APA formatting

How to Format Your Paper

This section is a guide to the following:


For an in-depth explanation of APA formatting with examples, please click here.


Formatting Your Title Page


A page header should be included in the top left-hand and right-hand corner of every page of the document. The header should include a two-to-three word abbreviated title in all caps flushed left and then the page number flushed right.


Your running head, located in the top left-hand corner of the title page, should include the words, "Running head," followed by a colon and an abbreviated title of your paper, limited to 50 characters in all caps. This is on the same line as your page number, but flushed left.


Your title page should include:


  • the same page header that will appear on every page of the document:
  • your running head
  • your full-length title
  • your name
  • a company you are working for or university you are attending



The title, author, and company or university should be included in the upper half or center of the title page, each centered on separate lines and double-spaced. Your title may be included on one or two lines, but should not exceed more than 12 words.




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Formatting Your Abstract


On a new page, begin the abstract page. It should include a header as described above, just without the words "Running head." Center the word "Abstract" on the first line.

Without indenting on the following line, write a concise summary, highlighting the main points of your research. The abstract should be a single paragraph that consists of 150-250 words, double-spaced.


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Formatting Your Overall Paper


This section includes the guidelines for both the abstract and main body sections.


  • Page header
  • Font and Spacing
  • Margins
  • Headings and Subheadings


Page header

A page header should be included at the top of every page of the document. It should include a two-to-three word abbreviated title flushed left with the page number flushed right.


Font and Spacing

Set your font to Times New Roman or a similar standard serif font at 12-point size. Double-space your entire document.


Use standard size paper (8 ½" X 11"). The margins on your paper should all be 1" wide. Justify your paper on the left-hand side.

Headings and Subheadings

APA Style uses an original system for headings with five heading levels. They are formatted as follows:

Determine how many levels of headings your paper will require. The introduction of your paper usually does not need a heading. How many levels of headings you use is determined by how many levels of subordination are in your paper. Here is a sample organization to demonstrate this:


  • Domestic Animals
    • Cats
      • City cats
      • Country cats
    • Dogs
      • City dogs
      • Country dogs


The heading "Domestic Animals" is on one level, the headings "Cats" and "Dogs" are on a different level, and the headings "City cats," "Country cats," "City dogs," and "Country dogs" are all on another level. Thus, the paper has three levels of headings because it is three levels deep.


You might only use one level of headings in your paper; most papers will only use three levels.

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