This paper serves as a template that can be downloaded onto your own computer. Simply replace the existing text with your own text; be sure to retain the formatting that exists in this template. This paper discusses and illustrates some of the formatting rules found in the APA style guide, including the abstract, body, and the references page. Abstracts are typically less than one page in length, approximately 150 words.

This word restriction requires a concise, objective summary of the topic/argument and presentation of results or conclusions. Therefore, the abstract is written upon completion of the paper. Personal opinions should not be included in the abstract; this must be an objective overview of the paper. Notice that the first line of the abstract is not indented; rather, it is left-aligned. Meanwhile, the right margin looks “jagged;” this format is known as “flush left.” At the end of the abstract, there should be a page break to separate the abstract from the body of the paper. Two significant resources for writing in APA style include a video which demonstrates how to use features in Microsoft Word to set up the paper in a specific style guide format ( and the online writing lab at Purdue University (

Title of Essay Centered on the First Line

Online college students often wonder why the APA style guide is required for their written assignments. After all, the Publication Manual of the American Psychology Association specifies guidelines for the preparation of scientific manuscripts for researchers who submit their papers to scholarly journals for publication. With that specific purpose, why should college students be required to adhere to these guidelines? This question serves as the introduction to the discussion of implementing the APA style guide in written assignments. The introduction to the paper should present the topic or research question in an interesting way that will pique the reader’s interest. An introduction makes the “purpose, worth and need” (Algozzine, Spooner, & Karvonen, 2002, p. 25) for the paper explicit to the reader. “A common practice in preparing this section of the article is to use several paragraphs to discuss other studies pointing to different opinions or raising questions that have been answered in the study,” according to Algozzine, Spooner, & Karvonen (2002, p. 25).

This paper presents three distinct reasons for the APA style guide requirement: first, use of APA style facilitates readability through consistent formatting; second, the APA format reduces the likelihood of committing plagiarism; and third, the APA format ensures that readers who are interested in the references cited may find the original sources. These reasons are all part of the creation and transmission of knowledge in the academic world.

Consistent Formatting Enhances Readability

The Publication Manual of the American Psychology Association, commonly referred to as the APA style guide or informally as APA format, provides rules and examples of formatting a manuscript. Formatting refers to how the pages are set up, and also how citations of original sources are presented.

Page Formatting

In the body of the paper, each page should contain the title of the paper in the page header. Additionally, the page number should appear in the top right corner, also in the page header. Each paragraph in the body should be doubled-spaced and indented by one-half inch. The margins should be 1” all around. The author should use 12 point Times New Roman font, except where the APA format indicates use of another font (such as for titling Figures).

Headings. To enhance readability, the author should use headings to organize the flow of the paper. Headings provide clarity regarding the outline, or hierarchical organization of the topics in the paper. There are five levels of headings, according to the Publication Manual (2009). Level 1 headings (such as the heading “Consistent Formatting Enhances Readability” above) should be centered and boldface. Just as in titles, the main words in the heading are uppercase, while the smaller words remain lowercase.

Additional levels of headings . Level 2 headings (such as “Page Formatting” above) should be left-aligned, boldface, and exist on its own line in the paper. The main words in the Level 2 heading are uppercase, while the smaller words remain lowercase. Level 3 headings (such as the heading “Headings” at the beginning of the previous paragraph) appear at the beginning of a paragraph and should be indented, boldface, and followed by a period. Level 3 headings contain both uppercase and lowercase letters, as appropriate. Level 4 headings (such as “Additional levels of headings” above) appear at the beginning of a paragraph, and should start with an uppercase letter but followed by lowercase letters; the heading should be both italicized and boldface, with a period at the end (Hawks, 2010).

Example of last level of heading. Finally, the last level of headings should introduce a paragraph, be italicized, be capitalized at the beginning, and end with a period. It is not necessary to use all five levels of headings in a paper; only papers that contain this depth of organization require these different types of headings. A good rule of thumb is to first outline the paper to see how many levels of organization are included; for each level in the outline, the appropriate heading should be used in the text of the paper.

Reduce Likelihood of Committing Plagiarism

When writing papers, students must consult other sources in order to demonstrate their ability to learn from others, advance an argument, and compare differing aspects of the counter-arguments. This is how academics (people who are also known as scholars) advance the knowledge in their fields. Additionally, researchers must explore the literature prior to conducting their own research studies; reference to other scholarly works is essential. The greatest concern for any author should be appropriately citing the sources used in their papers. Failure to do so results in a charge of plagiarism. For academics and researchers, this can be a career-ender; for college students, this can result in failing the assignment, failing the course, or being expelled from school. Thus, adhering to the APA style guide is one way to engage with the academic community in an ethical manner. Citations occur in two ways: in-text citations, and the references page.

In-text Citations