APA Style Guide

This is a quick summary of the American Psychiatric Association’s style guide, which is used in the social sciences at many universities.


  • 1″ margins
  • new page for each section
  • sections start on a new page
  • page 1 – title page
  • page 2 – abstract
  • page 3 – body
  • references, tables, figures, and each appendix are each in their own section (in that order)
  • section titles – title case, same font as body, non-bold, non-italic, centered, no period at end
  • first section is not named Introduction; it is the title of the document instead
  • Section Titles are not the same as Headings


  • 12 point Times New Roman font
  • double-spaced
  • indent each paragraph ½”
  • left-justified (i.e., ragged right edge)

Title Page

  • centered in top half of the page
  • title first, in title case (on the first line)
  • author second (on the second line)
  • name of university third (on the third line)


  • one paragraph, no indentation
  • 150-250 words
  • research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions

Running Header

  • document title flush left, page number flush right, all caps
  • document title not to exceed 50 characters, abbreviations allowed
  • included on all pages, even the title page
  • on title page, prepend the title in the running header with “Running head: “.


  • 12 point Arial font
  • Level 1: centered, bold, title case, line break at end
  • Level 2: flush left, bold, title case, line break at end
  • Level 3: indented, bold, sentence case, period at end, no line break at end
  • Level 4: indented, bold, italics, sentence case, period at end, no line break at end
  • Level 5: indented, italics, sentence case, period at end, no line break at end
  • Level 6+: not permitted

Reference Section

  • in a separate section immediately following the body
  • double-spaced, same font as body, no extra line between references
  • sort by first author’s surname
  • do not list personal communication or classical works

Each Reference

  • exdented ½”
  • three parts: author/year, title, publication data
  • the three parts are terminated by periods


  • authors listed in the order shown in the publication
  • all authors listed as surname + comma + given names
  • if listing editors, append “Ed.” or “Eds.” after the name(s)


  • year is in parentheses after the authors’ names, one space separator between author(s) and year
  • If there are multiple works by the same author(s) in the same year, append “a”, “b”, “c”, etc. to distinguish them


  • sentence case
  • if part of a larger work (e.g., chapter in book, article in journal), do not italicize
  • if a standalone work, italicize the title

Publication Data

Publication Data – Books

  • pubdata is city + colon + publisher’s name

Publication Data – Chapters in Books

  • pubdata is the title of the book
  • italics
  • prepend the word “In”
  • “In” + editor’s names + “(Eds.),” + book title + page numbers in parentheses

Publication Data – Articles in Journals

  • the pubdata is the title of the journal
  • journal title and volume number in italics
  • issue number in parentheses after volume number, no space separator, no italics
  • page range after issue number, separated by comma, no italics
  • “pp.”, “vol.”, and “num” not used
  • title case for the journal’s title

Publication Data – Conference Proceedings

Publication Data – Web Pages

  • same as above
  • followed by “Retrieved from” + URL (no period at end)

Publication Data -DOI

  • same as above
  • followed by “doi:” + DOI (no period at end)

Citations (in general)

  • surname and year are both required
  • must refer to an entry in the reference list
  • if author/year combination is ambiguous, append a, b, c, etc.
  • separate names with commas
  • if two authors:  name1 + space + ampersand + name2
  • If more than two authors, comma + space + ampersand between 2nd last and last surname
  • if more than 5 authors, specify first author’s surname + “et al.”  There is no comma after the author.
  • subsequent citations use “et al.” if there are more than 2 authors.  There is no comma after the author.
  • multiple citations: separate with semi-colons if different authors. If it’s the same author, do not repeat the author’s name, but separate the years with commas

Citations (signal phrases)

Citations (in parentheses)

  • (author + comma + space + year)
  • year is not in parentheses

Citations (not in parentheses)

  • author (year)
  • separate author from opening parenthesis with a space

Citations (for paraphrases, comments, and summaries)

  • page number is not required, but is acceptable

Citations (for quotations)



  • all quotations require a citation
  • citations for quote include page numbers prepended by “p.” or “pp.”
  • author, year and page number are separated by commas if in parens
  • if quote is 40+ words: no quotation marks; +½” margins; do not indent the first paragraph, but indent all subsequent paragraphs; citation is the last thing in the last paragraph
  • summary or paraphrase: no quotation marks; followed by citation; paragraph numbers recommended, but not required

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