APA manuscript format
This section presents guidelines for formatting a manuscript according to APA style. Also see the sample research paper formatted in APA style and guidelines for preparing the reference list.
Materials and typeface
Use good-quality 8 ½" x 11" white paper. For a paper typed on a computer, make sure that the print quality meets your instructor's standards. Avoid a typeface that is unusual or hard to read.
Begin a college paper with a title page. Type the page number, flush right (against the right margin), about one-half inch from the top of the page. Before the page number type a short title, consisting of the first two or three words of your title.
The APA manual does not provide guidelines for the placement of certain information necessary for college papers, but most instructors will want you to supply a title page.
Margins, spacing, and indentation
Use margins of at least one inch on all sides of the page. If you are working on a computer, do not justify the right margin.
Double-space throughout the paper, and indent the first line of each paragraph one-half inch (or five spaces).
For quotations longer than forty words, indent each line one-half inch (or five spaces) from the left margin. Double-space between the body of the paper and the quotation, and double-space between lines in the quotation. Quotation marks are not needed when a quotation is indented.
Page numbers and short title
In the upper right-hand corner of each page, about one-half inch from the top of the page, type the page number, preceded by the short title that you typed on the title page. Number all pages, including the title page.
Punctuation and typing
Although the APA guidelines call for one space after all punctuation, many college professors allow (or even prefer) two spaces at the end of a sentence. Use one space after all other punctuation.
To form a dash, type two hyphens with no space between them. Do not put a space on either side of the dash.
If your instructor requires one, include an abstract right after the title page. Center the word "Abstract" about one inch from the top of the page; double-space the text of the abstract as you do the body of your paper.
An abstract is a 75-to-100-word paragraph that provides readers with a quick overview of your essay. It should express your thesis (or central idea) and your key points; it should also briefly suggest any implications or applications of the research you discuss in the paper.
Although headings are not necessary, their use is encouraged in the social sciences. For most undergraduate papers, use no more than one or two levels of headings. Major headings should be centered, with the first letter of important words capitalized; minor words — articles, short prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions — are not capitalized unless they are the first word. Subheadings should be typed flush left (against the left margin) and underlined; the rules on capitalization are the same as for major headings. See an APA paper with headings.
The APA classifies visuals as tables and figures (figures include graphs, charts, drawings, and photographs). Keep visuals as simple as possible. Label each clearly — Table 1, Figure 3, and so on — and include a caption that concisely describes its subject. In the text of your paper, discuss the most significant features of each visual. Ask your instructor for guidelines on placement of visuals in the .paper.
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