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BA1040_2910 - Vasileiou

APA 7th Edition Overall Formatting

Formatting of APA 7th Edition Papers 

For a full sample, see the Sample Student Paper found on page 61 of the APA 7th edition manual, or here

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)

Page numbers

These should be placed in the top right corner in the header of each page, starting from 1 on the title page.

Font and Size

Some possible fonts and sizes that you can choose from include the following:

  • 11-point Calibri
  • 11-point Arial
  • 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode
  • 12-point Times New Roman
  • 11-point Georgia
  • 10-point (normal) Computer Modern

Fonts can 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.

If you are unsure about the formatting requirements for a specific assignment, please contact your instructor. 

Title Page Formatting

For student papers, APA 7th edition requires the following elements on title pages, in the arrangement shown below:

Title of Your Paper


Your Name

Department and Institution Name

Course Name and Number

Instructor Name

Assignment Due Date (Month Day, Year)

These elements should be centered and placed somewhere in the top half of the page (3 or 4 lines down is good). Note that there is an extra space between the title and the rest of the information.

Additionally, the page number 1 should be placed in the header, at the top right corner of the title page, as shown in the sample below:

Sample title page created by Claire Pienaar, 2019.

For an additional sample title page for student papers, see page 32 (Figure 2.2) of the APA 7th edition manual.


  • 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 one to 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)

Flush Left, Boldface and Italics, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading

For more information on the formatting of headings, see the inside cover or page 48 (Table 2.3 and Figures 2.4 and 2.5) of the APA 7th edition manual.

Reference Page Formatting Guidelines

  • The final page number is still present on the reference page. 
  • Title the page References - bold and centered on the page. 
  • The reference list is alphabetized according to the last names of the first listed authors of each source.
  • Except for the titles of full journals, every other type of title in the reference list only capitalizes the first word, any words immediately after colons, any acronyms, and any proper nouns (like the name of a country or a person). See the page below for examples.
  • 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:

Sample reference page created by Claire Pienaar, 2019.

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 pages 39-40 (Section 2.12) of the APA 7th edition manual.

Creating an Appendix

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 41 (section 2.14) of the APA 7th edition manual.

Writing Tips for APA Papers

Section 4 (starting from page 111) of the APA 7th edition manual outlines several writing considerations for APA 7th edition papers. Some key aspects are summarized below.

General Tips (Sections 4.1 - 4.12)

  • Ensure that your ideas are expressed in a logical order with smooth transitions between ideas. See Section 4.2 for a list of helpful transitional phrases.


  • Be concise and clear. Avoid wordiness, repetition, unclear sentence structures, or overly long paragraphs wherever possible. See Section 4.5 for examples of common repetitive phrases, and Section 4.10 on avoiding unclear sentence structure.


  • Avoid contractions (e.g., instead of "don't," write the full words "do not"), conversational phrases (e.g., instead of "to write up," use "to report"), and excessive jargon (e.g., make sure that all field-specific terms that your reader would not understand are made clear, either through a direct definition or through the term's context). See Sections 4.8 and 4.9 for more.


  • Keep tenses (e.g., past tense, present tense) consistent and appropriate. See Section 4.12 for more.

Use of First/Second/Third Person and Pronouns (Sections 4.16 - 4.21)

  • First Person: Using "I" is acceptable only when speaking about personal events or research that you personally conducted. Generally, it's better to avoid using "I" for student papers. "We" can be used only if you wrote a paper with a partner/partners; do not use "we" to refer to humans in general, or specific groups of people, as this can lead to unintentional bias. For example, instead of "We all need to understand more about outsourcing," write something like "A greater understanding of outsourcing would be beneficial to all Canadians." This also allows you to be more specific about the group(s) you are discussing.


  • Second Person: "You" is essentially never needed in APA papers, unless it is part of a direct quote. Like with "we," do not use "you" to refer to people in general. For example, instead of "To become a nurse, you need to pass exams," write something like "Nursing students must pass exams to enter the profession."


  • Third Person: The most common perspective used in academic writing is the third person (he/she/they/it).


  • Singular "They": In addition to the plural use of "they," the use of singular "they" is permitted, both in cases where individuals use they/them pronouns, and in cases where gender or number of people is unknown or irrelevant to the context. This helps avoid unintentional gender bias. For example, "Every student had their homework returned to them."
    • You may use "he," "she," or "he or she" when you are certain that those pronouns reflect the gender(s) of the person/people being discussed. Do not use "s/he" or "(s)he." See Section 4.18 for more.


  • "Who" vs. "That": Be sure to use "who" when referring to people instead of "that." For example, "The people who work for this corporation," not "the people that work for this corporation." See Section 4.19 for more.


***Note that the above examples include all uses of pronouns (e.g., everything written about "I" also applies to the words "me" and "my," everything about "we" also applies to "us" and "our," etc.)***

 Tips to Improve Your Writing (Sections 4.25 - 4.30)

  • Learn through example. One of the best ways to get an idea of what an APA paper should sound like is reading other APA papers and observing the way those papers present information.


  • Outline. Using an outline helps you keep your work organized, logical, smooth, and on-topic throughout.


  • Reread and review. Leave yourself plenty of time not just to write your paper, but to put it aside for several days so that you can reread it with fresh eyes. This will allow you to catch more errors and develop a stronger final draft. When revising your paper, keep questions such as the following in mind (from Section 4.30, p. 127):

  • Is the central point or thesis clear?
  • Do the arguments follow logically from the thesis?
  • Is the information well-organized?
  • Is the paper meeting assignment guidelines? Does it have everything mentioned in the rubric?


  • Ask others for help. Asking your colleagues, classmates, instructors, friends, and/or tutors to help you go over your work will also help you revise and become more familiar with APA conventions and expectations, as well as how to implement them in your own writing.

The above tips focus largely on the content of a paper. For more tips on the mechanics of style (e.g., how to use punctuation or italics properly), see Chapter 6 of the APA 7th edition manual.


  • Use abbreviations or acronyms only when they help with clarity and conciseness.


  • Abbreviations that can be used without being defined first include the following:
    • Terms in the dictionary (e.g., AIDS, IQ)
    • Time words (e.g., hr, min)
    • Length/width/distance words (e.g., cm, mm, km)
    • Other measurement words (e.g., °C, km/h, L)


  • For other abbreviations/acronyms, write out the full words/meaning first, followed by the acronym in brackets, as shown below:


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ...


  • After that point, you can just use the acronym throughout the rest of the paper.


  • If the acronym is being set up within a citation in brackets, use square brackets around the acronym, as shown below:


This was the largest public health crisis that had been seen in years (World Health Organization [WHO], 2017, p. 4).

For more on the proper use of abbreviations, see page 172 (Sections 6.24 - 6.31) of the APA 7th edition manual.


  • 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., the 1960s).
  • Use the percent symbol (%) only with figures (5%) not with written numbers (five percent).

For more on proper formatting of numbers, see page 178 (Sections 6.32 - 6.39) of the APA 7th edition manual.

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