Great Tips on Using the APA Essay Format

If or when you are asked to use the APA essay format in an assignment, the task might seem quite daunting at first, particularly if you are used to using other styles such as the Chicago or MLA style. In any case, before beginning, there are some basic rules you should know about.  

The tips outlined below are designed to help you write an APA format essay correctly.

What is Meant by the APA Essay Format?

It can help to refer to an existing APA essay example to understand this format. Irrespective of what level of education you are at, and especially if you are studying psychology, there is a good chance you will be asked to complete one paper at least during any given term. 

Often, for these assignments, you will be asked to use the APA formatting style. This is the American Psychological Association’s official style of publication. 

You will see from virtually any APA format essay example, that this style is popular in many fields of study such as education, psychology, and other social science disciplines. This style determines how various elements of a paper should be presented, e.g., margins, line spacing, and content structure.

Although this article offers some basic advice on the APA formatting style, it is always wise to check whether your tutor has particular instructions and, if so, what these are. 

Basic rules of an APA style essay:

  • Leave the same size margins (i.e. one inch) on all sides of the page, e.g., left, right, top and bottom.
  • Use double-spacing throughout.
  • There should be a running head in the upper left-hand corner of every page. This running head should be a short version (maximum of fifty characters with spaces) of your paper’s title, usually the initial few title words.
  • There should also be a page number in the upper right-hand corner of each page.
  • Additionally, your APA essay should have a title or cover page. This page should show the name or title of your work, you own name, and your academic affiliation. A tutor may sometimes want extra information e.g. the name of your course, your instructor’s name, and the assignment’s date.
  • APA style essays also require a list of references to be included in double-spacing at the end. This list is, essentially, a record of all sources a writer uses in their paper. Each reference should be entered in alphabetic order under author’s surname.      
 

Additional Tips on How to Write an APA Essay

Again, if you check an APA sample essay, you will see that all sources must be properly cited and that information should be presented according to the prescribed rules. Here are a few more tips.
Begin by selecting a suitable topic. In an ideal world, you should choose something that is sufficiently specific to allow you to fully explore and research it. On the other hand, your topic should not be too specific that it is difficult to find informational sources. If a topic is too narrow or specific, there may not be sufficient material to expand it. If it is too wide-ranging or general, you could become overloaded with material.

Secondly, begin researching your topic as soon as you can. Start by scanning some essential topic-related articles and books.
As the subject matter starts becoming familiar to you, create a list of initial sources e.g. articles, books, case studies, and/or essays that may be useful.   

While using the essay APA format, make sure you keep track of any sources you use. Do not forget that every source you use needs to be shown in your reference list. Likewise, the sources shown in your reference list need to appear somewhere within your paper’s body text. 

Once a rough or initial draft of your paper has been prepared, you will need to review your work, revise it, and write the final version. Additionally, you need to ensure your written work is clear, coherent, and fully supported by reliable sources. You also need to look out for grammar and typographical errors and/or possibly any formatting inconsistencies.

A Few Last Thoughts

Using any of the common essay formats for the first time can be daunting, and this applies to APA. This is why it can be a great help to know the basics. However, do not forget to always check any instructions your instructor provides!

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