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APA 6th and 7th Edition Citation Guide

General Guidelines for Formatting

Formatting of APA 6th Edition Papers 

For a full sample, see the Sample Paper in the APA 6th edition manual. Be sure to follow these guidelines:

Order of Elements (the bold elements are required for every APA paper):

  • Title Page (page 1)
  • Abstract (if required for the guidelines; start this on a new page)
  • Body of the essay 
  • References (start on a new page)
  • Footnotes (start on a new page)
  • Tables (each table starts on its own new page)
  • Figures (each on a new page)
  • Appendices (each on a new page)

Running head and page numbers

The running head and page numbers must be present in the header of each page of an APA 6th edition paper. See the "Title Page" tab above for more on this.

Font and Size

The recommended font is 12-point Times New Roman.

Fonts can sometimes be different sizes in figure headings or footnotes. However, generally speaking, the font and size must be consistent throughout the entire paper.

Spacing and Margins

The entire paper should be consistently double-spaced, including between paragraphs.

The margins should be 1 inch (or 2.54cm) on all sides of the page.

Paragraphs should be aligned with the left side of the page, and each new paragraph should be indented (hit "Tab") - each indent should be 0.5 inches.

APA 6th Edition requires the following components on a title page:

Title of Your Paper

Your Name

Institution Name

These three pieces of information should be centered, and placed near the upper-middle part of the page, as shown in the sample title page below.


















The title page also sets up the running head, which consists of the words "Running head:" followed by your title, or a shortened version of your title, in ALL CAPS. 

The all-caps portion of the running head is also placed in the left side of the header at the top of all following pages, while page numbers (starting from 1 on the title page) are in the upper right hand corner of every page.

For more information on how to format the running head in Word, watch this video from 0:56 to 1:50 -


  • Headings provide a structure for your ideas and help guide the reader through your paper.
  • Do not use numbers or letters with headings;
  • Introduction paragraphs do not need headings.
  • Student papers usually require only two or three levels of headings.

Headings are formatted as follows:

Level 1 (Main idea)

Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading

Level 2 (Sub-topic for main idea)

Flush Left, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading

Level 3 (Sub-topic for sub-topic)

          Indented, boldface, lowercase heading ending with a period.

See APA, 2010, p. 62-63 Table 3.1 for more details.

Reference Page Formatting Guidelines

  • Running head (shortened version of your title in all caps) and page number are still present on the reference page. 
  • Title the page References - normal font, centered on the page. 
  • The reference list is alphabetized according to the last names of the first listed authors of each source.
  • Each entry is also in a 'hanging indent'. The first line of each entry is flush with the left margin, and the rest of the lines of each entry are indented, as shown below:

The video below explains how to create a hanging indent in Microsoft Word. 

For more information about formatting the reference list, see the "Reference List" tab on the left sidebar of this page, or page 37 (section 2.11) of the APA 6th edition manual.

Add brochures, tables, lists, or other important information that does not fit in your paper in an appendix.

  • An appendix starts on a new page of the document after the references.
  • If you only need one appendix, title the page Appendix (centered, not bold).
  • If you need multiple appendices, label them Appendix A, Appendix B, and so on.
  • When referring to appendix materials in the body of your paper, you can write something like (see Appendix A) to point readers towards that information.
    For more information about the use and formatting of appendices, see page 38 (section 2.13) of the APA 6th edition manual.

Abbreviations (APA, 2010, pp. 106-111)

  • In general, use abbreviations only (a) if it is conventional and if the reader is more familiar with the abbreviation than with the complete form, or (b) if considerable space can be saved and cumbersome repetition avoided.
  • A term to be abbreviated must, on its first appearance, be written out completely and followed immediately by its abbreviation in parentheses; thereafter, use abbreviation only.

The first president of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) was Mary Agnes Snively. CNA was formed in 1908 and was originally called the Canadian National Association of Trained Nurses (CNATN).

  • Never begin a sentence with a lowercase abbreviation (e.g., lb); write out the word instead.
  • Contractions (e.g., “don’t, “it’s, “won’t”) are not permitted; write out the entire word (e.g., “do not”, “it is”, “will not”)
  • Exclamation marks are not appropriate unless they are part of a direct quote.

Numbers (APA, 2010, pp. 111-115)

  • As a general rule, use figures to express double-digit numbers (e.g., 10 and above, 4.5 inches) and words to express numbers below 10.

There are 26 patients on this unit.

There are two nurses on night shift.

  • Use words to express any number that begins a sentence, title, or heading.

Twelve subjects left the experiment.

  • To make plurals out of numbers, add s only, with no apostrophe (e.g., 1960s).
  • Use the percent symbol (%) only with figures (5%) not with written numbers (five percent).

Chapter 3 of the APA 6th edition manual, titled "Writing Concisely," discusses bias and how to write clearly.
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