What Is APA Formatting?

Kristie Lorette
Kristie Lorette
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Woman with hand on her hip

APA formatting is a specific guide of rules on how to write research papers and academic papers. This is the type of formatting some newspapers, magazines and other writing mediums use to ensure continuity in the writing between one piece to the next. APA formatting addresses issues such as the order in which the paper should be assembled, spacing, objectivity and references.

Typically, pieces that are written according to APA formatting are separated into eight sections. This usually applies to research papers, term papers and case studies. The eight sections include a title page, an abstract, an introduction, the method by which the research was conducted, the results of the research, a discussion, references used to complete the paper or study and any appendices for information that supplements the research.

APA formatting also deals with the formatting of the page of the paper. For example, the title of the paper and the author on the cover page are typically centered. It also typically requires that each new paragraph of the paper is indented. The entire manuscript should also be double spaced. The alignment of the page should be to the left, which means the words will wrap at the left hand side of the page, so that a ragged pattern is created rather than a straight line as you look down the page.

Headings and sub-headings are used in APA formatting to separate the paper or article. This helps to break the paper, article or other medium up into logical, organized and easy to read sections.

Objectivity rather than subjectivity is another important aspect of APA formatting. This means that no opinions should be injected into the paper. When writing a paper using APA format, the writer should rely on facts and present the data that was found during the research phase.

APA formatting also requires the writer to cite the references in the paper. For example, if the writer uses a fact that was found in a New York Times article, then the writer may say something such as, "according to the New York Times," and then state the fact.

All references should be included at the end of a paper using APA formatting. This would include the name of the reference and other bibliography information to show where the writer found the information required to put the paper together.

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