APA General Guidelines

PLEASE NOTE: APA information here is directly taken from OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab.  Note also this information is based on the 6th edition of the APA Style Manual. Resources reflecting the new 7th edition of the manual are scheduled to be published early Spring 2020. I have added some information in the APA pages reflecting the new rules.

Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.

Include a page header (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page.  Insert page numbers flush right.  Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.

Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Title Page:

The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page.  For an example of how this should look see: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html 


  • Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above).
  • On the first line of the abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting, italics, underlining, or quotation marks).
  • Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.)
  • Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions.
  • You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings.
  • The Abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced.
  • Abstract should be between 150 and 250 words.
  • You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.

Please note: While the APA manual provides many examples of how to cite common types of sources, it does not provide rules on how to cite all types of sources. Therefore, if you have a source that APA does not include, APA suggests that you find the example that is most similar to your source and use that format.



Content last reviewed: January 13, 2020