How To Write Your College Essay In APA Format

What is an APA formatted essay?

An APA essay is a brief paper that is written to correspond to the style guidelines of the American Psychological Association. The APA publishes an annual handbook of style, detailing how a psychological paper (or other social science paper) should be laid out, what kind of language should be used, how citations should be presented, and how the margins and headings should appear.

APA essays are frequently assigned in psychology classes at the undergraduate level, as well as communications classes, sociology and political science courses, and other studies in the humanities. The APA format is incredibly popular and common, and most student writers will be expected to be familiar with it. The APA guidelines can be applied to either long, professional research articles, or short works turned in for class.

How Do You Write in APA Format?

If you are assigned an APA formatted essay in class, it is vitally important that you get a copy of the APA’s latest style handbook. You should write your prose basically the way you would for any other course essay, but organize the document and its layout according to the APA’s rigid and highly specific standards.

But just what are those standards, and how does one go about meeting them? Follow the steps below to help bring your paper up to proper APA level.

  1. Purchase or borrow the present year’s copy of the APA manual of style, or locate an online handbook that is up to date.

  2. Paste your essay in a new word document with all formatting preferences removed.

  3. Set your document to be double spaced, with no extra space between paragraphs. Insert one-inch margins on all sides, and insert page numbers in the top right corners of every page except for title pages.

  4. Follow the APA”s strict, particular heading hierarchy. Your first header should be bolded and centered, will all words capitalized. Your next header level should be set to the left, bolded, and capitalized, and so on.

  5. When citing references, use a parenthetical citation scheme that includes at least the first two author’s last names, followed by a comma and the year of publication.

  6. For every reference you cite in your main text, have a corresponding entry in the reference list section.

  7. Reference list items should feature a hanging indent, with the name of the publication italicized and double spacing between entires, yet single spacing within entries.

  8. Make sure the language you use in your paper is appropriate according to APA standards.