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Online Writing Lab


The American Psychological Association (APA) format is preferred for papers written in the social sciences. This style is used frequently in psychology, sociology, criminology, economics, business and nursing classes, in addition to others.
APA style refers to two different things.

  1. The general format for how the paper should appear (see below and the "APA Example").
  2. The correct way for citing sources both within the paper and on a references page.  For more information on citations, view "Citing Sources" or visit the Learning Commons, located in the Aims College Center.

Essays written in the APA format should follow these four characteristics.

  1. All margins of the document should be set to 1 inch, both sides and top and bottom.
  2. All lines within the essay should be double-spaced, including lines separating different paragraphs (make sure not to add an extra space between paragraphs).
  3. Font size should be 12 point, and needs to be a recognizable and readable style (When in doubt, use Times New Roman, which is generally the most accepted type of font.
  4. Include a page header at the top of every page. To create a page header, insert page numbers flush right. Then type an abbreviated version of the title in the header flush left.

All essays written in APA format should include four major sections: the title page, the abstract, the main body and references. For more information on these sections and to see what they should look like, view the APA Example. Other APA example papers can be viewed at

All sources need to be cited within the text and on a reference page, which should be the last page of the essay. In-text citations need to include the author's last name, if available, and the year that the information was first published. If the cited source does not list an author name, the title of the source should be used instead.  All other information, such as publisher, date, location, etc., should appear on the references page.

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