When writing a research paper in any of the social sciences, APA style is the preferred format to cite sources, including in-text citations, reference page list, and endnotes or footnotes. Here are ten main points you need to know about correctly formatting your research paper in the APA style:
Everything in the document should be double-spaced, and margins should be 1-inch all the way around. You should also include headers throughout the different parts of the research paper, making it easier for your reader to follow along and navigate through the content. Each page should also have a page number placed on the upper right hand corner. Paying attention to each of these details will make for a better document.
Your title page should follow this format: Title of the document about one-third from the top of the page, followed by your name double-spaced below this, followed by your university or institution’s name double-spaced below this. Every page after your title page will have a running head on the upper left hand corner in all capitals. A running head is simply a shortened version of your research paper’s complete title.
Your abstract should be written on a separate page immediately after your document’s title page. It’s generally a single paragraph written in block format and should be about 150 to 200 words.
The first section of your document will introduce your topic. However, unlike other sections in your document it does not have to have a section header that says intro. Depending on the length of your document it can contain anywhere between one or several paragraphs. For easy identification place your thesis statement as close to the end of your introduction as possible.
Some kinds of research papers will require that you include the method you have used to gather your data or information (e.g., survey, questionnaire, experiment, etc.). Briefly describe how you went about gathering your information and what limitations or challenges you faced.
A lot of students find this to be the most difficult section to write. This is where you present the results of your study and your analysis of what those results say. It’s usually a good idea to remind the reader about your hypothesis.
This is the main portion of your research paper where you interpret and explain your results. Explain what it is that you discovered with your work, and answer any questions you had about your topic when you first started with your work.
Books and articles follow the same citation format within your text. Simply list the author’s last name and the year of publication in parentheses. When your citation includes quotations be aware that they will be listed differently in the references/bibliography page.
Endnotes and footnotes should be used when information about a reference is important enough to know or understand but is either too long or tangential for it to be included within the text of your work.
Your reference page should include complete citation information for every resource you used in your document. It’s best to consult a style guide for specific examples of how to list each resource, since there are differences between citing a video or conference versus a book or article.