APA Style

American Psychological Association (APA) Style

American Psychological Association Style (APA) is one of the top three citation styles used by editors, professors, and publishers as an aid to preparing manuscripts in English. APA style is used in academic writing in


  • Computer science and information management
  • Education
  • Environmental and physical sciences
  • Human, behavioral, social, and political sciences
  • Linguistics


When you use APA style to cite your sources, you use the author- date citation. Once you start using APA style, you’ll quickly pick up how to use it.


Knowing What to Cite


When in doubt, cite your source. You should include citations for


  • Direct quotes
  • Statistics
  • Websites you use for quotes
  • Visuals like pictures, graphs, diagrams, or tables
  • Summarized or paraphrased ideas that aren’t your own


Understanding Plagiarism


When you write a paper for a class, you must cite the sources you use. If you don’t cite your sources, the university and your professor could interpret that as plagiarism. The University of North Texas considers plagiarism as the use of another’s thoughts or words without proper attribution in any academic exercise, regardless of the student’s intent, including but not limited to:


  • The knowing or negligent use by paraphrase or direct quotation of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement or citation.
  • The knowing or negligent unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or by an agency engaged in selling term papers or other academic materials.


Plagiarism and/or academic dishonesty are grounds for expulsion from the university. For more information on the university’s policy on this topic, go to: http://vpaa.unt.edu/academic-integrity.htm


Using Electronic Resources for APA Style


You can find out about APA style on their website:



The APA website is easy to use, and you’ll find answers to most of your formatting and citation questions there. Accessing the online version of APA style is the best way for you to learn how to use it. Even experienced writers have to refer to a style guide for the correct way to cite their sources. We highly recommend watching the tutorial on the APA website: http://www.apastyle.org/learn/tutorials/basics-tutorial.aspx


The UNT Library also has multiple online resources for APA style: http://www.library.unt.edu/help/tutorials/apa-style-sciences


Checking That You’ve Cited Your Sources Correctly

You can also check that you’ve used APA citations correctly by using the Citation Machine website:



You may also want to check with your professor to see if you’ve cited your sources correctly and if your paper format looks correct.


Formatting Your Paper in Accordance with the APA

On the next pages, we’ll show you how your paper should look, and we’ll give you tips on how to set up the formatting. We’ll also show you how to cite the most common sources for papers.


We will not address every type of citation you might use. Remember to access to the online version of the APA for citations we don’t address in this handout.

APA papers are typically divided into these sections:


  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Appendices





Some professors require you to include an abstract. An abstract is a brief paragraph of 150-250 words that gives readers an overview of your paper. Your abstract should include your main idea and your key points. You may also state any applications or implications of the research as you discuss it in your paper.

You may also want to include a list of keywords. These keywords could help a reader locate your paper if it were published and entered into a database. Skip one space after the last line of your abstract. Italicize the word “keywords” and put a colon after it. Then list words related to your paper.


Keywords: chicken, poultry, crosswalk, eggs


Start your paper by inserting a header with your last name and the page number. To insert the header, go to the “insert” ribbon on Microsoft Word. Go to the “header” section of this ribbon, which is the third section from the right. Click on “header.” Go down to “edit header.” Go to “page number,” which is the first section from the left. Place your cursor in front of the number. Type the words “Running Head;” then type a colon, one space, and the title of your paper in all capital letters. The header should be flush with the left margin, and the page number should be flush with the right margin. Make sure the typeface is set to Times New Roman at a 12-point font (the size of the type). Close the header ribbon.


Indent ½” from the left margin of the paper each time you start a new paragraph. Set the margins to 1” on the top, bottom, and sides of your paper. The running head continues once your paper begins; it should include the title of your paper. The page numbers also continue in the upper-right corner. Double space the entire paper, including between lines of text and titles, headings, and block quotations. Indent the first line of every paragraph ½” from the left margin. Keep the right margin uneven, or “ragged.”


On some papers in APA style you will include a heading; for most papers you write as an undergraduate, one level of heading is all you will need. That type of heading is called a “first-level heading.” In research papers or lab reports, you will typically have headings that read “Method,” “Results,” and “Discussion.” Center and boldface these headings.


In APA style, use the author-date citation system, which allows readers to find the sources you cited in an alphabetical reference list on the last page of your paper. When you use a quote, embed it in a sentence of your own commentary. For instance, “look at what we just did here. We started the sentence with ‘for instance’ and then went on with the quote. Sophisticated writers do this because a quote really should not be floating around unanchored in your paper. You are a college writer now, and you are ready to demonstrate a masterful technique (Fowler, 2012). See that stuff in parenthesis at the end of that sentence? That’s an author-date citation. Refer to the APA website for more information about how to write the author-date citations for a variety of sources.


If you are using a quote that is longer than forty words, set it off from the rest of the text by tabbing over once, like this


When you tab over for this longer quote, you do not use quotation marks. Setting off the quote by tabbing the text indicates that you have just quoted something. Make certain that you continue your paper by commenting on the quote. It is up to you to explain to your reader how and why this quoted material fits into your paper. The reader cannot ask you questions, and the reader also cannot read your mind. If you think to yourself, “They will know what I mean,” you are dead wrong. That is your job. Make it crystal clear how the quote fits into your paper. (p. 123) If you use a table, graph, drawing, photograph, chart, or map in your

paper, you must also indicate your source. You can use a note to include the


citation information for the reader. Use a sans serif typeface like Arial for the Table or Figure headers.


Table 1


Types of Chicken Road Crossing Jokes



Note. This silly table was retrieved from http://www.sitepoint.com/ getting-started-mysql/


Just as you would comment on a quote you inserted in your paper, you should also comment on any visual representations you place in your paper. Help the reader understand the significance of the visual.

Once you have concluded your paper, you will move on to the References page. Double space each entry on the References page. The References page is numbered sequentially with the rest of your paper; if the last page of your paper is page 7, the References will be on page 8. The first line of each entry on the References page is flush with the left margin. Subsequent lines are indented ½”.




Book with One Author


Last Name, First Initial. Year. Title. City: Publisher.


Book with Two or More Authors


Last Name, First Name & First Name Last Name. Year. Title. City: Publisher.


Article in a Printed Journal


Last Name, First Name. Year. “Title of the Article,” Title of the Journal Volume#, pages.


Article from a Website


Last Name, First Name. Year. Title of the Article, Retrieved from: URL.

Some Notes about the Bibliography Page


  • List all the works you cited.
  • Put the list in alphabetical order by the author’s Last Name, First Name.
  • Start the first line of each entry at the left margin.
  • Indent the second line of each entry ½” from the left margin.
  • Double space entries.
  • Consult the online version of the APA for the way to format entries other than the ones on this page.