How to Write an Essay in the APA Format – Simple Instructions

The APA format is the standard method of citing sources for disciplines within the social sciences. The formatting rules set the specific s for in-text citations, footnotes/endnotes, and the reference page. There are many great guides that go over all of the rules; however, these simple instructions should be enough to get properly write an essay in the APA format:

General APA Formatting Guidelines

Your essay should be printed on a standard 8.5 X 11-inch white paper with 1-inch margins all the way around. Use standard 12-pt legible font (e.g., Arial or Times New Roman) and double spaced throughout. Indent the first line of each paragraph by using the Tab key on your keyboard or manually putting in 5 spaces (or 1/2-inch). A separate title page might be required in a lot of disciplines within the social sciences, so double check with your instructor before getting started.

In Text-Citations for Borrowed Material

Anything you borrow from another resource (data, ideas, quotes, or paraphrased content) needs to be cited properly to give credit to the original author. Citation information should be placed at the end of the cited material within parentheses. Be sure to include the author’s name, the year of publication and the page number where the original cited material could be found in the original resource. Alternatively you can also include the author’s name within the sentence and omit it from appearing in the parentheses.

Using Footnotes and Endnotes

Use footnotes or endnotes when you want to add further information on an idea you mention in your main text but digress enough off the discussion topic that it would interrupt the flow of thought. The extra information included in footnotes or endnotes should be concise (about 3 or 4 lines maximum). Avoid using lengthy paragraphs and don’t get off the topic or provide extraneous information that would be regarded as unuseful.

Citations on the Reference Page

The reference page should include all of the resources you used in your essay. It should go at the end of your essay on a new numbered page. A simple way of putting this in is to add a page break at the end of the main text. At the top of the page center the title “References” in plain text with no bold, underline, or italics. The spacing should be double-spaced throughout and citations should be ordered alphabetically.