Automatic APA Format - Guides & Tools

The APA Formatting Guide & Tools

Last UPdate 2017

Many of you probably learned how to use MLA format in high school, or even in your first year of college writing courses. While MLA format is the standard for most research papers in many fields, it’s not the only way to write a research paper.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has its own standards for writing research papers. If you’re taking classes or majoring in the sciences, you will mainly write in APA format. Once you move on to your professional field, you will continue using APA in your professional writing as well.

While MLA and APA have many similarities, they are quite different too. Knowing both formats means you should be able to write papers for just about any class! APA takes a little bit of getting used to, but with help from Formatically's tools, you can easily write papers in APA format that will get you high marks from your teachers!

APA Format: The Basics

When it comes to writing in APA format, there are some basics you should know about before starting. Even if you use a template or formatting help like Formatically, you should be familiar with what an APA paper looks like.

You don’t want to find out you used an outdated or incorrect template or tool – so knowing a few details can be a life saver!

Page Formatting

Formatting pages in APA is pretty easy, and will look similar to how you learned to do it in MLA format. Here is how to set up your pages in APA:

  • 1 inch margins on all sides
  • 12 pt. Times New Roman font (or something in a similar size)
  • Double-space the entire paper
  • Indent each paragraph by ½ inch (use the “tab” key on your keyboard)
  • Create a “running header” on the top of each page that includes:
  1. A basic title for the paper in the top-left corner in ALL CAP
  2. Page numbers in the upper-right corner
  3. Make sure it’s 1 inch from sides and top of the page (this will look like it’s too far down compared to MLA, but it’s okay)

Title Page

Unlike MLA format, you will need to include a separate Title Page when writing in APA format. Your title page should include:

  • Running header, just like we talked about above, but labeled “Running Head:” before it (only do this on the title page…after that, just put the title in the upper-left corner)
  • Title of your paper
  • Author’s first and last name (Odds are, that’s your name!)
  • Name of college you’re attending
  • Course information or professor’s name (optional – check with your professor)
  • Due date (again, this is optional and depends on your professor)

To learn more on how to format an APA title page, check out our detailed guide here to learn more and see examples! **Link to article on APA title pages?**

Abstract

Another thing MLA doesn’t require you to do is write an abstract. An abstract is a short summary of your paper’s main points and findings, and sometimes it can include keywords to make searching for your paper easier. 

We write abstracts in APA so researchers can look through articles quickly and find relevant material without wasting hours skimming long articles or books. You may even be familiar with abstracts from doing your own research – they make finding good research much easier!

An APA format abstract needs to have the following:

  • Use the same running header you do for the rest of your paper.
  • Title this page “Abstract” with the title centered and not in bold.
  • Do not indent the paragraph!
  • Your abstract should be 250 words or less in most cases, unless your professor says differently!
  • If you’re adding keywords, add them at the bottom of the page, labeled Keywords in italics. Keep it to 3-4 relevant keywords (This isn’t an Instagram hashtag party!)

Formatting your abstract should be a piece of cake, and you can find several examples online for how they should look. Or better yet – let Formatically help!

Main Body

The main body of your paper should look a lot like an MLA research paper. You’ll use the same header you already created, double-spaced, and use in-text citations. How you organize your body paragraphs will depend on your topic or purpose, but generally they follow a similar format:

  • An introduction that presents the topic or problem to readers, and goes in more detail than your abstract.
  • A thesis statement or hypothesis that tells readers what you think the main argument or results will be as a result of your research.
  • Several body paragraphs that either prove your thesis, or explain your research methods.
  • If you’re writing about research you’ve done, you’ll also explain the results of your research in detail.
  • End the paper with either a strong conclusion with a call to action, or a discussion about the implications or next steps in your research.

To learn more about how to properly cite sources in APA format, check out our article on that here! How to properly cite sources in APA.

If you’d rather not deal with all of this, consider letting Formatically do the dirty work for you instead! We can help you create a paper in the proper format, and make sure you have everything included to make an A+ paper!

Reference Page

The last thing you’ll need in your paper is your References page. This will look almost identical to an MLA format “Works Cited” page, thankfully! Here are some basic pointers on how to format one:

  • Use the same running headline you’ve been using.
  • Title your page References, with the title centered and bolded
  • Double-space and use a hanging indent for each entry (where the first line is all the way to the left, but all lines under it are indented)
  • Alphabetize your sources by author’s last name or first word of title (if it doesn’t have an author)
  • Use proper APA format for each entry, and put information in the right order with proper punctuation!

While we do cover how to do APA references (**Link to article on APA references?**), you could also use Formatically’s reference tools to help you find the right format for each of your sources! 

How can Formatically help me format my APA paper?

The APA formatting side of Formatically is coming soon. The best thing you can do now, is head to the APA beta sign up page, and save a spot in line.

Sign up for the APA format beta above!

The new APA style tools will format every part of an essay automatically. Headers, in-text citations, covers, and resource pages will all be included in documents created with Formatically.

Other Tools & Resources

Every paid tool comes with a free trial! Check it out!
Automatic APA Formatting
Try it out for Free ⇢
RUNNING HEADER
Title of an APA Paper

An abstract is a single paragraph, without indentation, that summarizes the key points of the manuscript in 150 to 250 words. For simpler papers in Paul Rose’s classes, a somewhat shorter abstract is fine. The purpose of the abstract is to provide the reader with a brief overview of the paper. When in doubt about a rule, check the sixth edition APA style manual rather than relying on this template. (Although I prefer only one space after a period, two spaces after a period are suggested by the sixth­edition APA manual at the top of page 88.) This document has a history that compels me to give credit where it’s due. Many years ago I downloaded a fifth­edition template from an

A+
Complete MLA Format
Try it out for Free ⇢
Header 3Works Cited

 on the outcome of one man's idealistic motives and desires of dabbling with nature, which result in the creation of a horrific creature. Victor Frankenstein is not doomed to failure from his initial desire to overstep the natural bounds of human knowledge. Rather, it is his poor parenting of his progeny that lead to his creation's thirst for the vindication of his unjust life. In his idealism, Victor is blinded, and so the creation accuses him for delivering him into a world where he could not ever be entirely received by the people who inhabits it. Not only failing to foresee his faulty idealism, nearing the end of the tale, he embarks upon a final journey, consciously choosing to pursue his creation in vengeance, while admitting that it may result in his own doom. The creation of an unloved being and the quest for the elixir of life holds Victor Frankenstein more accountable for his own death than the creation himself.

Header 2Works Cited

Although humans have the tendency to set idealistic goals to better future generations, often the results can prove disastrous, even deadly. The tale of Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, focuses on the outcome of one man's idealistic motives and desires of dabbling with nature, which result in the creation of a horrific creature. Victor Frankenstein is not doomed to failure from his initial desire to overstep the natural bounds of human knowledge. Rather, it is his poor parenting of his progeny that lead to his creation's thirst for the vindication of his unjust life. In his idealism, Victor is blinded, and so the creation accuses him for delivering him into a world where he could not ever be entirely received by the people who inhabits it. Not only failing to foresee his faulty idealism, nearing the end of the tale, he embarks upon a final journey, consciously choosing to pursue his creation in vengeance, while admitting that it may result in his own doom. The creation of an unloved being and the quest for the elixir of life holds Victor Frankenstein more accountable for his own death than the creation himself.

Your Name Header 1
Teacher
Class
Due Date
This is the Title

Although humans have the tendency to set idealistic goals to better future generations, often the results can prove disastrous, even deadly. The tale of Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, focuses on the outcome of one man's idealistic motives and desires of dabbling with nature, which result in the creation of a horrific creature. Victor Frankenstein is not doomed to failure from his initial desire to overstep the natural bounds of human knowledge. Rather, it is his poor parenting of his progeny that lead to his creation's thirst for the vindication of his unjust life. In his idealism, Victor is blinded, and so the creation accuses him for delivering him into a world where he could not ever be entirely received by the people who inhabits it. Not only failing to foresee his faulty idealism, nearing the end of the tale, he embarks upon a final journey, consciously choosing to pursue his creation in vengeance, while admitting that it may result in his own doom. The creation of an unloved being and the quest for the elixir of life holds Victor Frankenstein more accountable for his own death than the creation himself.