APA format guide

An APA Guide for College Writing

Updated By Staff Writer on August 5, 2020

Are you prepared for the first day of college with a solid grasp of college writing in APA format (American Psychological Association)? Here’s a quick-and-dirty APA format writing guide!

General Guidelines: APA Format for Writing College Papers

In general, APA format guidelines for writing a paper include:

  • Standard 8.5” x 11” page size
  • 1” margin on all sides
  • Font choices:
    • Calibri 11-point
    • Arial 11-point
    • Lucida Sans Unicode 10-point
    • Times New Roman 12-point
    • Georgia 11-point
    • Computer Modern 10-point
  • Header on each page, with title/topic on the left, page number on the right

Included Sections

The following sections are included when following the APA Format Writing Guide:

  • Title Page:
    • There should be a running header on the top-left of the page which is where your topic is placed.
    • At the top-center should be your:
      • Title (bolded)
      • Name
      • School
      • Course number and name
      • Instructor name
      • Assignment due date
  • Abstract:
    • This is on your second page and is a 150 to 200-word summary of your paper.
  • References:
    • On a new page, write “References” centered at the top.
    • Cite anything you refer to in your paper.
    • Cite the sources you used for your research.

APA Format for Citations and APA In-Text Citations

When listing sources, use the following APA format for citations:

  • Website Reference: Editor, author, or compiler Last Name, First Initial if available. (Year, Month, Publication Date). Name of site. Name of the institution/organization/sponsor/publisher affiliated with the site. Date of resource creation (if available). Date of access.
  • Book Reference: Last name, First Initial. (Year of publication). Title of book. Place of publication: Publisher.
  • In-Text Citations: Write the author’s last name and the year of publication in parentheses. For example, (Smith, 2019) should be written immediately following the material you are referencing.

Here are a few basic rules for APA citations formatting:

  • Each entry should have a hanging indentation (indent all lines after the first one of each entry).
  • All authors’ names should be written with the last name first and the first and middle names as initials (for example: Anderson, J.A.).
  • Capitalize only the first letter of the first word for articles, webpages, etc.


Now that you know the APA format for writing college papers, you’ll be turning in high-quality reports in no time!

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