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APA Style: APA Basics

APA Sample Paper

The attached document is a template from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) you can use as a guide when writing your paper.

General APA Guidelines forĀ Formatting Your Paper

  • Spacing: Double-space the entire document.
  • Margins: 1 inch on all sides (top, bottom, left and right) of every page; in the body of the paper.
  • Page Numbers: Top right of each page, 1" from top, 1" from right; title page is page 1. 
  • Indent:  1/2" indent on 1st line of each paragraph in the body of your paper and on each citation in your References list.
  • Justification: Do not justify lines. Use the flush left style and leave the right margin uneven.
  • Manuscript order(Your paper may not include all sections listed below; follow instructions from your professor.) 
    • Title page with running head preceded by "Running head:", title, byline, institutional affiliation, and author note, if applicable; numbered page 1.
    • Abstract. Start on a separate page, numbered page 2.
    • Text. Start on a separate page, numbered page 3.
    • References: Start on a separate page.
    • Footnotes: Start on a separate page.
    • Tables: Start on a separate page.
    • Figures: Start each on a separate page; include caption on page with figure.
    • Appendixes: Start on a separate page.

NOTE: On the title page of the paper, you must type "Running head:" before the running head at the top of the page. On other pages of the paper, the running head "Running head:" should NOT be typed before the running head. The running head should be all caps.


  • Reverse all author names, providing last name and then initials; insert a space between initials. 
    Example:  Smith, J. K.
  • Two to seven authors? Use an ampersand before last author.  
    Example:  Blanford, R., & DeBalzo-Green, H. 
  • Eight or more authors? Provide first six authors' names and initials, insert an ellipsis ( . . . ), and then insert the last author's name.
    Example: Blanford, R., DeBalzo-Green, H., Sheetz, C., Paul, S., Brophy, J., Ceci, V., ... Washburn, K.
  • Author names within a citation do not have to be alphabetized. Leave them in the order listed on the title page.
  • No author? In the reference list, the title is the first element of a citation with no author. (Use the title when alphabetizing your reference list. For more information on formatting a citation for a resource with no author, see the tabs of this LibGuide for specific types of resources.) For an in-text citation, if a reference has no author, use the first few words of the title, enclosed in quotation marks, e.g., ("Research Shows," 2010).

NOTE: Author's names are handled differently in citations than they are within the body of your paper in any in-text citations. If you are citing more than one author in an in-text citation and need help with how to format the names, go to the In-Text Citations tab of this LibGuide.


Capitalize only the first word in book titles and subtitles (with the exception of proper names).

Journals: Volume Number, Issue, Page Numbers

Journals generally have a volume number that changes at the beginning of a new year. So, for example, all issues of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry that were published in 2009 were part of Volume 54, and issues being published in 2010 are part of Volume 55.

In addition, individual issues published during a year (or within a volume) have an issue number that usually begins with Issue 1 in January, Issue 2 in February, and so on.

Page numbering within journals varies. In some journals, each issue starts with page 1. In other journals, the pagination is continuous, so if Issue 1 started on page 1 and ended on page 78, Issue 2 would begin on page 79.

The table below gives you information about which of the above pieces of information are included in a citation. For information about the formatting of this information, refer to the tab in this LibGuide titled Articles (Print) and Articles (Electronic).

Article Information         Included in a citation?
Volume number Always
Issue number Only if each issue begins with page 1.    
Page number range Always

Publication Details

Include the publisher's location, as found on the title page. Place a colon after the place and then insert the publisher's name; do not include additional qualifying words (e.g., "Co.," "Inc.," etc.). Include "Press" or "Books" if used. For more information, see section 6.30 in the APA Guide.

Publication Date

  • Provide year, month, day in the following format:  year, month day. 
    Example:  2001, July 13
  • No day? Provide month, day in the following format:  year, month. 
    Example:  2001, July
  • Season rather than month and day? Provide year and season in the following format:  year, season 
    Example:  2001, Summer
  • No date? Provide "n.d." in parentheses.

Publisher Location

  • Provide the city name and the two-letter U.S. Postal Service abbreviation, separated by a comma.
  • Non-U.S. locations: Provide both the city name and the country name, no abbreviations.


A Uniform Resource Locator, or URL, is the address of a page or document on the Internet. Some URLs are very lengthy and may not fit on a single line of your paper. In such a case, you can break the URL so that it is on two lines. If you need to break a URL, follow these rules:

  • Test the URL to ensure it works and is accurate (leads to the appropriate place) before you break it.
  • Insert the break before punctuation.
  • Do not insert the break at the beginning of the URL ("http://").
  • Do not insert a period at the end of the URL.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

A Digital Object Identifier, or DOI, is a unique, persistent identifier assigned to digital objects like electronic versions of journal articles.

If you are creating a References page for an APA style research paper, you should include the article's DOI if it is provided in the article. The DOI is the last element of a citation, when included; insert the DOI in the format DOI:xxxxxxx.

If no DOI is provided, depending on your professor's preference, provide the URL of the journal homepage OR the name of the database used to access the article.

NOTE: If your professor requires you to locate the DOI, you can use the internet service Crossref to find it.

Order of Entries

  • Entries in the reference list should be arranged alphabetically.
  • Referencing two or more works by the same author? Sort entries by date in ascending order (oldest should appear first).
  • Referencing two or more works by the same author with the same publication date? Sort entries by title.
  • Referencing works by multiple authors, and the first named author is the same in more than one entry? Determine order of entries by the second or next occurring author that is not a match for both works. So, a book by Jones, B., & Marks, A. would come before a book by Jones, B., & Smith, J. in the reference list.