print work does not have a DOI, do not include any DOI or URL in the reference.
  • If an online work has both a DOI and a URL, include only the DOI.
  • For works without DOIs from websites (not including academic research databases), provide a URL in the reference (as long as the URL will work for readers).
  • For works without DOIs from most  academic research databases , do not include a URL or database information in the reference because these works are widely available. The reference should be the same as the reference for a print version of the work.
  • For works from databases that publish original, proprietary material available only in that database (such as the UpToDate database) or for works of limited circulation in databases (such as monographs in the ERIC database), include the name of the database or archive and the URL of the work. If the URL requires a login or is session-specific (meaning it will not resolve for readers), provide the URL of the database or archive home page or login page instead of the URL for the work. See the page on including  database information in references  for more information. 
  • If the URL is no longer working or no longer provides readers access to the content you intend to cite, follow the guidance for works with  no source .
  • Other alphanumeric identifiers such as the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and the International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) are not included in APA Style references.

Follow these guidelines to format DOIs and URLs:

  • Present both DOIs and URLs as hyperlinks (i.e., beginning with “http:” or “https:”).
  • Because a hyperlink leads readers directly to the content, it is not necessary to include the words “Retrieved from” or “Accessed from” before a DOI or URL.
  • It is acceptable to use either the default display settings for hyperlinks in your word-processing program (e.g., usually blue font, underlined) or plain text that is not underlined.
  • Leave links live if the work is to be published or read online.
  • Follow the current recommendations of the International DOI Foundation to format DOIs in the reference list, which as of this publication is as follows:

https://doi.org/ xxxxx

  • The string “https://doi.org/” is a way of presenting a DOI as a link, and “xxxxx” refers to the DOI number.
  • The preferred format of the DOI has changed over time. Although older works use previous formats (e.g., “http:/dx.doi.org/” or “doi:” or “DOI:” before the DOI number), in your reference list, standardize DOIs into the current preferred format for all entries. For example, use  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0040251  in your reference even though that article, published in 2016, presented the number in an older format.
  • Copy and paste the DOI or URL from your web browser directly into your reference list to avoid transcription errors. Do not change the capitalization or punctuation of the DOI or URL. Do not add line breaks manually to the hyperlink; it is acceptable if your word-processing program automatically adds a break or moves the hyperlink to its own line.
  • Do not add a period after the DOI or URL because this may interfere with link functionality.

When a DOI or URL is long or complex, you may use shortDOIs or shortened URLs if desired.

  • Use the  shortDOI service  provided by the International DOI Foundation to create shortDOIs. A work can have only one DOI and only one shortDOI; the shortDOI service will either produce a new shortDOI for a work that has never had one or retrieve an existing shortDOI.
  • Some websites provide their own branded shortened URLs, and independent URL shortening services are available as well. Any shortened URL is acceptable in a reference as long as you check the link to ensure that it takes you to the correct location.
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APA Style (7th ed.)

  • Cite: Why? When?
  • Book, eBook, Dissertation
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Format Your Paper

Download and use the editable templates for student papers below: .

  • APA 7th ed. Template Document This is an APA format template document in Google Docs. Click on the link -- it will ask for you to make a new copy of the document, which you can save in your own Google Drive with your preferred privacy settings.
  • APA 7th ed. Template Document A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly according to APA 7th edition.
  • APA 7th ed. Annotated Bibliography template A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly for an annotated bibliography.

Or, view the directions for specific sections below:

Order of sections (section 2.17).

  • Title page including Title, Author, University and Department, Class, Instructor, and Date
  • Body (including introduction, literature review or background, discussion, and conclusion)
  • Appendices (including tables & figures)

Margins & Page Numbers (sections 2.22-2.24)

  • 1 inch at top, bottom, and both sides
  • Left aligned paragraphs and leave the right edge ragged (not "right justified")
  • Indent first line of each paragraph 1/2 inch from left margin
  • Use page numbers, including on the title page, 1/2 inch from top and flush with right margin

Text Format (section 2.19)

  • Times New Roman, 12 point
  • Calibri, 11 point
  • Arial, 11 point
  • Lucinda Sans Unicode, 10 point
  • Georgia, 11 point
  • Double-space and align text to the left
  • Use active voice
  • Don't overuse technical jargon
  • No periods after a web address or DOI in the References list.

Tables and Figures In-Text (chapter 7)

  • Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1)
  • Give each table column a heading and use separating lines only when necessary
  • Design the table and figure so that it can be understood on its own, i.e. it does not require reference to the surrounding text to understand it
  • Notes go below tables and figures

Title Page (section 2.3)

  • Include the title, your name,  the class name , and  the college's name
  • Title should be 12 words or less and summarize the paper's main idea
  • No periods or abbreviations
  • Do not italicize or underline
  • No quotation marks, all capital letters, or bold
  • Center horizontally in upper half of the page

Body (section 2.11)

  • Align the text to the left with a 1/2-inch left indent on the first line
  • Double-space
  • As long as there is no Abstract, at the top of the first page, type the title of the paper, centered, in bold , and in Sentence Case Capitalization
  • Usually, include sections like these:  introduction, literature review or background,  discussion, and conclusion -- but the specific organization will depend on the paper type
  • Spell out long organization names and add the abbreviation in parenthesis, then just use the abbreviation
  • Spell out numbers one through nine and use a number for 10 or more
  • Use a number for units of measurement, in tables, to represent statistical or math functions, and dates or times

Headings (section 2.26-2.27)

  • Level 1: Center, bold , Title Case 
  • Level 2: Align left, bold , Title Case
  • Level 3: Alight left, bold italics , Title Case
  • Level 4: Indented 1/2", bold , Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text. 
  • Level 5: Indented 1/2", bold italics , Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text. 

an illustration of the headings -- same detail as is given directly above this image

Quotations (sections 8.26-8.33)

  • Include short quotations (40 words or less) in-text with quotation marks
  • For quotes more than 40 words, indent the entire quote a half inch from the left margin and double-space it with no quotation marks
  • When quoting two or more paragraphs from an original source, indent the first line of each paragraph a half inch from the left margin
  • Use ellipsis (...) when omitting sections from a quote and use four periods (....) if omitting the end section of a quote

References (section 2.12)

Begins on a new page following the text of your paper and includes complete citations for the resources you've used in your writing.

  • References should be centered and bolded at the top of a new page
  • Double-space and use hanging indents (where the first line is on the left margin and the following lines are indented a half inch from the left)
  • List authors' last name first followed by the first and middle initials (ex. Skinner, B. F.)
  • Alphabetize the list by the first author's last name of of each citation (see sections 9.44-9.49)
  • Capitalize only the first word, the first after a colon or em dash, and proper nouns
  • Don't capitalize the second word of a hyphenated compound
  • No quotation marks around titles of articles

Appendices with Tables, Figures, & Illustrations (section 2.14, and chapter 7)

  • Include appendices only to help the reader understand, evaluate, or replicate the study or argument
  • Put each appendix on a separate page and align left
  • For text, do not indent the first paragraph, but do indent the rest
  • If you have only one appendix, label it "Appendix"
  • If you have two or more appendices, label them "Appendix A", "Appendix B" and so forth as they appear in the body of your paper
  • Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1, or Table B1 and Table B2 if Appendix B has two tables) and describe them within the text of the appendix
  • Notes go below tables and figures (see samples on p. 210-226)

Annotated Bibliography

Double-space the entire bibliography. give each entry a hanging indent. in the following annotation, indent the entire paragraph a half inch from the left margin and give the first line of each paragraph a half inch indent. see the template document at the top of this page..

  • Check with your professor for the length of the annotation and which elements you should evaluate.

These elements are optional, if your professor or field requires them, but they are  not required for student papers: 

Abstract (section 2.9).

  • Abstract gets its own page
  • Center "Abstract" heading and do not indent the first line of the text
  • Summarize the main points and purpose of the paper in 150-250 words maximum
  • Define abbreviations and acronyms used in the paper

Running Head (section 2.8 )

  • Shorten title to 50 characters or less (counting spaces and punctuation) for the running head
  • In the top margin, the running head is aligned left, with the page number aligned on the right
  • On every page, put (without the brackets): [SHORTENED TITLE OF YOUR PAPER IN ALL CAPS] [page number] 

More questions? Check out the authoritative source: APA style blog

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Citation Help

  • About Citing and Citation Styles
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APA (American Psychological Association) Style is most commonly used in the  social and behavioral sciences.

  • APA General Format The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create another kind of work (e.g., a website, conference poster, or PowerPoint presentation), you may need to format your work differently in order to optimize its presentation, for example, by using different line spacing and font sizes. Follow the guidelines of your institution or publisher to adapt APA Style formatting guidelines as needed.
  • In-text Citations In scholarly writing, it is essential to acknowledge how others contributed to your work. By following the principles of proper citation, writers ensure that readers understand their contribution in the context of the existing literature—how they are building on, critically examining, or otherwise engaging the work that has come before.
  • Reference List Check each reference carefully against the original publication to ensure information is accurate and complete. Accurately prepared references help establish your credibility as a careful researcher and writer. Consistency in reference formatting allows readers to focus on the content of your reference list, discerning both the types of works you consulted and the important reference elements (who, when, what, and where) with ease. When you present each reference in a consistent fashion, readers do not need to spend time determining how you organized the information. And when searching the literature yourself, you also save time and effort when reading reference lists in the works of others that are written in APA Style.
  • Sample Paper This page contains several sample papers formatted in seventh edition APA Style.
  • DOI Lookup: Crossref Search "Metadata". Crossref makes research outputs easy to find, cite, link, assess, and reuse. We’re a not-for-profit membership organization that exists to make scholarly communications better.
  • Basics of APA Tutorial This tutorial is designed for writers new to APA Style. Learn the basics of seventh edition APA Style, including paper elements, format, and organization; academic writing style; grammar and usage; bias-free language; mechanics of style; tables and figures; in-text citations, paraphrasing, and quotations; and reference list format and order. The Basics of Seventh Edition APA Style tutorial will permanently stay on this site for free.

APA Style from Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL)

  • APA 7th Handout Two page PDF covering common citation and reference types in APA.
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APA Headings and Subheadings | With Sample Paper

Published on November 7, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on October 24, 2022.

Headings and subheadings provide structure to a document. They signal what each section is about and allow for easy navigation of the document.

APA headings have five possible levels. Each heading level is formatted differently.

APA headings (7th edition)

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Table of contents

Additional guidelines for apa headings, how many heading levels should you use, when to use which apa heading level, section labels vs headings, sample paper with apa headings, using heading styles in word or google docs.

As well as the heading styles, there are some other guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Double-space all text, including the headings.
  • Use the same font for headings and body text (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt.).
  • Don’t label headings with numbers or letters.
  • Don’t add extra “enters” above or below headings.

Scribbr Citation Checker New

The AI-powered Citation Checker helps you avoid common mistakes such as:

  • Missing commas and periods
  • Incorrect usage of “et al.”
  • Ampersands (&) in narrative citations
  • Missing reference entries

apa style in research example

Depending on the length and complexity of your paper, you may not use all five heading levels. In fact, shorter student papers may have no headings at all.

It’s also perfectly fine for some sections in your paper to go as deep as five levels, where others use only heading level 1.

Heading level 1 is used for main sections like “ Methods ”, “ Results ”, and “ Discussion ”. There is no “ Introduction ” heading at the beginning of your paper because the first paragraphs are understood to be introductory.

Heading level 2 is used for subsections under level 1. For example, under “Methods” (level 1) you may have subsections for “Sampling Method” and “Data Analysis” (level 2). This continues all the way down to heading level 5.

Always use at least two subheadings or none at all. If there is just one subheading, the top-level heading is sufficient.

In addition to regular headings, APA works with “section labels” for specific parts of the paper. They’re similar to headings but are formatted differently. Section labels are placed on a separate line at the top of a new page in bold and centered.

Use section labels for the following sections in an APA formatted paper :

  • Author note
  • Paper title
  • Reference page

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

APA heading example (7th edition)

Instead of formatting every heading individually, you can use the “Styles” feature in Word or Google Docs. This allows you to save the styling and apply it with just a click.

The first time you use APA Style, you need to update the default heading styles to reflect the APA heading guidelines. Click here for the instructions for Microsoft Word and Google Docs .

An added benefit of using the “Styles” feature is that you can automatically generate a table of contents .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Streefkerk, R. (2022, October 24). APA Headings and Subheadings | With Sample Paper. Scribbr. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/apa-headings/

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*Psychology Resource Guide: APA Style

  • Search for Information
  • Psychological Testing
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  • Online Resources

Literature Review

What is a literature review?  

A literature is a paper that reviews and discusses the research in a particular subject area on a particular topic within a distinct time period.  For example, reviewing the long-term effects of divorce on children and reviewing the research from 2010-2020.  As researchers, literature reviews are useful resources to look at the works on a topic in a field and can provide background information.  Knowing what is available in the field, where there may be gaps, and the credibility of the authors can help us start our own research.  

Unlike, a research paper where you are developing a thesis and argument, a literature review serves as a summary of the available research and arguments already existing on a topic.  Think synthesis and summary for literature reviews.  

This website from UNC Writing Center has additional information on  strategies for writing a literature review .

Literature Review Example

  • Pulling the Trigger: A Systematic Literature Review of Trigger Warnings as a Strategy for Reducing Traumatization in Higher Education

Literature Review Key Tasks and How to Accomplish Them

APA Style Guide

apa style in research example

  • Reference Examples: APA Style Website

Citing Personal Communications--Emails, Interviews, Lectures, etc. in APA Format

Emails, letters, memos, telephone conversations, lectures, course materials handed out in class or provided via Blackboard, and personal interviews are considered personal communications in APA. This type of communication can be difficult to provide recoverable data; therefore, these types of communication are not included in the Reference list. Cite personal communications within the body of your paper only.  Information on citing communications .  

In an interview, Sally Shoefeld explained the treatment for an accident victim (personal communication, December 18, 2023).

Note: For more information about interviews, https://apastyle.apa.org/learn/faqs/cite-interview 

Writing an Op-ED

Resources for Writing in Social Psychology

  • Columbia University Earth Institute's: Writing and Submitting an Opinion Piece - A guide
  • Duke University: Writing Effective Op-Eds
  • How to Write an OpED Here’s advice on how to write an op-ed with impact.
  • The New Yorker: HellHole
  • Wrong Way to Fight Fat
  • Psychgeist Media

Campell University Writing Center

  • Campbell University Writing Center Location: 3rd floor Wiggins Library Bring any paper for any course and a trained Writing Coach will review and offer suggestions for improvement. The Writing Center is not a proofreading service, but will help you improve your writing and develop a stronger paper.

Instructional Pedagogy and Curriculum Materials Librarian

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

APA Sample Paper

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Note:  This page reflects APA 6, which is now out of date. It will remain online until 2021, but will not be updated. The equivalent APA 7 page can be found here .

Media File: APA Sample Paper

This resource is enhanced by an Acrobat PDF file. Download the free Acrobat Reader

Click this link to download the PDF handout of the APA Sample Paper.

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  1. Research Paper Apa Style

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  2. APA Format for Academic Papers and Essays [Template]

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  3. ️ Research paper format apa sample. How To Write APA Research Paper

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  4. Apa format free essay examples and research papers

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  6. 8+ APA Format Examples

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  1. referencing APA style part 1

  2. APA Style Review

  3. APA style research paper parts

  4. APA Style Referencing 7th Edition

  5. APA 7th Edition: References Lists

  6. APA FORMATTING AND STYLE GUIDE (7TH EDITION) FOR ARTICLES FROM A JOURNAL

COMMENTS

  1. Sample papers

    This page contains sample papers formatted in seventh edition APA Style. The sample papers show the format that authors should use to submit a manuscript for publication in a professional journal and that students should use to submit a paper to an instructor for a course assignment.

  2. APA Sample Paper

    Download the free Acrobat Reader Note: The APA Publication Manual, 7th Edition specifies different formatting conventions for student and professional papers (i.e., papers written for credit in a course and papers intended for scholarly publication).

  3. PDF Sample Student Paper

    Sample Student Paper (continued) 66 • PAPER ELEMENTS AND FORMAT journal article reference, 10.1 YouTube video reference, 10.12 short URL, 9.36 book reference, 10.2 report reference, 10.4 blog post reference, 10.1 conference presentation reference, 10.5 edited book chapter reference, 10.3 shortDOI, 9.36 ELEMENTS & FORMAT

  4. APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.)

    Knowledge Base APA Style 7th edition APA format for academic papers and essays APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.) | Generator, Template, Examples Published on November 6, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on January 17, 2024. This article reflects the APA 7th edition guidelines. Click here for APA 6th edition guidelines.

  5. APA Formatting and Style Guide (7th Edition)

    Basic Rules Basic guidelines for formatting the reference list at the end of a standard APA research paper Author/Authors Rules for handling works by a single author or multiple authors that apply to all APA-style references in your reference list, regardless of the type of work (book, article, electronic resource, etc.) Articles in Periodicals

  6. PDF APA 7 Student Sample Paper

    First name, middle initial(s), last name. Commented [AF4]: Authors' affiliations follow immediately after their names. For student papers, these should usually be the department containing the course for which the paper is being written.

  7. How to Write an APA Methods Section

    Research papers in the social and natural sciences often follow APA style. This article focuses on reporting quantitative research methods. In your APA methods section, you should report enough information to understand and replicate your study, including detailed information on the sample, measures, and procedures used.

  8. PDF ELEMENTS & FORMAT Sample Papers

    APA_PM7_Ch2-BLueline.indd 51 8/1/19 7:01 PM Sample Papers • 51 Sample Professional Paper (continued) Level 2 heading in the introduction, 2.27, Table 2.3, Figure 2.4 narrative citation, 8.11; paraphrasing, 8.23 parenthetical citation of a work with one author, 8.17 parenthetical citation for works with the same author and same date, 8.19

  9. A step-by-step guide for creating and formatting APA Style student papers

    This article walks through the formatting steps needed to create an APA Style student paper, starting with a basic setup that applies to the entire paper (margins, font, line spacing, paragraph alignment and indentation, and page headers). It then covers formatting for the major sections of a student paper: the title page, the text, tables and ...

  10. Reporting Research Results in APA Style

    Reporting Research Results in APA Style | Tips & Examples Published on December 21, 2020 by Pritha Bhandari . Revised on January 17, 2024. The results section of a quantitative research paper is where you summarize your data and report the findings of any relevant statistical analyses.

  11. Research Guides: APA Style, 7th edition: Formatting Your Paper

    Setting up page numbering for APA. 1.Set font as Times New Roman and size 12. 2.Click on Insert. 3.Click on Page Number. 4.Click on Top of Page. 5.Click on Plain Number 3 box. 6.Finish cover page (see pages 11 and 12 of the APA guide). 7.Go to second page. 8.Type your title in bold at the top and centered.

  12. Writing a Research Report in American Psychological Association (APA) Style

    Sample APA-Style Research Report. Figures 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, and 11.5 show some sample pages from an APA-style empirical research report originally written by undergraduate student Tomoe Suyama at California State University, Fresno. The main purpose of these figures is to illustrate the basic organization and formatting of an APA-style ...

  13. Reference Examples

    Printable Handouts & Tutorial Citing References: APA Style [PDF] APA Citation (7th ed.) YouTube Tutorials Playlist (UW-W Andersen Library) Get the Book Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition by American Psychological Association Publication Date: 2019

  14. Research Guides: APA Citation Style: Citation Examples

    Citation Examples - APA Citation Style - Research Guides at University of Delaware APA Citation Style Citations APA Style References Guidelines from the American Psychological Association APA Style (OWL - Online Writing Lab, Purdue University) Common Reference Examples Handout Citation Examples Journal Article Whole Book Magazine Article

  15. Format Your Paper

    Format Your Paper Download and use the editable templates for student papers below: APA 7th ed. Template Document This is an APA format template document in Google Docs. Click on the link -- it will ask for you to make a new copy of the document, which you can save in your own Google Drive with your preferred privacy settings.

  16. Reference examples

    We make every attempt to show examples that are in keeping with APA Style's guiding principles of inclusivity and bias-free language. These examples are presented out of context only to demonstrate formatting issues (e.g., which elements to italicize, where punctuation is needed, placement of parentheses).

  17. APA 7th

    APA General Format The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create another kind of work (e.g., a website, conference poster, or PowerPoint presentation), you may need to format your work differently in order to optimize its presentation, for example, by using different line ...

  18. General Format

    Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA. You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel.. General APA Guidelines. Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides.Include a

  19. APA Headings and Subheadings

    Knowledge Base APA Style 7th edition APA headings and subheadings APA Headings and Subheadings | With Sample Paper Published on November 7, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on October 24, 2022. This article reflects the APA 7th edition guidelines. Click here for APA 6th edition guidelines.

  20. PDF 7th edition Common Reference Examples Guide

    This guide contains examples of common types of APA Style references. Section numbers indicate where to find the examples in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

  21. LibGuides: *Psychology Resource Guide: APA Style

    For example, reviewing the long-term effects of divorce on children and reviewing the research from 2010-2020. As researchers, literature reviews are useful resources to look at the works on a topic in a field and can provide background information.

  22. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    research on something related to the course. Even if the instructor has introduced the assignment in class, make sure to read the prompt on your own. You'd be surprised how often someone comes to the Writing ... example below, key "old information" is repeated in the second sentence to help readers quickly see the connection. This makes ...

  23. In-Text Citations: The Basics

    Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style can be found here. Reference citations in text are covered on pages 261-268 of the Publication Manual. What follows are some general guidelines for referring to the works of others in your essay.

  24. Paper format

    Paper Format Consistency in the order, structure, and format of a paper allows readers to focus on a paper's content rather than its presentation. To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments.

  25. PDF APA 7th Edition Style

    APA style 7th Edition - Citing Books 5. Several volumes of a multivolume work Provide the name(s) of the editor(s)-in-chief as the editors of the work, even if the volume editors are different. Harris, K. R., Graham, S., & Urdan T. (Eds.). (2012). APA educational psychology handbook (Vols. 1—3). American Psychological Association.

  26. APA Sample Paper

    Note: This page reflects APA 6, which is now out of date. It will remain online until 2021, but will not be updated. The equivalent APA 7 page can be found here. Media File: APA Sample Paper. This resource is enhanced by an Acrobat PDF file. Download the free Acrobat Reader. Click this link to download the PDF handout of the APA Sample Paper.

  27. Hyphenation principles

    Compound words may be written as two separate words (e.g., health care), one hyphenated word (e.g., self-esteem), or one solid word (e.g., caregiver). In general, use the APA Dictionary of Psychology and the Merriam-Webster dictionary to determine hyphenation.