APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).
Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2018-02-21 02:26:13
Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.
To see a side-by-side comparison of the three most widely used citation styles, including a chart of all APA citation guidelines, see the Citation Style Chart.
You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel.
General APA Guidelines
Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
Include a page header (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. To create a page header/running head, insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.
Major Paper Sections
Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. Please note that on the title page, your page header/running head should look like this:
Running head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER
Pages after the title page should have a running head that looks like this:
TITLE OF YOUR PAPER
After consulting with publication specialists at the APA, OWL staff learned that the APA 6th edition, first printing sample papers have incorrect examples of running heads on pages after the title page. This link will take you to the APA site where you can find a complete list of all the errors in the APA's 6th edition style guide.
Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends that your title be no more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.
Beneath the title, type the author's name: first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).
Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation, which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.
Image Caption: APA Title Page
Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting, italics, underlining, or quotation marks).
Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced. Your abstract should be between 150 and 250 words.
You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.
Image Caption: APA Abstract Page
Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.
How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA
Contributors' names and the last edited date can be found in the orange boxes at the top of every page on the OWL.
Contributors' names (Last edited date). Title of resource. Retrieved from http://Web address for OWL resource
Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
The title page is the first page of your psychology paper. In order to make a good first impression, it is important to have a well-formatted title page in proper APA format that clearly represents your paper.
The following format should be used in both psychology lab reports and research articles. Your instructor may also request that you use a similar format for other types of psychology writing.
Elements of a Title Page
- Article title
- Author’s name
- Author's school affiliation
- Running head
- Page number
How to Choose a Good Title
One of the most difficult tasks is choosing a good title. Your title should be as specific as possible. Notice the titles used in the following examples:
- [Specific] "Second-order Beliefs and the Use of Self-Presentational Explanations for Behavior"
- [General] "Cognitive Abilities and Social Understanding"
The best way to structure you title is to look at your hypothesis and experimental variables. For example: "The Effects of [Independent Variable] on [Dependent Variable]"
The official APA publication manual notes that your title should be brief, yet it should communicate the main topic and variables of interest. Your goal should be to craft a title that can stand alone and be fully explanatory without further elaboration. A reader browsing through paper titles in an online database should be able to quickly read your title and know exactly what your paper is about.
You should also avoid words that serve no real purpose or that do not communicate essential information. Some examples of such words and phrases include “An Experiment on…,” “A Study of…”, “method,” or “results.”
How Long Should a Title Be?
The APA publication manual suggests that your title should be no more than 12 words long.
Author’s Name and School Affiliation
The next element of your title page is the byline, which lists the author’s name as well as their institutional affiliation. Listing your first name, middle initial(s), and last name is the recommended format. Do not include abbreviations of titles or degrees such as Dr. or Ph.D.
The institutional affiliation should be the location where the research was conducted, most often a college or university. In some cases, research may have been supported by more than one institution. For these instances, only include two affiliations if both schools offered substantial support to the research and only list two affiliations for every author. What should you do if you were not affiliated with an academic institution when the research was conducted? In this instance, the APA suggests listing your city and state of residence in place of the academic affiliation.
- A running head should be included in the upper left-hand corner on all pages, including the title page.
- All pages, including the title page, should also have a page number in the upper right-hand corner.
- The first line of your title page should be left-aligned at the top of the page, using the following format:
Running head: PAGE TITLE
Note that the running head should be listed as no more than fifty characters, including letters, spacing between words, and punctuation of your title in uppercase letters.
- Your title, name, and school should be double-spaced and centered on the page.
A Quick Title Page Checklist:
- Does your title page contain a title, your name, your school affiliation, a running head, and a page number?
- Is your title clear, specific, and does is accurately describe what your paper is about?
- Is your running head in uppercase format and no longer than fifty characters in length?
- Is the title, your name, and school affiliation centered on the page and double-spaced?
American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Author: Washington, DC.