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APA Tutorial: 1. Setting Up Your Paper in APA Format

Learn how to cite your sources in APA Style (7th edition).

1. Setting Up Your Paper in APA Format (See also chapter 2 in the APA Manual, "Paper Elements & Format")

To set up a student paper in APA format: 

  • Set page margins to one inch on all sides.
  • Left-align the body of your paper ("flush left"). 
  • Insert a page number on the top-right corner of every page using the page number function in Microsoft Word. 
  • Choose from one of the following six fonts (and use it throughout your paper):
    • 12 pt. Times New Roman, 11 pt. Georgia, 11 pt. Calibri, 11 pt. Arial, 10 pt. Lucida Sans Unicode, or 10 pt. Computer Modern
  • Double-space throughout your paper.
    • Do not add extra spaces before/after headings or between paragraphs. 
    • Do insert an extra blank line between the title and your name on the title page
    • Do insert an extra blank line between a paragraph and an embedded table/figure.
  • Indent the first line of all paragraphs 1/2 inch (one tabbed space).
  • Insert one space after all punctuation in your paper.
  • Student papers do not include a running head, author note, or abstract (unless your instructor requires one). 

American Psychological Association. (2020). Paper format.



Watch this brief video get an overview of APA paper formatting guidelines:

UCF Libraries. (2020, January). APA 7th edition part 1: Basic formatting [Video]. Vimeo.

Used with permission.

How to set up your APA Title Page: 

  • Insert page number "1" in the top right-hand corner using the page number function in Word
  • Hit enter 3-4 times from the top of the page
  • All of the title page information below is centered and double-spaced:
    • Title of Paper (bolded, written in title case)
    • Add an extra space after the title
    • Student's full name 
    • Department of ____, Bay State College 
    • Course Number: Course Name 
    • Instructor's title and full name 
    • Assignment due date (Month Day, Year)

American Psychological Association. (2020). Title Page Setup.


Here's a visual of the APA title page set-up: 



This is how you order the pages of an APA paper: 

  • Title page
  • Abstract (only if required by your professor)
  • Text of your paper
  • References
  • Footnotes (uncommon in student papers)
  • Tables (each table on its own page OR you can embed in body of paper)
  • Figures (each figure on its own page OR you can embed in body of paper)
  • Appendices (uncommon in student papers)

American Psychological Association. (2020). Order of Pages.

Using headings in APA papers

Headings help keep long APA papers organized. Ask your professor if headings are necessary, especially if you are writing a short paper.  Regardless of whether or not you have to use headings, the text of your paper will begin with your paper's title in the level one position. 


The basic rules for APA headings

  • Headings should not be lettered or numbered.
  • Headings should succinctly describe that section's contents. 
  • Headings should be written in title case (capitalize the first word and all words longer than four words). 
  • Do not add extra blank lines above or below headings.
  • Start each new section with a level 1 heading. 
  • Do not use the word "Introduction" as a heading. The title of your paper acts as the first heading, at level 1.
    • If your introduction is longer than a paragraph, you can add additional headings, starting with level 2. 
  • Most students will not need to use more than three levels of headings. 


How to format headings in APA

Heading Level  Heading Formatting

 Centered, Bold, Title Case Heading

Text begins as a new paragraph. 


Flush Left, Bold, Title Case Heading

Text begins as a new paragraph.  


Flush Left, Bold, Italic, Title Case Heading

Text begins as a new paragraph. 


Indented, Bold, Title Case Heading, Ends With a Period. Text begins on the same line and then continues into a regular paragraph.


Indented, Bold, Italic, Title Case Heading, Ends With a Period. Text begins on the same line and then continues into a regular paragraph.


American Psychological Association. (2020). Headings.