The easiest way to create perfectly formatted APA papers is to use PERRLA for Word and PERRLA Online. That's all there is to it. But if you want to know what all goes into an APA Research Paper, here it goes.
The Parts of a APA Research Paper
There are three major parts to any APA Research Paper: the Title Page, the Body, and the Reference Page.
There can be other optional parts as well: Abstract, Table of Contents, and Appendices. We won't cover those here though.
In addition to these three parts, there are a few basic "over-arching" rules that are universal for the entire paper.
1. All margins should be 1 inch.
A margin is the amount of space between the edge of the paper and where the text starts. Luckily, this is the default for Microsoft Word, so you shouldn't have to worry about it too much.
2. Font, Font-size, and Spacing
According to the APA 6th Edition Manual Section 8.03, APA's preferred standard font is Times New Roman at 12 points. A serif-ed font (one with the lines at the ends of the letters) are better for reading. PERRLA uses Times New Roman throughout its papers because of this reason.
Lines in the paper's body should be double-spaced with a first-line indent of .5 inches. Indentation is not used in figures, tables, and captions.
3. There should be a Running Head on each page.
This is confusing because APA requires the Running Head to be different on the first page from all of the following pages. On every page, the Running Head should be in all capital letters and no longer than 50 characters, including spaces. However, on the first page, the Running Head should be preceded with: "RUNNING HEAD:". On subsequent pages, "RUNNING HEAD:" is left off.
4. Number the pages starting on the first page.
Each page of the paper should be numbered from the very first page (almost always a Title Page). The numbers should not be inserted manually and should not include any identifying information such as your name; just the number.
The Title page is the first page of your Paper and has the identifying information for the paper. It's also the page where you see the full Running Head as described above.
The Title page must include three pieces of information (and any optional information your professor asks for).
- Paper's Title
- Author Byline (your name)
- Publishing Institution (your school)
This information should be center-aligned and appear in the top half of the page. Include any of the optional information your professor requests beneath these (class, date, professor name, etc.).
The Papers' body is the second major part of an APA Research Paper. However, if you add an Abstract or Table of Contents, they would come between the Title Page and the Paper's Body.
In addition to following all of the universal APA rules, the body starts with the Title of the Paper, centered, at the top of the page.
On the next line, start the body of your paper with the proper font, size, indentation, and spacing.
The body of the paper is where you make your argument and lay out your ideas. This is where you will include any research you have done - citing it whenever appropriate. Luckily, PERRLA handles all the formatting for Citations and References (along with all this other stuff).
You can also include Tables, Figures, and other information in your Paper's body to support your arguments.
The Reference page is the last required APA Research Paper section. It can be optionally followed by any Appendices.
The Reference page always starts with "References", centered on the first line of the page.
It is then followed by a list of the References that you cited in your paper. If you researched a Reference but didn't use it in your paper, it shouldn't be listed on the References page.
References should be listed in alphabetical order from A to Z. Any References starting with numbers instead of letters should be alphabetized as though they were spelled out.
References should also have a hanging indent. You can think of this as the opposite to the Paper's Body indentation. Instead of indenting the first line of a paragraph (Reference), you will leave the first line alone and indent every following line after it. So it looks like the first line is hanging over the rest of the paragraph.
And that's it! (except for the 300 pages of Reference and Citation formatting in the APA Manual...)
So - even with all this helpful stuff, don't sweat APA and let PERRLA handle it all for you!