How to Write a Research Paper in APA Format (Template Included)


How to Write a Research Paper in APA Format (Template Included)

The APA writing style is a highly adopted writing format for students, researchers, editors, and educators worldwide. It is used in a wide range of study fields, including nursing, behavioral sciences, education, business, engineering, social sciences, and so much more. A student’s success in academic writing also depends highly on knowing how to format a paper in the different styles required. This guide will take you through how you can write an APA research paper from start to finish. The guide is based on the latest APA 7th Edition.

What is APA?

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. It is an academic writing style for journals, books, and research papers. It is most widely used in social sciences like psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and social sciences such as sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, Archeology, and linguistics. We have used the official 7th edition APA handbook to gather information for this guide.

APA Research Paper Format

General APA Paper Guidelines

Paper Size – The paper should be typed on a standard-sized paper (8.5” x 11”) having 1” margins all around.

Font – The font used should be easily legible and consistent throughout the paper. Some of the recommended fonts include Times New Romans – 12-point, Sans serif – 11 point, Calibri – 11 point, Arial and Lucida Sans.

APA Page Header

The paper should have a running head or a page header. The header contains the page numbers only (flush right) for a student paper. For a professional paper, the page header contains the page numbers and the paper’s title in all caps (flush left). The title included in the page header summarizes the paper’s full title and cannot exceed 50 characters. In some cases, the tutor might specifically request that the student page header have the title included. However, suppose you are just asked to write using the 7th edition APA format. In that case, the title is not required even though it was included in the 6th edition.

Major Sections of the APA Research Paper

The Title Page

In the APA 7th edition handbook, there is a slight difference between how to format the title page for a professional paper and a student paper. The professional paper’s title page includes the running head with a title and has the author notes. For the student paper, the title page has the page header without a title, and author notes are not included in the paper.

Here is a visual representation of how the title page should be formatted in an APA research paper for both students and professionals.

The Abstract Page

The Abstract should be on a new page. The 7th edition recommends that you center and bold the word abstract. Do not underline, italicize, or use quotation marks.

On the next line, write the concise summary of your paper in a short paragraph of about 200 to 250 words. Do not indent.

You can also include the keywords from your paper in the abstract. To add keywords, indent the beginning of the paragraph and type the word Keywords: italicized. Then list the keywords separated by a comma. Keywords make it easy to find your work in a database.

See the sample abstract page of an apa research paper.

The Main Body

The main body is where sections such as the introduction, literature review, methodology, findings, discussions, and recommendations go to in the APA research paper. In this section, five levels of headings are allowed in APA. The main body section starts on a new page after the abstract. Write the title of the paper, centered, in title case, and bolded. Immediately after the title is the introduction section. The “Introduction” header is not included because it is assumed what falls directly after the title is the introduction.

The literature review, methodology, results, and discussion section use the level one headings. Level one headings are in title case, centered, and bolded. For level two headings, have them left-aligned, bolded, and in title case. Level three headings should be flush left, italicized, and bolded. End the heading with a period. Level four and level five headings though not common should be indented like the paragraphs are indented and italicized. The level four heading is bolded while level five is not.

Here is the sample apa research paper body showing the different levels of the headings and how to format them.

References Page

The references page starts on a new page. The header “References” is included at the top of the page, centered and bolded to identify this page. All the text on the references page should also be double spaced, just like in the rest of the paper.

The references list is included to provide a list of all the sources that have been cited in the paper. Every source that has been cited in the paper must also be included in the references list.

The reference list should have hanging indentations. Hanging indentations mean that each line after the first line of every source listed should be indented a half-inch from the left margin.

Tables and Figures

Sometimes it is necessary to add tables and figures when writing an APA research paper. Tables and figures make detailed information easier to digest for the reader. Any table or figure added to the paper must be important. For instance, if you have to present many numbers, you can use a graph or chart to quickly present the numbers and show relationships between them to the reader.

The graphics used should supplement what you have put in the text. Tables and figures can be added at the end of the paper after the references or included inside the paper after being mentioned in the text. However, when adding graphics to the paper, take care because too many can become a distraction.

Briefly indicate in the text what the reader should look for in the tables and figures. 


Each table added should have;

Table Number – the tables should be numbered in the order in which they have been used in the text. The first table used in the text should be labeled ‘Table 1’ in the tables and figures section. If you have included an appendix, use a combination of capital letters and roman numerals to label the tables in order, e.g., Table A1, Table B2, etc.

Title – just like the title for the paper, each table should have a title. The titles should be italicized and written in title case. The title goes one line below the table number.

Headings – Headings are used for labeling the rows and columns indicating what is in the table. Headings should be kept short, and if not, abbreviations can be used.

Body – this is the actual table where the data is presented. Data is organized in rows and columns with the entries aligned center to make them easier to read. Consistency should be maintained when presenting the data.

 Notes – the notes are placed below the table. There can either be general, specific probability notes added to the table.


Figures have the number, title, image, legends, and notes. Legends are keys used to explain symbols, colors, patterns, or shades used in the figure. Legends are usually in title case and are placed under the image.

Students also like to include photographs in their papers. Photos are readily available online and can be a good resource where it is easier to show than describe using words. When a photograph is used, it should follow the guidelines given for the tables and figures. It is also recommended that photos be in black and white because color resolution changes from one screen to the next. However, when in black and white, all readers on different screens and devices will see the same photo.

Still Having Trouble Writing an APA Research Paper?

At, we have a team of expert research paper writers that can help you with your research paper. We can help you to come up with a quality apa research paper. Suppose you have already researched and written the paper. In that case, you will find our research paper editing and formatting services really useful. We can help you adhere to the apa style and edition required for your paper.



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