APA Style Research Paper Format

Published by Charlie Davidson on

APA Style Research Paper Format

An APA style research paper consists of the following parts: title page, an abstract, introduction, method, discussion and reference page. Each section of your paper includes the specific type of information. You may also include some figures and tables in your work.

As a rule, APA formatting is used for papers in social sciences. And, of course, research papers writing within social sciences is not uncommon for students. This guideline is designed for those who need some formatting prompts for a research paper.

General formatting rules for an APA research paper

  • Title page, abstract, reference page, figures, and tables should be on the separate pages.
  • A research paper should be composed in the past tense.
  • Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
  • The whole paper should be double-spaced, with 1-inch margins on all sides.

Title page

  • The title of your paper should be ten at most words in length and should reflect the topic of your work.
  • Paper title, your name and your college name should also be double-spaced.
  • To create a page header use “View header” Word function. On a title page your header should look like this:

    (Flush Left) Running head: A HEADER IS WRITTEN IN CAPS.

    The words “Running head” are only written on the title page. They do not appear on the other pages.
  • The header should not exceed fifty characters, including spacing.
  • Page numbers start from the second page, a title page doesn’t count. The page numbers should be located on the same line with a header, like this: (Flush right): page number.


  • Write the word “Abstract” (labeled, not bold, centered).
  • The entire abstract should be no more than 120 words. It is recommended to write only one paragraph in a block format.
  • An abstract is also double-spaced, as the entire paper.
  • As for the content, you should present your topic and briefly describe your method, result, and discussion.


  • Paper title should be written at the top of the page – not bold.
  • Do not write the word “Introduction.”
  • In APA style, Introduction is a tricky part. A winning introduction should critically evaluate, summarize and briefly describe the existing knowledge in the discipline and relevant areas in a way it shapes your study. In addition, you have to mention why you decided to conduct your research.

An Introduction begins with broad (avoid being too broad) background information and becomes more specific towards the end.


  • Write the word “Method” (centered, bold, labeled).
  • Writing a Method section in the APA style, you should include the details of your research process in a clear way to let other researchers follow it exactly. For a difficult and large-scale research papers, you should include Materials, Procedure and Participants sections.


  • Write the word “Results” (centered, bold, labeled).
  • This section should describe the way you have approached a data analysis and what you have found. In case if you’ve had a number of theories and tested each of them separately, break this section into titled sub-sections.
  • Include descriptive statistics in a separate section.
  • Mention what kind of analysis you used to test each of your theories.
  • You may include a figure or a table to demonstrate your results at-a-glance. But don’t forget to refer to them in the content of your paper.
  • Do not write too many explanations. Describe trends presented in a table or figure, but do not examine it in detail in your text. Also, do not expand on the results – you will do this in your Discussion section.


  • Write the word “Discussion” (centered, bold, labeled).
  • The main aim of this section is to present your findings and put them in the broad context of your study and literature.
  • Your Discussion should be composed inversely to an Introduction. You should begin with specific facts and move to general information.
  • Begin with restating your findings briefly. Then discuss the following questions: Did your findings support your theory? Were there any unexpected and interesting results?
  • Next, discuss how your results can be placed into the broader academic body of knowledge. Discuss some pieces of literature you have mentioned in your paper and show how your findings fit in.
  • Describe the limitations you have faced. But don’t write pages explaining what have gone wrong during your research – just provide a couple of suggestions.
  • Have you found additional questions during your research? Do you have any suggestions for a future research and ways how it should be shaped?


  • Write the word “References” (centered, not bold, labeled).
  • Provide your sources in the alphabetical order be the last name of the author.
  • Double-space all references and do not include additional space between them.
  • Consult with APA manual to know how to format every type of sources correctly.

As you can see, the research paper writing in APA style is quite challenging. The paper formatting is difficult, as well as the research you have to perform. Use this manual for your papers or ask for professional writing help. Good luck!

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