APA Format Examples, Guidelines & Reference Pages

APA (American Psychological Association) style is a style guide used widely for academic writing in the social sciences and psychology. The APA style guide addresses a wide variety of formatting issues in academic writing regarding citations within the text of the work and the references along with the abstract and title page. Learn the ins and outs of APA writing style through APA format examples.

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General APA Formatting Expectations

When it comes to writing your APA paper, it's all about the format. The following are the fundamental rules of APA formatting as applied to an academic research paper.

  • Double spacing and typed (not handwritten) work is necessary.
  • All work should be submitted on 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
  • A page header, with the page number flush to the right, should run on each page of the essay. Additionally, professional papers include a brief version of the essay's title in fewer than 50 characters. This is called a running head.
  • One-inch margins are necessary on every page.
  • Font should be very clear and readable. Times New Roman in 12-point is recommended.
  • Essays must include three sections: title page, body and references. Professional papers also include an abstract, according to APA 7.
  • On the title page, include a centered (both horizontally and vertically) title. The author's name should appear underneath the title. Underneath the author's name should be the institution with which the author is affiliated.
  • The abstract should be the second page of the professional essay. It should be titled "Abstract" and consist of 150 to 200 words. The abstract includes major information from the research such as topic, question, methodology, analysis, participants, and overall analysis.
  • Citations in the body of the work should include the author's surname, year of publication and page number of the citation.
  • For short quotations, a signal phrase followed by author, year and page number is sufficient: Smith states "further scholarship is called for on this important and timely subject" (2009, 50).
  • Quotations longer than 40 words should be formatted as block quotes. Block quotes have a lead-in phrase, are indented and single-spaced. They also end with a citation.
  • When paraphrasing, be sure to include author name, date and page number, just as you would with a quote: According to Smith (2009), the current data shows that more research is needed (pg. 50).

APA Format for the Reference Page

APA style calls for a "References" section, not a "Works Cited" page, at the end of the work. The references section should always begin on a new page rather than sharing one with the conclusion of the body.

The structure of an APA reference page is as follows:

  • Book Entry: Up to nineteen authors, last name first, then first name or initial, with an ampersand (&) to separate the final author (not the word "and"), followed by a period. (Year of publication in parentheses followed by a period). Title of the work: Subtitle of work. Capitalize the first word of the title and subtitle only. Publisher followed by a period.
  • Journal Entry: Up to nineteen authors, last name first, then first name or initial, followed by a period. (Year of publication in parentheses followed by a period). Title of the work, followed by a period. Title, if any, of the anthology or journal in which the cited work appeared, in italics, including the volume number if any. (Issue number, if any, plain text in parentheses, followed by a comma if page numbers follow), page numbers in plain text followed by a period, then the URL. There is no period after a URL.
  • Web Content: Up to nineteen authors, last name first, then first name or initial, followed by a period. (Date of publication in parentheses, followed by a period). Title of page in italics followed by a period. Name of the website in plain text and a period. URL of your source in the form https://www.urlofyoursource.com. Do not place a period after the URL or DOI.
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Examples of Reference Page Citations

The following are examples of correct APA citation of a work in the "References" section. Reference lists should always be alphabetized. Double-space and use a hanging indent for entries of more than one line.

Bennett, D. (2011). Strategies and techniques in teaching reading. Goucher College.

Carroll, J.P. (1966). Some neglected relationships in reading and language. Elementary English, 43, 511-582.

Dickinson, D.K. & McCabe, A. (2001). Bringing it all together: The multiple origins, skills, and environmental supports of early literacy. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 16, 186-202.

Graves, M., Juel, C., Graves, B., & Dewitz, P. (2011). Teaching reading in the 21st century, motivating all learners. Allyn & Bacon.

Mesmer, H.A.E. & Griffith, P.L. (2005). Everybody's selling it: But just what is explicit, systematic phonics instruction? International Reading Association, 366-376.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. https://www.nrp.edu/report_nat...

NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2000). The relation of childcare to cognitive and language development. Child Development, 71, 960-980.

Pearson, P.D., Roehler, L.R., Dole, J.A., & Duffy, G.G. (1991). Developing expertise in reading comprehension. In J.S. Samuels & A.E. Farstrup (Eds.), What research has to say about reading instruction. (2nd ed., pp. 145-199). International Reading Association.

Pressley, M. & Afflerbach, P. (1995). Verbal protocols of reading: The nature of constructively responsive reading. Erlbaum.

Wasik, B.A., Bond, M.A., & Hindman, A. (2006). The effects of a language and literacy intervention on head start children and teachers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 63-74.

Whitehurst, G.J., Arnold, D.S., Epstein, J.N., Angell, A.L., Smith, M., & Fishel, J.E. (1994). A picture book reading intervention in day care and home for children from low-income families. Developmental Psychology, 30, 679-689.

Yopp, H. K. (1992). Developing phonemic awareness in young children. Reading Teacher, 45(9), 696-703.

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A Matter of Form

Find many more tips for formatting in APA style. See articles such as APA outline format examples and writing tips for APA-style research papers for more assistance. If you're looking for even more detailed information about the APA style, you can go straight to the source with the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. For help with generating and formatting your citations visit www.bibliography.com.