APA Referecing Guide

If you are required to write an APA style assignment but never did it before, read our guide and follow our instructions carefully. This is an official format created by the American Psychological Association that is mostly used for research and scientific papers, particularly in mathematics, psychology, business, economics, sociology, criminal justice, and nursing. If you are wondering how to write an APA research paper, in this article, we will provide you with basic rules about this formatting style.

When you just started your work, the  APA referencing formatted paper may seem very confusing, stressful and daunting. But don't try to make everything in the same moment, plan your time and separate your assignments into parts. Write each part by the requirements and then merge everything into one document. Remember that you need to read all requirements very attentively, only then you will understand them. Better to print them out and keep before your eyes so that you won't miss anything.

General Rules

Here are some standard rules for this format to remember:

  • Paper size – 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Margins – 1 inch on all sides
  • Font – 12-point, Times New Roman (but you may use other similar fonts)
  • The title, the author's name, the school – double-spaced and placed in the center of the page
  • All pages should have a number in the top right
  • All pages should have a header placed on the top left


Your work structure could be varied depending on what kind of work you are writing, for example, a case study or a research paper would be a bit different compared to a lab report. But in general, your work should have these sections:

The title page. Keep in mind that this page makes an impression on readers. That's why you have to make it well-formatted with APA referencing. This page must include these parts:

  • A heading of your work – make it understandable, but don't exceed 12 words
  • The name of the author - write your full name. Please don't use any abbreviations here
  • School (college or university) – if you were not affiliated with any academic institution, APA format recommends listing your state and city
  • A running head – should be written on all pages of your paper. Keep in your memory that this element shouldn't be longer than 50 characters
  • Page number – should be written on all pages of your work

Abstract. This is a short summary of your assignment, its length should be 150-250 words. The primary goal of this part is to introduce your paper to readers, and they will be able to realize what your work is about. Keep in mind that people will decide if they want to read the whole paper just after reading the abstract. That's why you should spend enough time to create a successful second page of your work. In your abstract, you may add a list of your keywords.

These keywords will be helpful when people search for your work in a database. That's why you should think about every word before writing it down; when writing keywords, just put yourself in readers' shoes and brainstorm which words they would use to find your paper

APA Referencing: the basics from Victoria University Library on Vimeo.

Introduction. This section should present your work's background, depending on what kind of paper you're writing

Main part. This section's structure can be varied depending on what kind of work you are creating. For example, an APA referencing for the research paper will have such parts as methods and materials, results and discussion, and also tablets and graphs. Depending on what kind of paper you are working on, check the main requirements of the certain document's structure

References. Here you have to write a list of all the references that were used in writing your work. Begin this part on a new page, type the word “References” on the top center. Here are some requirements for this section:

  • Double-space all your references
  • Write your references in an alphabetical order
  • Titles of journals, books, newspapers, and magazines should be written in italics
  • Major words in books and journals titles have to be capitalized, but if you want to mention an article, only the first letter has to be capitalized

Examples of Punctuation for Titles in APA Style

Here we are going to give you some examples of correct punctuation for various titles using APA format:

Rules to apply to short titles

  • Use quotation marks to emphasize a poem's title
  • Example: “She Walks in Beauty”
  • You need to use quotation marks for the title of a commercial, a song, or a movie
  • Example: “One wish,” “Fading Like a Flower.”
  • If you are going to write a title of blog or unpublished paper, it also should be written with quotation marks
  • Example: “Meet My Great Car”
  • If you are required to write an essay in APA style or even in Chicago referencing style, you have to use quotation marks with titles for short works
  • Example: “The Paradox of Behavior Change”

Punctuation for long titles

  • Titles of novels and long poems should be italicized
  • Example: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • You have to use italics for titles of magazines, encyclopedias, and newspapers
  • Example: Medical Encyclopedia, The Times
  • If you need to cite a title of play, TV series, or a movie, it has to be also italicized
  • Example: King Lear is a great play by Shakespeare
  • If you're using titles of art pieces, these elements have to be italicized
  • Example: Irises is one of the paintings by Vincent van Gogh

Rules of capitalizing.

  • According to the APA style, the first word of the title must be capitalized
  • Example: “Night walking” by Matthew Beaumont brings you to the London's life
  • APA format does not require capitalizing articles and prepositions in the title
  • Example: “The Sea and Civilization” is a great history book written by Lincoln Paine
  • You need to capitalize names of people and historic places and events in titles
  • Example: Robert Tombs provided us with a history of England in his book “The English and Their History.”

We hope that after reading this article, you clearly understand all the APA referencing style. We have gathered important rules of writing a successful assignment with us in APA style, including the structure, punctuation and general rules. If you still need help, ask our essay service to do that for you.

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