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APA 7th edition: Formatting Your Paper

APA 7th edition

On this page

  1. The Overall Paper
  2. Title Page - Student Paper
  3. Title Page - Professional Paper
  4. Abstract
  5. Headings
  6. Quotations
  7. Reference Page - Formatting
  8. Tables and Figures
  9. Appendices
  10. Additional Resources
  11. Feedback Survey

Note: not all assignments require all the sections below. Speak with your instructor if you are unsure what sections to include.

Contact

Have questions about APA formatting? 

Contact the JIBC Writing Centre: 

Emailwritingcentre@jibc.ca 

WebsiteWriting Centre Website

The Overall Paper

Margins:
  • 1 inch (2.54cm) on all sides, include top, bottom, and left and right sides. Example of line spacing for overall paper format.
Page Header & Number: 
  • Include a page number in top right corner of all pages, including: title page, reference pages, and appendix pages.
    • Page number should be the same font as the rest of the paper.
  • Running head:
    • Student Style: No running head
    • Professional Style: Include a running head 
Font: 
  • Acceptable fonts include: 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, 11-point Arial, 11-point Calibri, 11-point Georgia, and 12-point Times New Roman.
  • Use the same font throughout the paper.
  • Check with your instructor if they have a specific font requirement.
Line Spacing:
  • The entire paper, including the title page, references pages, and block quotations, should be double-spaced. To double-space your paper, set the line spacing to “2.0.” 
  • Do not include additional spacing between paragraphs or before or after headings. 
  • There are a few exceptions to double spacing, such as in tables and figures (see below).
Paragraph Alignment and Indentation: 
  • Paragraphs should be aligned to the left of the page (left justified). The text on the right margin will be uneven (i.e. do not use full justification). 
  • The first line of all paragraphs should be indented, except the abstract (Note: most student papers do not require an abstract).
    • The first line of each paragraph should be indented by ½ inch (or 1.27cm). For consistency throughout your paper, click your “Tab” key one time.
  • Use a Hanging Indent for all reference citations (see Reference List - Format section below for more information)

 

See Additional Resources for more.

Title Page - Student Paper

Most courses require students to write papers using the Student Style paper. Do not use the Professional Style paper unless your instructor requests you to. If you are unsure which style to use, ask your instructor for clarification. For Professional Style papers, refer to the Title Page - Professional Paper Section

 

Student style title pages require: 

Page Number:
  • Page number included in the top right corner. Ensure it is the same font as the rest of your paper.
Title of Paper: 
  • Bold and center aligned.
  • Follow Title Casing.
  • 3-4 lines down from the top margin of the page.
  • Double spaced.
  • Put a double-spaced blank line between the title and the author(s) names. This is the only additional line space in your paper.
  • The paper title also appears at the top of the first page of your paper (formatted as a Level-1 heading)
Author Name(s): 
  • Should be centered and one double-spaced blank line beneath the title.
  • In the format of first name and last name, e.g. John Doe.
  • Do not include titles, honorifics, or degrees.
Multiple authors:
  • Order the names of authors based on their contributions (i.e. the one that did the most work should be listed first).
  • Write all of the names on the same line (flowing onto additionally lines if needed).
Author Affiliation: 
  • Centre aligned and beneath the author(s) names.
  • Identify where they worked or studied when the paper was written.
  • Include the name of the institute in full (“Justice Institute of British Columbia”)
Course Name:
  • Include the course abbreviation, number, and full course name, center aligned and below the Author Affiliation, e.g. RESM 2100: Research Methods
Instructor:
  • Include the full name (first, any middle initial that they use, and last) of the course instructor(s), centre aligned and below the Course Name. 
  • Include the instructor's title and /or degree (i.e. Dr., Professor, or PhD) if that is their preference.
Due Date:
  • Place the month, date, and year of the date the assignment is due, centre aligned and below the Instructor(s) name(s).
Word Count:
  • Word counts are not required on APA Style student paper title pages. However, if your instructor requests it, then include it centre aligned and below the Due Date of the paper. 
  • You may choose to stay the number of words or include “Word Count:” before the number of words, e.g. “1,987 words” or “Word Count: 1,987”

 

See Additional Resources for more.

Title Page - Professional Paper

Unless you are requested by your instructor to write your paper in the Professional Style of APA, use the Student Style format. If you are unsure which style to use, ask your instructor for clarification. 

For Student Style papers, refer to the Title Page - Student Paper section

 

Professional style title pages require:Example of a professional paper's title page.

Page Number:

Page number included in the header, in the top right corner. Ensure it is the same font as the rest of your paper.

Running Head:

The running head is an abbreviated version of the paper title that appears in the header at the top of every page to identify it for readers.

  • Consists of a maximum of 50 characters, counting letters, punctuation, and spaces between words.
  • If the title is less than 50 characters, the full title can be used.
  • Avoid using abbreviations.
  • The ampersand symbol (&) may be used rather than the word “and.”
  • In the header, in the top left corner.
  • In all capital letters.
  • Ensure it is the same font as the rest of your paper.
  • Use the same running head on every page of your paper.
  • Do not use the label “Running head” to identify the running head on any page.
Title of Paper: 
  • Bold and center aligned.
  • Follow Title Casing.
  • 3-4 lines down from the top margin of the page.
  • Double spaced.
  • Put a double-spaced blank line between the title and the author(s) names. This is the only additional line space in your paper.
  • The paper title also appears at the top of the first page of your paper (formatted as a Level-1 heading)
Author Name(s): 
  • Should be centered and one double-spaced blank line beneath the title.
  • In the format of first name and last name, e.g. John Doe.
  • Do not include titles, honorifics, or degrees.
Multiple authors:
  • Order the names of authors based on their contributions (i.e. the one that did the most work should be listed first).
  • Write all of the names on the same line (flowing onto additionally lines if needed).
Author Affiliation: 
  • Centre aligned and beneath the author(s) names.
  • Identify where they worked or studied when the paper was written.
  • Include the name of the institute in full (“Justice Institute of British Columbia”)
  • Include the department and/or program of study (e.g. “Bachelor of Law Enforcement Studies”)
Author Note:

An author note provides additional information about authors, study registration, data sharing, disclaimers or statements regarding conflict of interest, and help or funding that supported the research. The author note is written in the style of paragraphs. 

Students using the professional style of formatting should use the author note to include:

  • Course Information
  • Instructor
  • Advisors and/or Sponsors
  • Due Date
  • Word Count (if requested)

The author note may be arranged in separate paragraphs to maintain organization of ideas. For example, students may choose to keep course information, due dates, and word counts together in one paragraph and instructors, advisors, and/or sponsors in a second paragraph.

Formatting the Author Note:
  • Begin the author note in the bottom half of the title page.
  • Leave at least one blank line between the affiliation and the author note label.
  • Centre the label “Author Note” written in bold font.
  • Left align and indent each paragraph of the author note.
  • Do not label the paragraphs of the author note.

 

See Additional Resources for more.

Abstract

Note: most student papers do not require an abstract, ask your instructor if you are unsure. 

An abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of the paper and can be accompanied by a list of keywords. Screenshot of an APA abstract

Heading:
  • Write the section label “Abstract” in bold font, centre aligned at the top of the page, following Title Casing.
Paragraph Alignment and Indentation: 
  • The abstract is the only paragraph that should not be indented.
  • Write the abstract as a single paragraph.
  • Generally, the abstract should be a maximum of 250 words.
Keywords:
  • Keywords are words, phrases, or acronyms that describe the most important aspect of your paper.
  • Write the label “Keywords:” in italicized font one line below the abstract, indented 0.5 inches (or 1.27cm).
  • Provide the keywords after the colon in lowercase (capitalize only proper nouns) and separate each keyword by a comma.
  • Do not use punctuation after the last keyword.
  • If they keywords run onto a second line, the second line is not indented.
  • Do not put the keywords in quotation marks.

 

See Additional Resources for more.

Headings

What are headings?

Headings in your paper help organize your argument and signal to your reader what type of information is in each section. 

APA provides 5 levels of headings and sub-headings. Most student papers are not long enough to use all five levels. 

  • Use the title of your paper in a Level-1 Heading at the top of the first page. Do not start your paper with the heading “Introduction”.
  • Do not add extra line spacing (blank lines) above or below headings.

Use the chart and image below to understand how to format headings.

Formatting headings:

Chart explaining the five APA headings with an explanation and demonstration of the format.
Level Format
1

Centered, Bold, Title Case Heading

     Text begins as a new paragraph. Indent the first line of the new paragraph. 

2

Flush Left, Bold, Title Case Heading

     Text begins as a new paragraph. Indent the first line of the new paragraph. 

3

Flush Left, Bold & Italic, Title Case Heading

     Text begins as a new paragraph. Indent the first line of the new paragraph. 

4      Indented, Bold, Title Case Heading, Ending with a Period. Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.
5     Indented, Bold & Italic, Title Case Heading, Ending with a Period. Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.

Demonstration of headings

Title Casing:

Headings, section labels, and titles in APA Style follow Title Casing. Title Casing is a style of capitalization that has five rules:

  1. The first word is capitalized, include minor words such as “A” or “The”
  2. All words with four or more letters is capitalized
  3. The first word after a colon, em dash, or punctuation in a heading
  4. The first word in a subtitle
  5. Major words, including the second part of a hyphenated major word

 e.g. The Impact of Blunt-Force Trauma to the Brain.

Section Labels:

Special labels are Level-1 Headings that separate parts of a paper. Start a section heading on a new page. Common sections include: 

  • The Title of your Paper
  • Abstract
  • References
  • Appendix A (and so on for subsequent appendices)

 

See Additional Resources for more.

Quotations

A quotation is the exact reproduction of words from another source or from your own previously published work. There are two types of quotes in APA format: quotations and block quotations.

Paraphrasing

Most of the content in your assignment should be paraphrased rather than a direct quote. Some instructors may actually limit the amount or length of quotations used in an assignment. Consult with your instructor or visit the Writing Centre if you are concerned about the amount of quotations in your paper.


(1) Quotations (39 Words or Less):

If you are using a direct quote from a source that is 39 words or less, than you are required to surround the quotation within quotation marks. “ ”

  • Do  not use an ellipsis at the beginning and/or the end of a direct quotation unless the original source includes an ellipsis (APA Style Blog).
  • Place periods and commas within closing single or double quotation marks. Place other punctuation marks inside quotation marks only when they are part of the quoted material.
  • Place final sentence punctuation to the right of (after) your in-text citation.

Example: 

Effective teams can be difficult to describe because “high performance along one domain does not translate to high performance along another” (Ervin et al., 2018, p. 470).


(2) Block Quotes (40 Words or More):

If you are using a direct quote from a source and the quote is 40 words or more, than there are special formatting considerations. You will need to treat it as a block quote.

  • Do not enclosed the quotation with quotation marks within the body of your narrative. Instead, the block quotation should start on a new line. The entire quotation should be indented ½ inch (or 1.27cm) from the left margin, not just the first line.
    • Do this by using the ruler tool or by using the “Tab” key on the first and second lines.
  • The block quote should be double spaced with no additional space before or after the block.
  • Include an in-text citation.
    • Narrative style: the author and year come before the quotation in your narrative with the page number(s) appearing after, or
    • Parenthetical style: cite the author, year, and page number(s) in a parenthetical citation after the quotation. 
    • Place final punctuation to the left (before) your in-text citation. So, give the quotation's final punctuation and then the in-text citation element/s.

Example: 

Recruits may not graduate for a variety of reasons:

These reasons may include personal reasons (e.g., they no longer want to work in law
enforcement), physical training (PT) session failures (i.e., they do not complete the
requisite number of sessions as mandated by the LEA or state), injury, failure in
academics or scenario-based training. (Lockie et al., 2019, p. 1)

 

See Additional Resources for more.

Reference Page - Formatting

For more information on creating reference list citations, refer to other pages on the APA Style Guide. Demonstration of a references page

Label:
  • Write the section label “References” in bold font, center aligned at the top of the page, following Title Casing.
Alignment and Indentation: 
  • Double-space all entries in the reference list.
  • Use a hanging indent for all references
    • The first line of the reference should be flush to the left margin and all subsequent lines should be indented. 
    • This can be achieved using the ruler tool on the word processor.
    • Some word processors, such as Microsoft Word, may have a keyboard shortcut to achieve this, e.g. “CTRL” and “T”
Reference Entries:
  • Reference list entries should be arranged in order of author’s last name.
    • Do not re-arrange the authors within the reference list by alphabetical order.
  • Be consistent in presenting hyperlinks: 
    • If you chose to include the hyperlink for one entry, then include the hyperlink for all applicable entries. If you chose to remove the hyperlink for one entry, then remove the hyperlink for all applicable entries.
    • It is recommended to remove all hyperlinks if you are handing your paper in as a physical print out.

 

See Additional Resources for more.

Tables and Figures

Only include tables and figures in your essay if the information cannot be communicated in the text of your paper. Tables are generally used to show numerical or textual information while figures tend to be more graphical representations such as a chart, graph, photograph, or drawing. For ease of explanation, only the word “table” will be used below, but the same applies to figures; if figures differ then it will clearly be indicated.

The follow elements are required for tables and figures in APA Style:

Table Numbers:

Each table that you place in your paper is numbered consecutively (Table 1., Table 2., etc). 

  • Number your tables in the order they are first mentioned in your text beginning with Table 1.
  • Table numbers should be in bold and flush to the left margin, at the top of the table, (one double-spaced line above the table title).
Table Titles:

Each table that you place in your paper has a title. Titles for tables should be brief, clear, and explanatory.

  • The titles of table are italicized, left aligned, and in title case, e.g. Reasons Why Individuals Like Wine.
Table Notes:

Each table that you place in your paper should include a note afterwards to further explain the supplement or clarify information in the table or figure to your paper and can be general, specific, and probability.

  • Begin the table note one double-spaced line after the table.
  • Begin with the label “Note.” in italicized text. Include the period after the word “Note.”
  • Type the necessary information in your note in regular, non-italicized font.
  • For tables that you have obtained from secondary sources, include if they have been adapted, reprinted, modified, or have a copyright attribution. A copyright attribution is used instead of an in-text citation.
Some common table formatting tips: 

Referring to Them in the Text: In your paper, refer to every table that you have inserted. Do not include a table in your work that you do not clearly explain in relation to the ideas in your paper.

  • Do not write "the table above" or "the table below" or "the table on page 4." Instead refer to the table number and use this as an opportunity to tell your reader what to look for, e.g. "as shown in Table 1 there is a clear correlation ..." or "... of the results of the testing (see Table 1)." 
  • In general, only refer to the table number and not the title.
Reprinting or Adapting:

If you did not create the table yourself, for instance if you found it on the internet, you must include a copyright attribution in a note below the table. 

  • A copyright attribution is used instead of an in-text citation. 
  • Each work should also be listed in the reference list. 

Please see pages 390-391 in the Manual for example copyright attributions.

Placement:

Tables may be placed either within the text of your paper or all together at the end of your document after the reference list. In either location, tables should be aligned to the left margin, (not center aligned). 

  • When embedding in the text, position them after a paragraph break, preferably the paragraph in which they are referred to, with a double-spaced blank line between the table and the text. 
  • If you are choosing to include tables after your reference, then list place each one on a separate page.
  • Tables can also appear at the end of a paper in the form of an appendix.
Table Formatting: 
  • Ensure each column in your table has a heading. Capitalize only the first letter of the first word of all headings. Headings should not be much wider than the widest entry. 
  • In general, you would include solid horizontal lines in your table above and below the headings and after the last row. Do not include vertical lines between the columns or boxes around individual cells.
Figure Formatting: 
  • Use a simple sans serif font, such as Arial or Calibri, with font size no smaller than 8 points and no larger than 14 points. 
  • Axis labels on graphs should be parallel to their axes in title case. 
  • You may use colour but try to limit the number of different shades. 
  • Avoid the use of grid lines and 3-D effects. 
  • Figure legends explain symbols, line styles, etc., and are integral to understanding the figure and should use the same lettering that appear in the rest of the figure. Legends should be within or below the image and words in the legend should use title case.
Example:

Figure 1

Mean Regression Slopes in Experiment 1

Sample line graph showing regression slopes for four conditions in the experiment.

Note. Mean regression slopes in Experiment 1 are shown for the stereo motion, biocularly viewed monocular motion, combined, and monocularly viewed monocular motion conditions, plotted by rotation amount. Error bars represent standard errors. From “Large Continuous Perspective Change With Noncoplanar Points Enables Accurate Slant Perception,” by X. M. Wang, M. Lind, and G. P. Bingham, 2018, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 44(10), p. 1513 (https://doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000553). Copyright 2018 by the American Psychological Association.

(example from: https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/tables-figures/sample-figures#line)

 

See Additional Resources for more.

Appendices

Information in this section is as outlined in the APA Publication Manual (2020), sections 2.14, 2.17, 2.24, and 7.6.

Appendices are used to include information that supplement the paper’s content but are considered distracting or inappropriate for the overall topic. It is recommended to only include an appendix if it helps the reader comprehend the study or theoretical argument being made. It is best if the material included is brief and easily presented. The material can be text, tables, figures, or a combination of these three.

Placement:

Appendices should be placed on a separate page at the end of your paper after the references, footnotes, tables, and figure. The label and title should be centre aligned. The contents of the appendix and the note should be left-aligned.

  • If you are choosing to include tables and figures in your appendix, then you can list each one on a separate page or you may include multiple tables/figures in one appendix, if there is no text and each table and/or figure has its own clear number and title within the appendix.
  • Tables and figures in an appendix receive a number preceded by the letter of the appendix in which it appears, e.g. Table A1 is the first table in Appendix A or of a sole appendix that is not labeled with a letter.

The follow elements are required for appendices in APA Style:

Appendix Labels:

Each appendix that you place in your paper is labelled “Appendix.” If a paper has more than one appendix, then label each with a capital letter in the order the appendices are referred to in your paper (“Appendix A” is referred to first, “Appendix B” is referred to second, etc).

  • The label of the appendix should be in bold font, centre-aligned, follow Title Casing, and is located at the top of the page.
  • If your appendix only contains one table or figure (and no text), then the appendix label takes the place of the table/figure number, e.g. the table may be referred to as “Appendix B” rather than “Table B1.”
Appendix Titles:

Each appendix should have a title, that describes its contents. Titles should be brief, clear, and explanatory.

  • The title of the appendix should be in bold font, centre-aligned, follow Title Casing, and is one double-spaced line down from the appendix label.
  • If your appendix only contains one table or figure (and no text), then the appendix title takes the place of the table/figure title. 
Appendix Contents:
  • Text:
    • Left aligned and indented; written the same as paragraphs within the body of the paper
    • Double-spaced and with the same font as the rest of the paper
  • Tables and Figures: 
    • If the appendix contains a table and/or figure, then the table/figure number must contain a letter to correlate the table and/or figure to the appendix and not the body of the paper, e.g. “Table A1” rather than “Table 1” to clarify that the table appears in the appendix and not in the body of the paper.
    • For tables and figures in an appendix with text: 
      • All tables and figures in an appendix must be mentioned in the appendix and numbered in order of mention. 
      • All tables and figures must be aligned to the left margin, (not center aligned), and positioned after a paragraph break, preferably the paragraph in which they are referred to, with a double-spaced blank line between the table and the text. 
      • Each table and figure should include a note afterwards to further explain the supplement or clarify information in the table or figure to your paper/appendix and can be general, specific, and probability. See “Table Notes” in the section “Table and Figures” above for more details.

Some common appendix tips:

Referring to Appendices in the Text:

In your paper, refer to every appendix that you have inserted. Do not include an appendix in your work that you do not clearly explain in relation to the ideas in your paper.

  • In general, only refer to the appendix by the label (“Appendix” or “Appendix A” etc.) and not the appendix title.
Reprinting or Adapting:

If you did not create the content in the appendix yourself, for instance if you found a figure on the internet, you must include a copyright attribution in a note below the figure. 

  • A copyright attribution is used instead of an in-text citation. 
  • Each work should also be listed in the reference list. 

Please see pages 390-391 in the Manual for example copyright attributions.

 

See Additional Resources for more.
The Overall Paper
Title Page - Student Paper

The following resources are available from the APA: 

Title Page - Professional Paper 
  • The JIBC APA Home tab (https://libguides.jibc.ca/apa) has more resources, including a Sample APA Style Professional Paper that demonstrates the APA Style Professional Title Page: TBA 

The following resources are available from the APA: 

Abstract

The following resources are available from the APA: 

Headings

The following resources are available from the APA: 

Quotations

The following resources are available from the APA:  

Tables & Figures
  • Tables & Figures Tip Sheet. - Coming Soon 

The following resources are available from the APA: 

References Page - Formatting
Appendix
  • Appendix Tip sheet. - Coming Soon

Feedback Survey

Thank you for using the JIBC Library's new APA 7th ed. Guide. It's the same great content, with a new look & feel.
We'd like to know more about your experience using the new APA Guide and invite you to take our quick feedback survey, available at: JIBC Library APA Guide Feedback.

Attribution

The JIBC APA 7th Edition - Formatting your Paper page was adapted with permission from the University of British Columbia's APA Citation Style Guide - Formatting Your Paper.