APA Format Reference and Style Paper

A lot of students and especially those in tertiary level education will at one time be required to present an assignment using the APA format reference and style paper. Thus it is imperative for a student to understand this writing style. The APA writing format was birthed in 1929 with the intention of creating a standard way of documenting and presenting academic material. This writing style is primarily used for social and behavioral sciences such as sociology and psychology respectively. The APA reference format is simplified compared to that of other writing styles. For this reason, it has become very popular among scholars.

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While the APA style paper format may appear complex for beginners, it gets easier as you familiarize yourself with the style. It is important to keep practicing and not give up as this is know you get to master the skill. This format does not vary much whether you are writing an essay or a research paper; among the guidelines that do not change are those provided for references and in-text citations. Nonetheless, it is important to pay close attention to the specifications given by your instructor and to apply them when tackling an assignment.

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The APA reference format and style paper guidelines are clearly stipulated in the publication manual. This manual contains a history of the guidelines, the basic rules and reference formats. Since its conception, the manual has been modified maintain professionalism and keep up with changing times. For example, unlike earlier editions, the basic rules now include sections indicating how to avoid pejorative language and the reference formats give direction on how to cite online material. On the general format this style recommends:

  • Times New Roman with a font of 12
  • Double spacing for sentences
  • One inch margin on both sides, at the top and bottom of each page
  • The size of the paper used should be eight and a half by eleven inches
  • The color of the paper used should be plain white
  • All pages should be numbered at the top right side
  • A page header known as the “running head” which is borrowed from the title and should be justified to the left and in upper case.

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The information presented in a research paper written in APA format is more often than not empirical in nature. Therefore, guidelines have been set on how charts, graphs, and other statistics are presented. When using this style makes sure you do not use labels or have biases in your writing. Moreover, avoid unnecessary wording in the text to ensure your work is brief and to the point. This helps in regulating the length of the paper at the same keeping a professional tone. A tip to help achieve this is to also know your target audience before writing and use a language they would easily comprehend.

When writing a research paper in the APA format always include four major parts; the title page, abstract, body and references.

  • Title page

The title page should always be on a separate page, usually the first one of your work. It contains the topic being researched, the name of the author and the institution where the research was carried out. When using APA, the title should not have more than 12 words. Additionally, avoid having words that add no meaning to the title and using abbreviations. The title used on this page is used as the running head throughout the article. In instances where the title provided is long, you can capture the main words and create a shorter version to use in your header.

  • Abstract

This comes right after the title page and also appears on a different page. It is a detailed summary of the research paper with between 150-250 words. The abstract is written in continuous prose expounding on the title, methods used, findings and recommendations. From your abstract, a reader should be in a position to understand what your research paper is about. This single paragraph is never indented although you can include keywords of your research paper at the end of this page. They should be indicated in italics. These words make it easier to locate your work online. If the task is to write an essay, the abstract can be excluded.

  • Body

This is the back bone of a research paper and takes up the larger portion. It includes an introduction, the main discussion and a conclusion. The introduction sheds light as to why it is important to research the given topic. The body explains the methods you used, your findings and their interpretations as well as challenges. Using the APA reference format, you can include in text citations in the body. The conclusion provides the writer with an opportunity to close the discussion. Since the APA format is primarily used in the science discipline, you should refrain from using subjective statements.

  • References

When writing a research paper, you are expected to acknowledge when you use another person’s work. Failure to do so is known as plagiarism. References are usually found in the final segment of a research paper. It has to begin on a new page with a centered title “References”. The reference list should contain all the work cited in you research paper. The Nothing should be on your reference list if you did not use it in your article. The APA reference format page has a unique presentation which sets it apart from other writing styles.



Over the years, the APA format reference and style paper has been revised. It is likely that this trend will continue. While this article creates understanding of the writing style, it is important to keep abreast with all the adjustments made in future. At the same time, work towards perfecting your understanding of the current publication as it eases academic writing for you. Keen attention should be given to how you cite your sources to avoid duplicating other people’s work.

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