APA Basics

This page is based on the 6th edition, second printing, of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association published in August of 2009. Note: The second printing corrects some important mistakes made in the first printing.

What is APA? 

  • APA stands for American Psychological Association.
  • APA style, then, is how this organization thinks about research and how a paper should be prepared for presentation or publication.
  • Many of the social and behavioral sciences use this style to present written information in their publications.

Why should you use APA? 

  • APA allows you to use other people’s ideas to support your own.
  • APA guides you in quoting and paraphrasing source materials to ensure readers can distinguish between your ideas and someone else’s ideas.
  • In other words, APA protects you against plagiarism!

 Types of Papers

The two most common types of APA papers are literature reviews and research papers.

Literature reviews are generally composed of a title page, possibly an abstract, an introduction section (which will be the body of your paper), and the reference page.

Research papers are often composed of the title page, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references. Sometimes appendices or tables/figures may be necessary as well. 

Five Basic Parts of APA Style 

1)      The COVER PAGE includes the running head, title, and identification information. Start numbering pages with the cover page.

2)      The ABSTRACT includes the running head and a summary of your research. It should be one paragraph and touch on the main points of your inquiry only. It should be about 150-250 words.

3)      The TEXT of your paper includes the running head, title, and body.

4)      The REFERENCE PAGE includes a list of sources that you cited within the body of your paper.

5)      The HEADING STRUCTURE for various sections of your project. Check with your professor to see if you’re required to use a heading structure.


**All parts of the paper should be in 12-point Times New Roman with 1-inch margins without justification.