APA Formatting Guidelines

Note: If your instructor has his or her own requirements, follow them. These guidelines are the most commonly required.

Click here to see a sample.

1. Use Times New Roman or a similar font, 12 point in size with standard 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins.

2. Double-space throughout the essay, including for block quotations (where relevant) and the list of references.

3. When beginning a new paragraph, indent five spaces or ½ inch.  Keep the text alignment to the left.

4.  Subheadings help both the author and reader to organize the text.  Headings remain in the original font of the paper.  Level 1 headings are centred and bolded and level 2 headings are bolded and left-aligned.  Further details on subheadings can be found in the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2010).   

5.  APA requires a title page.  See the sample here.


  • Keep the title to a maximum of 12 words. The title should summarize the main idea and identify variable or theoretical relationships. 

  • The title should be written in headline style: capitalize the first word, a word following a colon, and any significant words (not articles [a, an, the], prepositions [of, for, with, etc.], or conjunctions [and, but, or, etc.]). 

  • Don't underline, italicize, or bold the title, and it is not necessary to put it in quotation marks or in block capitals.

  • Centre the title, your name, and the name of your school. Some courses may require the course code, the name of the professor, and/or the date of submission.

  • The entire title page should be double spaced. Use 12 point black Times New Roman font.




See a video on how to create an APA title page.


6.  Page numbers begin on the title page; all pages should be numbered in the top right corner (use only the number, do not write page, p. pg.).

7. For APA, you are required to include a running head at the top of your paper, beginning on the title page and continuing through reference pages and appendices.   A running head is an abbreviated title of the paper written in uppercase letters. Keep the running head to a maximum of 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.  



See a video on creating APA headers.


8.  Label and title both tables and figures.  Tables are labelled “Table 1” and numbered consecutively.  A title, which briefly identifies the data in the table, follows the label; both are positioned at the top of the table.  The labels, titles and captions for maps, graphs, charts or other images, are placed below the figure with consecutively numbered labels.  A title, which briefly describes the figure, follows the label.  A caption offers more detailed information on the figure.

  • Refer to tables and figures in the text of your paper by their label: “In Table 1, it is clear that . . .” or “. . . area is separated into five geographically distinct sections (Fig. 2).

9. Conventions for numeration, mathematical and statistical expression and taxonomical nomenclature are laid out in detail in the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2010). 

10.  When submitting a hard copy, staple or clip pages together at the top left-hand corner. Don't bind or put the essay in a folder unless required to by your professor. Use only white, 8 ½ by 11 inch good quality paper.

  • For electronic submission, follow the directions from your instructor.  Keep file names clear and relatively short by using your last name and date or course code, unless indicated otherwise.  Save your file in a standard format (.rtf is often best).

11. Until recently, it was usual to print on one side of the paper only, and many professors still prefer it. Others allow or call for printing on both sides of the paper in order not to waste it.  

12. Don't forget to proofread carefully as well as running a spell check and grammar check. There are many differences among Canadian, American, and British spellings of some words, so choose your  preference (Canadian) and make sure your spell check is set to it. Be consistent throughout your essay. Don't spell the word "centre" as "centre" in one place and as "center" in another.