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APA Style for Dummies

APA style for dummiesUsing specific formatting styles when writing papers sets the mark between a good grade and a bad grade, regardless of the content. And we are here to look at one of the most commonly used writing styles – APA – to prevent students from making mistakes and getting a bad grade. What is APA and how should students use it to write great papers and get the highest scores? APA is a specific formatting style used by college students when citing social science sources in their papers. If you haven’t heard of APA before and you’d like to know more about it, the following APA style for dummies guide should help you out.

What Formatting Should Students Use?

APA papers should be typed on a standard 8.5” x 11” paper size with 1” margins on all sides and double-spaced type (meaning that each row of a text has white space between it that is 2x the height of your letters). Using a clear font such as Times New Roman sized at 12pt is a must. Include a “running head” (or “header”) in your paper. This means writing the name of your paper at the top center of every page. It cannot be longer than 50 characters, otherwise it’s against APA standards and considered too long.

What Style of Writing Should Students Use?

When writing APA papers, it is encouraged to use first person and active voice (“We deducted” instead of “It was deducted”). Be clear and explain your research; don’t use vague words, be specific. Avoid metaphors and analogies; use plain language that anyone can understand when they pick up your paper.

What Sections Should Students Include When Using APA?

Students should have the title page, the abstract, the main body and references. These are the main parts that are essential to produce a fully-featured completed paper.

How Should the Title Page Look Like?

Title page should have a header on the top left. The title, author’s name and affiliation should be in the 1/3 of the page height. The title should be less than 12 words long and in one or two lines. Below that is the author’s name: name, middle name, last name, no titles. Below the author’s name is the institutional affiliation, or the place where the research took place.

What Is the Structure of the Abstract?

The abstract exists to show key points of the research paper without going through it. The word “Abstract” should be centered below the header, as the title of the page. The abstract should be 150-250 words long and contain your research topic, questions you ask, methods, results and conclusion. You can also add keywords to the abstract by adding “Keywords” in italics after the abstract paragraph and typing all the keywords you’d like your paper to be recognized by.

Should the Main Body Look Like the Previous Sections?

Following the same guidelines as the first two sections of APA papers – students must use the same font and size with double-spaced type and running heads on each page.

How Should the Headings Look Like?

Headings in main body of an APA style paper are divided into five levels; depending on how many subheadings you have in your text.

  • Level 1: Centered, Bold type.
  • Level 2: Left-aligned, Bold type.
  • Level 3: Indented, Bold type, with period at the end.
  • Level 4: Indented, Bold type, Italic, with period at the end.
  • Level 5: Indented, Italic, lower case with period at the end.

We hope that these guidelines create the right image of the APA citation style and will be very useful for you while writing academic papers. The main trick here is to be attentive and not to miss details, the rest is easy. So, be focused and write excellent papers!

And if you still have troubles, try our Free Citation Generator! It will speed up formatting of your essays!

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