8 Simple Steps to Make Essay Format in APA

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Writing an essay is quite easy. You just need to conduct research, create an outline, and put the information in the introduction, body, and conclusion of the paper. However, formatting papers and creating in-text citations and references is a daunting task.  It especially seems so if you are not conversant with various citation styles. However, there are some easy steps to make an essay format in APA.  If you don’t know the formatting rules for developing an essay in APA, then this blog is for you. Here we have explained the concepts of APA format, its general requirements, and formatting guidelines. Read along to get more details.

What is APA Formatting Style?

To learn the easy steps to make an essay format in APA, it is important to know what APA formatting style is.  If you are a student of behavioral science and social science chances are high that you will develop at least one essay in the APA format in your academic program, the official publication style of the American Psychological Association. It is employed for developing academic journals and writing essays for various academic levels. APA formatting regulations include directions for spacing, margins, and the structure of the content. It uses the author-date format or the last name of the author and the year of publication to cite and create a reference list for different sources from which information has been ideated or quoted in the body text.

General Requirements to Write an Essay in APA Style

Specific guidelines must be adhered to to make sure that the essay is formatted accurately in APA style. It includes the following:

  • Use double-spaced headings and subheadings throughout the entire document.
  • Leave a one-inch margin on all sides of the paper.
  • The essay must be written in any of the three fonts: Times New Roman (12pt), Georgia (11pt), or Arial (11pt).

How to Use Numbers for Writing an Essay in APA Format

To make an essay format in APA style, you must follow the APA guidelines. According to APA rules, to state numbers below 10, you must use words.  However, you can employ numerals to express numbers 10 and above. Still, there are some other instances when using numerals is preferable:

  • Numerals are indicated in a table or abstract
  • Numbers immediately go before a unit of dimension (e.g., 5 cm, 2 gals)
  • Figures symbolize mathematical or statistical purposes, percentages, ratios, quartiles, and percentiles (e.g., divided by 6, 5%, a ratio of 9:1)
  • Numerals symbolize dates, time, scores, ages, point values on a scale, numerals, and precise sums of money (e.g., 10:14 am, $3, a 10-point scale). Exception: estimated numbers of years, months, weeks, or days (e.g., roughly 2 weeks ago)
  • Numbers indicate a particular place in parts of tables and books, a numbered series (e.g., photo 1, illustration 4).

Also read: Know How to Cite A Thesis Or Dissertation In APA Format with Examples

Know How to Use Punctuation in APA Format

APA format necessitates specific types of punctuation. It includes commas, periods, semi-colons, colons, parentheses, quotation marks, hyphens, and dashes. Each punctuation mark has a particular use. For example:

  • Commas– separate clauses and list items;
  • Periods– placed after abbreviations or to conclude sentences;
  • Semi-colons– used for items with commas;
  • Colons–  commence a list or explanation;
  • Parentheses– surround complementary information;
  • Quotation marks– to point towards direct quotes, titles, or sarcasm;
  • Hyphens and dashes– to connect words or indicate an interruption in thoughts.

Learn How to Alphabetize in APA Format

Follow these guidelines to arrange your reference list accurately and locate the sources used in your academic work quickly.

  • List the references in alphabetic order by the last name of the first author. However, if the author of the data is unknown, then cite it by the name of the title. Nonetheless, make sure that you do not consider “a”, “an”, or “the” for arranging the reference list alphabetically.
  • If information is collected from a source that is written by multiple authors, you must list the authors in the same order they materialize on the title page of the source of the document.
  • In case several authors have the same last name, write the initials of their first name to differentiate them.
  • If you utilize several sources of the same author, specify them chronologically, starting with the earliest work.

Ways to Align and Indent Essay Paragraphs in APA

essay format in APA

Proper paragraph alignment and indentation are essential to ensure the readability and uniformity of your essay. Here are some rules that you must follow to align the papers and indent them in the APA format.

  • Margin: As per the APA regulations, you must align the text to the left margin, while keeping the right margin “ragged” to create an uneven or jagged edge. This method provides a professional look to your essay and increases its readability.
  • Indentation: Indentation indicates the space between the left margin and the beginning of a new paragraph. In APA format, the first line of each paragraph must be indented by 0.5 inches It is similar to one tab key press. This method helps to distinguish paragraphs visually and lends a hand to the readers in differentiating between different ideas or sections in your writing.

Accurate paragraph alignment and indentation are crucial for formatting components in APA style. It also helps in submitting a polished form of your work. Moreover, these features help in introducing your ideas in a clear and organized way.

Read more: Learn How To Cite A Brochure In APA Format

APA Outline Formatting Guidelines

The easy steps to make an essay format in APA format typically incorporate the following main parts:

  1. Title page or cover page;
  2. Abstract, introduction, or outline;
  3. The central body, necessary arguments, or analysis;
  4. Conclusions, discussions, or recommendations;
  5. Reference list.

The segments incorporated in an essay may change depending on the following details:

  • Precise topics and the university requirements
  • The point of view a student wants to present in the essay
  • How the point of view is explained in the main body of the text.

However, these 3 components must be included in every APA format essay. In the following sections, we have explained the requirements for each of these sections in detail.

Steps To Make an Essay Format in APA

Here are the easy steps to make an essay format in APA format.

Step 1: Develop the Cover Page

To follow the easy steps to make an essay format in APA format begin an essay with a cover page or title page. The cover page is the first part readers and an examiner notice in an essay. Therefore, many experts state it as the “face” of an essay. Hence, it is important to ensure that the cover page is flawless. You must also check with your university’s department to examine if there are any specific needs for the cover page.

Some colleges or universities may offer a cover page sample that you must stick to for writing every essay. Each essay must have short titles that visibly showcase the content. You can write the title in two lines, but it must never exceed 12 words. An APA format cover page usually includes the following:

  • A page header (or running head);
  • The essay title;
  • The author’s name;
  • A page number;
  • The institution where the paper was submitted.

It may also include additional data like the title of the course, the name of your professor, and the date if required. You must place the information at the center of the page and double-space them. However, there is an exception. You must never center a page header.

Step 2: Use the correct page header

The 2nd of the easy steps to make an essay format in APA format includes using an accurate header. Academic institutions often instruct including a page header on every page of an essay. It includes the title of the page and page number. The title of the paper must be in capital letters and aligned at the left of the page. However, the page number must be aligned to the right.

A page header must be included at the uppermost part of every page of an essay. It must be of a maximum of 50 characters, including spaces. Students often develop short versions of their titles solely for their page headers.

Step 3: Concentrate on creating precise Headings and Subheadings

APA formatting style emphasizes using headings and subheadings to create clear and logical parts of an essay. An essay built in APA style typically includes five types of headings. Each of them has separate paragraphs of equal importance. The 1st stage is set aside for primary sections like “Methods” or “Results,” while the 2nd level to 5th level is used for subheadings. Usually, subheadings help in classifying a part into subparts that sensibly follow one another.

Let’s consider a heading and subheadings through the following example

Heading Level 1: The Impacts of Climate Alteration on Biodiversity

Heading Level 2: Deforestation

Subheading Level 3: Reasons for Deforestation

Subheading Level 3: Effect of Deforestation on Biodiversity

  • Level 1

The text begins with a fresh paragraph and is arranged in Title Case, with a combination of capitalized and non-capitalized letters. It’s centered and mentioned in bold font.

  • Level 2

The text starts with another new paragraph and is set up with uppercase and lowercase letters in the Title Case. It’s drafted in bold fonts and is aligned to the left of the paragraph.

  • Level 3

The formatting necessitates a Title Case and bold font. The text is indented to the left-hand margin of the page and concludes with a period. It starts on the following line after the period.

  • Level 4

The heading is formatted in Title Case with bold font and indented. It’s italicized. To separate the heading and the text, use a period and start writing the text on the same line.

  • Level 5

At the fifth level, the text in Title Case is indented, italicized, and drafted in normal font. To separate the heading and the wording, you must employ a period and start noting the text on the same line.

Also read: Get to Know the Business Letter Format with Examples

Step 4: Develop the Abstract

The abstract is an informative section of the essay developed in APA format. However, it has short paragraphs. It offers readers with necessary information about the text before they look into it. Usually, an abstract must be around 200 words or 10% of the total word count of the essay, if the word count for the essay is longer. Inside this summary, you must showcase the main theme of the essay or the essay statement, its research question, aims of study, techniques, and main conclusions.

The abstract is created as a separate section of the text, put visually and contextually apart from the rest of the body of the essay. It is typically developed in plain text. It does not require any formatting and is tagged with a simple “Abstract” title.

Step 5: Take Care of the Key Components to Write an Essay in APA Format

The body of the essay comes next to the abstract. To adhere to the easy steps to make an essay format in APA format include all the essential ideas, thoughts, and arguments in the main body of the paper. Number each page of the main body of the essay; label the abstract page as page 2.

It usually includes three large sections. It includes the introduction, body, and conclusions. The body section of the essay includes the following sections: research methods, discussions, or arguments. However, you may need to add a few more sections to your essay depending on the subject on which you write the essay and your university’s essay writing requirements.

Nonetheless, according to the latest APA essay writing guidelines, you must format the body of the essay in the following way:

  • Maintain Identical margins of at least one inch on all sides of the document;
  • Write the text in the Times New Roman 12pt;
  • Double spacing your entire essay body section;
  • include the page number in the top right corner of every page;
  • Indent the first word of every paragraph by half an inch from the margin.

Each section of the central body, such as methods, discussions, and conclusions, should begin with a new paragraph and a pertinent title. The title can be simple like “Methodology” or as descriptive as “Results of Analysis: Impact of Facebook on Perception of Body Image.” You must also subdivide the discussions or arguments into subsections to present and expand on the results in a planned way.

Step 6: Create the Table of contents

Not everyone who shares easy steps to make an essay format in APA format will find precise directives for arranging the table of contents. It is not obligatory to incorporate a table of contents in professional or student essays. However, including it will help the readers find the chapters of the essay quite easily. To develop a table of contents, take the following steps:

  • Put the table of contents on a separate page between the abstract and introduction sections
  • Term it as “Contents”
  • Bold the letters and place them at the center of the document.
  • Enlist the primary headings together with their respective page numbers.

Step 7: Concentrate on writing the Flawless Reference page

An essay must incorporate a reference list with all the sources cited. Place the reference page in the middle of the essay’s main body and appendices. On this page, mention all the sources cited in the essay using APA in-text citations. Begin the reference page on a separate page. Term it “References” at the uppermost part, employing bold and center alignment. List the references alphabetically below the term by the last name of the author. Ensure they are double-spaced. To format references, use a hanging indent where the initial line of each entry is pushed to the left, while all following lines are indented by 0.5 inches.

Step 8: End with Tables and figures

Tables and figures have a common format as per the latest citation style of APA. Both of them include a number and title on top of the pages. Some tables and figures may require explanatory notes. To make the table or figure prominent, bold the words “Table” or “Figure” together with the corresponding number. Put the title on a different line below this. Italicize the text and put it in the title case.

Keep the tables uncluttered. Avoid employing vertical lines, restrict horizontal lines to a minimum, and ensure that row and column labels are undersized.

Also read: Learn How to Write Claim Letter Format with Examples


From the above discussion, you must have a clear idea of the easy steps to make an essay format in APA style. Adhere to them to create a plagiarism-free paper. However, if you struggle to understand the regulations, get in touch with our essay helpers. The research scholars of the essay help service can assist you in setting the layout of your document, making in-text citations, and creating detailed reference lists for APA and all other citation styles you know of. Our experts are available 24×7 and can send you the solution within your set deadline.

Jacob Smith Essay Topics Reading Time: 13 minutes

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