APA Essay Format: The Basics

When your teacher assigns you with a paper that has to be written in APA essay format but you have used to write papers in, for example, MLA style, the task may be challenging for you. Prior to start writing the paper, it is better to learn the basics of the required format.

Below you may find really effective tips and guidelines that will assist you with proper paper formatting.

Peculiarities of the APA Essay Format

If your class is related to psychology, be it a graduate level or simply introductory one, you will definitely have to write at least a few papers during the semester or the course. Most of the times, you will be required to use APA formatting style. It is the publication format of the American Psychological Association.

APA essay format is applied in various disciplines related to such sciences as psychology. When you learn the format basics, you will see that it helps to structure paper using the needed margins, spacing and the way paper content is organized. 

We recommend you to pay special attention to the instructions and guidelines provided by the instructors and publication editors. Strict adhering to APA style helps potential readers to understand what can be expected from the content provided in the paper. In addition, it will guarantee that your paper will be downgraded due to formatting mistakes.  

APA Format Basics

Please note that our guide provides only basic knowledge to APA essay format. It means that you should consult with your instructor for more detailed requirements.

  • Use same margins of at least 2,54 cm on all for sides (top, left, right and bottom). 
  • Use double spacing unless single spacing is required by a teacher. 
  • Put page numbers on each page in the upper right corner. 
  • When you need to write a professional essay, provide a running head at the upper left on every page. Running head refers to a brief paper title. Usually it is a few words and please do not exceed more than fifty characters (spaces are also included in this number).
  • Title page in your paper should be formatted in accordance with APA style requirements as well. It is important to provide paper title, student’s name, and institution. In some cases, the instructor may ask to provide addition information like course name, teacher’s name and due date. 
  • It is crucial to make paper title as short as possible and at the same time mange to inform the reader what the essay is about.
  • It is allowed to extend the title up to two lines but try not to exceed 12 words.
  • Include a list of sources in the end of the paper. Here you have to provide all the references you have used in your paper. List the sources in alphabetic order and orient on the author’s last name. use double spacing for the reference list as well. 
  • Indent the first word in each paragraph using one-half inch.
  • It is recommended by the American Psychological Association to use Times New Roman size 12 font.
  • Most likely you will be required to provide title page, abstract, intro, main body, logical conclusion and the list of references in your essay. However, this requirement may vary depending on teacher’s specific instructions.

Recommendations on Writing a Paper in APA format

There are a lot of ways to make the formatting easier. Remember to properly cite all the sources and provide content of your essay in accordance to APA format. 

Select an interesting topic for your paper. Make sure the topic is specific so that you could easily research it and cover it to its fullest. However, it should not be too specific since you may face challenges with finding the needed information. On the contrary, when the topic is too general, you will find too much information and will be confused with what to choose. So, stay in the middle and make sure the topic is neither too specific nor to general. 

Do not postpone the research work and start it as soon as possible. Find the basic books, and journals related to the topic. Then make a list of useful sources. 

Track the number of sources you use while writing the paper.

Every source you use in the paper should be listed in the reference list and vice versa  

After finishing a draft of your paper, it is a high time to prepare the final version of the paper. You need to make sure that the content is logical, cohesive, properly structured and cited. In addition, check the essay for any typos, grammatical and spelling mistakes. Pay close attention to format.

Essay in APA Format Sample


Although the modern world seems to be incredibly diverse, it consists of objects made of different geometry shapes. Notably, triangles might often be observed in many objects, including aircraft and sailboat, and there are reasons for that. In fact, there are different types of triangles, and the main ones are the right, the acute, and the obtuse. People use this geometry shape in constructions and machine because it is able to provide a significant strength because each of three sides supports each other and prevent the whole triangle from collapsing. 

A Bermuda rig, the typical triangle-shaped mainsail for most of the modern sailboats has a number of advantages over other types of mainsail types. Particularly, the shape allows higher speed at moving upwind, the better reaching of the wind, heaving to, and easy reefing. Therefore, due to the construction of the mainsail that consists of its head attached to the top of the mast, its luff attached to the pole over its all length, and its bottom corner connected to the far end of a boom, the triangular shape is far more beneficial than other forms. Besides, triangular main sales have a higher aspect ratio than other forms, which means that they are more efficient. These are the main reasons why constructors have been using this geometry shape since the seventeenth century.

Just like in the case of sailboats, triangular shapes are often used in the construction of the aircraft. This form accounts for an increased strength of the whole machine, while the innovative delta-like wing allows filling the plane with larger volumes of fuel. One of the new ways of using triangles in the industry is constructing airplanes with the modern shape of the wing. The shape will also have a higher aspect ratio, which will make the whole machine more efficient and provide it with better flying characteristics.


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