Apa Handbook For Writing Of Research Papers

A Guide for Writing Research Papers
based on Styles Recommended by
The American Psychological Association

Prepared by the Humanities Department as part of
The Guide to Grammar and Writing
and the Arthur C. Banks Jr. Library
Hartford, Connecticut


Revised: June 2004

This guide is based on recommendations of the fifth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Assocation published by the American Psychological Association (2001). This online publication is by no means a substitute for that book, which is an extensive resource for students engaged in serious research in psychology and the social and behavioral sciences. If online guides like this one — and other summaries of APA style in composition textbooks, etc. — do not suffice, students should purchase the APA Publication Manual for their own use (approximately $27 for the recommended spiral-bound edition) or borrow it from a library. Copies should be available in college and university libraries and in municipal libraries.

Another research guide from Capital Community College, based on the documentation style recommended by the Modern Language Association, is also available online. That guide contains numerous suggestions about getting started on a research paper and a statement on avoiding plagiarism that should prove useful to beginning researchers.

We also recommend the Capital Community College online Library and Information Skills Tutorial as an introduction to using library and online resources. The workbook has chapters on finding books and journal articles, using CD-ROM databases, discovering resources on the internet, developing critical thinking skills, and designing a search strategy. It would be a good idea to go through the Workbook (and take its computer-graded quizzes) before beginning a major research project.

A Sample APA-Style Research Paper, put together by Judy DeLisle, at Valencia Community College in Florida, will show you not only exactly what your paper should look like, but contain suggestions about the writing of the paper. (The text you see there is actually about writing an APA-style paper.

The APA Manual contains a great deal of material on the art of writing itself, which this guide cannot go into. We do recommend, however, Capital's Guide to Grammar and Writing, which provides hundreds of digital handouts about grammar and style, over 170 computer-graded quizzes, guidance on essay writing, and a place to ask questions about grammar and writing.


  1. How do I prepare my MANUSCRIPT and FORMAT my paper? (Franklin, MA)
  2. How do I show various levels of HEADINGS within my paper? (Somerville, MA)
  3. How do I represent FIGURES and TABLES within my document? (Knoxville, TN)
  4. What about the SPACING after periods and commas and dashes? (St. Paul, MN)
  5. How do I format QUOTATIONS, APA-style? (Philadelphia, PA)
  6. I need to make some last-minute CORRECTIONS. Can I make them on the manuscript? (Reading, MA)


In APA style, the sources in a paper are listed alphabetically on a separate page headed References. It follows the final page of the text and is numbered. Entries appear in alphabetical order according to the last name of the author; two or more works by the same author appear in chronological order by date of publication date. When there are two or more books or articles by the same author, repeat the name of the author in each entry.

When using the examples hyperlinked below, it is important to follow the suggested pattern closely, even to the spacing of periods, commas, etc.

  1. What does a reference look like for a SINGLE-AUTHOR BOOK? (West Hartford, CT)
  2. What about a book written by MORE THAN ONE AUTHOR? (Lincoln University, PA)
  3. What if I'm not using a first edition? (Manchester, CT)
  4. How do I list an EDITED VOLUME? (Danby, VT)
  5. What happens if my book has NO AUTHOR OR EDITOR listed? (Whitehead, NH)
  6. I have a SEVERAL-VOLUME WORK here. How do I list that? (Cambridge, MA)
  7. What if I'm using a quote that I discover in a SECONDARY RESOURCE? (Orange, CT)
  8. I've used some important definitions from a reputable DICTIONARY. How should I cite that? (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
  9. I've found some good information in a DOCTORAL DISSERTATION. How would create a reference for that? (Sandusky, OH)
  10. What's the proper format for a Magazine or Periodical? (Colchester, CT)
  11. I've used an article published in a prestigious SCHOLARLY JOURNAL. How would I cite that? (Centreville, Kentucky)
  12. How would I handle a NEWSPAPER ARTICLE ? (Jackson, NJ)
  13. Can you give me some examples of how to handle NON-PRINT MATERIALS? (Philadelphia, PA)
  14. I have important, reliable information from PERSONAL INTERVIEWS and PHONE CONVERSATIONS. How do I document those resources? (East Hartford, CT)
  15. My professor just gave us some great information in a CLASSROOM LECTURE. Can I use that? (Bloomington, IN)
  16. I have several documents from the GOVERNMENT and ERIC to list. What's the proper format? (Buckland Hills, CT)
  17. I have discovered several resources using the INTERNET and CD-ROM RESOURCES. How do I document that material? (Farmington, CT)
  18. I've been asked to create an ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY. How do I go about that? (an America Online user)


Your reader should be able to discover — without undue fuss — the source of any language or ideas you have used in writing your paper that are not your own. This is an important part of being a responsible member of the academic community. When you use the ideas or language of someone else, you can refer your reader easily to that resource by using a documentation technique called parenthetical citation. In parentheses, at the end of the quoted language or borrowed idea, key words and page numbers can refer your reader to your page of References, where he or she can then find out whatever bibliographic information is necessary to track down that resource.

  1. I've heard I can avoid using footnotes and endnotes with something called PARENTHETICAL CITATION. How does that work? (Hartford, CT)

This page is maintained by Professor of English Charles Darling. Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. We regret, however, that we cannot answer questions about documentation issues not addressed in this Guide to Writing Research Papers.

Capital Community College

Most recent revision: June 2004

General Format


APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).

Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2018-02-21 02:26:13

Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.

To see a side-by-side comparison of the three most widely used citation styles, including a chart of all APA citation guidelines, see the Citation Style Chart.

You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel.

General APA Guidelines

Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.

Include a page header  (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. To create a page header/running head, insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.

Major Paper Sections

Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Title Page

The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. Please note that on the title page, your page header/running head should look like this:


Pages after the title page should have a running head that looks like this:


After consulting with publication specialists at the APA, OWL staff learned that the APA 6th edition, first printing sample papers have incorrect examples of running heads on pages after the title page. This link will take you to the APA site where you can find a complete list of all the errors in the APA's 6th edition style guide.

Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends that your title be no more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.

Beneath the title, type the author's name: first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).

Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation, which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.

Image Caption: APA Title Page


Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting, italics, underlining, or quotation marks).

Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced. Your abstract should be between 150 and 250 words.

You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.

Image Caption: APA Abstract Page

Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.

How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA

Individual Resources

Contributors' names and the last edited date can be found in the orange boxes at the top of every page on the OWL.

Contributors' names (Last edited date). Title of resource. Retrieved from http://Web address for OWL resource


Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/


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