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Writing a college research paper in APA format

Most research papers must be written in the APA format; it’s one of the most commonly accepted styles for college papers. It is most specifically used for education, social sciences and psychology but in general, it is actually used for most University classes. So, where is the best place to start?

Learning the APA style is a very useful skill that a student will benefit from for all the years of post-secondary education as well as careers that will require writing.

The sections of the paper:

  • The Title Page. The required components are a title, running head, school affiliation and author name.
  • The Abstract. This is a brief summary of the paper that follows immediately after the title page. It should be no more than between 150 to 250 words. It can vary a little depending on your instructor’s guidelines or the place where it will be published.
  • Main Body. This part is basically the contents of the essay. If using APA format for a lab report, there would be a further break-down of sections to include introduction, method and results and finally the discussion.
  • Reference List. This is a list of all sources used in the research and writing of your paper. It must be laid out in APA format which can be found in the APA publication manual. This is quite a large and detailed manual but a table of contents makes it easy to find the section you need.
  • Citations in-text. Citations must cite the author’s name and then the date of publication. The remainder of the details would be presented in your reference list.
  • Reference pages must start on a new page. It should be titled References, at the center top, with the title appearing directly under it.
  • Titles of journals, books, newspapers and magazines should be typed in italics.
  • There are numerous online tools to assist the student with the APA format.
  • Every few years a new APA publication style manual is published, with some changes in each new version. Earlier versions required one space after each sentence but the new version now recommends using two spaces.

APA style is fairly easy to learn and follow, and keeping the publication manual nearby for quick reference makes the task a lot simpler. Once you have completed your paper, have someone go over each detail to make sure you have conformed to the APA format before you hand in the paper.

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