How to Write an APA Format Term Paper

by Samantha Smiles   Google

Two most popular formats for term papers in U.S. colleges are the APA (American Psychological Association) and the MLA (Modern Language Association). If you major in social sciences you are most likely to be assigned your term paper in the APA. We will provide you with some guidelines and instructions for writing an APA format term paper.

Before we go over to particular elements mind that the APA requires 12 pt. Times New Roman double-spaced throughout the text.

Title Page

In contrast to the MLA, the APA format term paper implies a separate title page. The title page should include:

  • topic title
  • your name
  • your instructor's name
  • your educational institution
  • the date of submission
  • header with running head and number page

The latter is common for all the pages in your paper. The running head is placed in the left upper corner: it introduces the abbreviated title of the paper. The page number is put in the right upper corner. Use automatic functions of MS Word to put them. All the other elements should be center aligned. Mind that the title page may contain some optional elements such as the individual class number, hence it should always be clarified by your instructor.


Although generally the APA format term paper includes an abstract, some teachers do no require it, so make sure you really need to do it. If so, place the title “Abstract' up in the center of the second page. Then, without any indentation, write a paragraph that describes the key points of your research and its major implications.

In-text citations

Certainly, when you use some external evidence you have to refer to your source properly, otherwise you may be accused of plagiarism. In-text citations contain only the most essential information about these sources, whereas the reference page provides more detailed information.

You may either quote or cite the words of other people. In case of quotation, you should put them in quotation marks without a slightest change. When you cite a source, you should paraphrase the words to provide their essence only. Then you should parenthesize the author's surname and the year of publication. If you refer to a website, it is sufficient to parenthesize the URL.

Reference page

In the MLA this page is called “Works Cited', so don't confuse them. Put the title “References' in the center of the last page and alphabetize all the sources you have used by the surname. If a source doesn't have an author defined, then you can just alphabetize it by the title. Use the hanging indentation, whereby the second line of every source description is indented to the left. No numeration is needed.

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