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How to write an essay in APA format

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Essays are widespread and commonly written assignments for students. To make your essays clear, understandable, and easier to read, you must consider common formatting standards. You can write an essay in APA format by following these rules, it will boost your writing performance and provide your papers in strict accordance with the instructions.

What is an APA essay?

This type of essay is usually written in the social sciences. Among the major disciplines that will require papers to follow APA guidelines are psychology, anthropology, and economics. The American Psychological Association has provided the APA formatting official standards for more than 60 years. The APA is in charge of psychological databases and a massive amount of psychological publishing. This article will provide you with some essential rules that will help you to write an essay in APA format.

Outlining an essay in APA format

There are no official rules for outlining an essay in APA format; however, we have to underline the importance of this step. An outline is sometimes considered a superfluous part of an essay, and some students find it unnecessary to write. Nevertheless, this position leads to such consequences as time loss and a lack of structure. The truth is a good outline will be your helper and can save you time. If you provide your outline with some references and drafts, you will complete your essay twice as fast. Your APA essay outline must include such essential parts as an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion.

Consider the type of essay as well when outlining. When it comes to an APA essay type, it can be an expository essay that contains information about a particular issue or a narrative essay that tells about a specific literary work on a current topic explaining the author’s thoughts. It can also be an argumentative essay that provides the author’s views and opinion. 

How to format an APA essay

Here are some universal fundamentals for writing an essay in the APA format:


You can choose some of these fonts for APA essays: 11-point Calibri, 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, 11-point Arial, or 12-point Times New Roman.

Spacing and margins

Double-spacing is commonly used for essays in APA format. The margins on all sides must be 1”.

Paper size

Use the standard size of paper: 8.5” x 11”.


It is appropriate to use commas that are placed before “and” and “or” as well as for series listing three and more items. This type of comma placement is called the Oxford comma.


Place apostrophes after the “s” for plural possessive nouns and before the “s” for singular possessive nouns. 

The essential sections of an APA essay

Pay attention that the format of the title page is correct:

  • Put a page number in the right corner on the top of the page.
  • Write the title of the essay in the middle of the page in bold.
  • Write your name, course name, college name, discipline, teacher’s name, and the date below the title.

Start your essay with an introduction. Typically, an APA introduction must consist of the highlights of your essay, briefly describing the subject. State the topic, and bring up the critical thoughts in this opening part. 

The main body of an APA essay will contain the information related to your essay’s main thesis. Make sure each paragraph is following another making a clear, logical path. A working method is to explain your most vital point in the beginning to draw the attention of the readership. If you bring some arguments, support them with examples. All of your ideas must be based on theoretical sources.

An APA essay conclusion underlines the main thesis and summarizes the essay’s contents. You do not need to include any new data in this section.

APA references and citation rules

The point of citation systemization is to help readers to understand the sources and find them if needed. For authors, this unification is a perfect way to expose their knowledge more effectively.

You need to use sources appropriately when writing an APA essay. According to the American Psychological Association’s guides, there are some vital standards to consider when mentioning data sources. Since 1952, all psychology-related researches must follow a concrete structure of citations. But first, you need to define the type of source for the citation to make the appropriate formatting clear: 

  • Book citations must be listed as follows: author’s name, year of publishing, book title, the name of the publisher. 
  • Music and video source citations must consist of the author’s name, year, and the name of the composition, while for streaming videos, the time and date of publishing. 
  • Journal and article citations must include the following details: author’s name, year of publishing, article’s title, the title of the issue, page range. 
  • Internet resources must include the name of the author, the website’s full address, the publish date of the materials, the title of the source, and its type (for example, a blog post). 

A working hack for citations in APA is using online tools that help create citations for different sources. For example, APA Citation Wizards, Bibme Citation Creator (this tool additionally allows you to download your references in APA or another format), KnightCite, and other such websites. 


Since the American Psychological Association created standards for writing psychological papers, it became easier to systemize documentation and research for scientists and authors. For readership, teachers, and students, unified formatting saves time and makes it clear when writing essays on psychology and other social and behavior-related disciplines. Follow these vital tips for writing an essay in APA format to succeed with your essay writing.

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Shuseel Baral is a web programmer and the founder of InfoTechSite has over 8 years of experience in software development, internet, SEO, blogging and marketing digital products and services is passionate about exceeding your expectations.

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