Essay Format APA: Understanding The Basics Before Writing

If you have been told by your teacher to write an essay using the APA format, there is no need to panic. It might seem like you are about to climb a mountain, but it is not as challenging as you think if you get to know the basics. The publication manual where you can find details about this formatting style is handy when you need to get specific answers to some questions and can even help you understand APA proper. But if you want to learn the basics to draft a quick paper, continue reading!

Meaning of APA format

If you are taking classes in psychology, there is a possibility that one, if not all your assignments will be written using the APA style. The reason for this not popularity, it's the official format that the American Psychological Association uses for publication. And besides psychology, a number of disciplines such as those in education as well as other social sciences use it.

Just like others, the APA dictates how an essay should be presented, focusing on areas like the margin, spacing, citation and the entire structure of the content. In this guide, you will understand the steps to follow when your teacher asks you to write using this research essay format APA.

The Main Sections of Your Paper

Your paper might take this format; the title page, abstract, body, and references. Adhere to this structure unless the instructions say otherwise which is not possible in most cases.

  1. Writing your title page
  2. In the title page of an essay paper format APA, the sections to include are your running head, title, the name of the author and school affiliation. They are not that difficult to write and but are important to your paper. Your title page helps readers understand what your paper is about and to know a bit about the author

  3. Writing your abstract
  4. Make your abstract concise and simple. It is just a summary of what you are writing about and nothing more. According to the academic essay format APA guidelines, abstract should be 150 – 250 words long though instructions from teachers might vary.

  5. Writing the body of your essay
  6. If you are told to use the college essay format APA, follow the instructions thoroughly. Use one-inch margin on the sides, bottom, and top of the paper, and indent the first word that appears on all paragraphs to at least one-half inch. You should also use the font size of 12, Times New Roman and double spacing.

  7. Writing your references
  8. All the sources you cite in your paper have to appear under this section as long as you used them. You can also check APA format example to learn more about how to structure your references if you got them from a book, online search or a journal.


Knowing the basic guidelines in APA style will make it easier for you to write the best paper. You can read samples written by professionals to learn more about how to go about the APA formatting style. Also, know that the MLA and Chicago are different from APA when writing your paper.

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