APA Citation Style Guidelines

APA citation format is probably one of the most popular citation styles.

Everyone knows it.

Or at least heard about it.

But you know what the problem is?

Most students are just lost when it comes to APA reference.

It’s very simple:

  1. You write a paper.
  2. You have to cite all sources.
  3. You have no idea how to do it right.

Does it sound familiar?

If yes, then you have come to the right place.

Custom Writing team created the most comprehensive guide to APA referencing.

What’s so special about it?

First, there are examples to every single type of source you may need to cite (and that’s awesome).

Second, everything is explained in a simple language.

But if it’s still confusing even after reading the guide, you can try using the APA title page generator. It will make figuring things out a lot easier.

Ok, so what should you start with?

To write a paper that will correspond with all APA format requirements, you need to remember the following:

  • the paper should be typed
  • it should be double-spaced
  • margins on all sides should be 1″, while paper size should be 8.5″ x 11″
  • a clear, readable font (Times New Roman or Arial) should be used
  • font size should be 12 pt.

APA papers contain page headers (or ‘running head(s)’) at the top of every page, together with page numbers. Page numbers are inserted flush right, while the title of the paper written in UPPER CASE is inserted flush left. Your title in the header should contain no more than 50 characters.

Papers written in APA are divided into four sections:

  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Body
  • Reference List

Note: Outline or Table of Contents can also be required.

Each of the sections follows specific formatting rules.

Title Page

  1. Include the title of your paper, author’s (authors’) name(s), the name of your college or university, and a running head.


Running head: THE TITLE

All the following pages have a different running head:



See the difference?

On the title page there should be words typed: Running head: THE TITLE

On all other paper only the very title should be written.

  1. Your title should be inserted in the upper half of the first page.
  2. You should not use more than 12 words for your title.
  3. Use upper and lower case (avoid abbreviations and redundant words):


The Title of Your Paper
  1. Title page should be double-spaced (just as the whole paper).
  2. Insert the author’s name after the title: First Name Middle Initials Last Name


John S. Smith

Do not add degrees or titles

Insert the name of the educational institution after the author’s name


Harvard University

Download Example


Abstract is written on a new page; this page should contain a page header (see above).

  • The word ‘Abstract’ is centered on a new page. Do not use quotation marks, bold, italics, or any other formatting.
  • The text on the abstract page is NOT indented.
  • Abstract should contain only the most relevant information, such as research topic/thesis statement, research question(s), sample size/participants, research design/method, data analysis, results, and conclusions.
  • Abstract consists of a single paragraph (from 140 to 255 words); the text is double-spaced.
  • If keywords are required, they are indented and written beneath the abstract. Do not forget to use italics: Keywords.

Download Example

Download Example

Reference List

Reference list is inserted at the end of your paper; any source that you use needs to be cited on the reference page and in the text. Citing an author in your text, but providing no information about the source on the reference list would be considered a mistake.

These are basic rules that you need to follow when writing a reference list:

  • Indent all lines after the first line in the entry; the lines should be indented one-half inch from the left margin of your paper
  • Do not forget to invert authors’ names: last name initials.


Cage, D. C.   If you have to cite more than seven authors, only the first six authors are listed, then an ellipsis is placed, and the name of the last author is listed after the ellipsis.
  • Reference list is always alphabetized by the last name (from A to Z).
  • Journal titles are always presented in full


Archives of General Psychiatry
  • Do not alter the journal’s name


  • JAMA Psychiatry (NOT Jama Psychiatry)

Download Example

Further study