How to Write a Report in APA Format


The format and style guide of the American Psychological Association (APA) is the most common method used for writing reports and citing references in the social sciences, including anthropology, economics, political science, psychology and sociology. A report in this format consists of four general sections: title page, abstract, main body and references. The report should articulate one or more research questions and provide a logical structure that answers them, based on research and analysis. APA also requires proper citation of sources, both within the text and in the references section.

Things You'll Need

  • APA style manual


  • Gather your reference materials and make notes on index cards, providing you easy access to your notes when you write your report. Remember to jot down page numbers for any reference material you quote directly. In-text citations in APA style require a page number for quoted material, but not for information you paraphrase or summarize.

  • Draft a rough first version of your report. The purpose of this is to help you see what you absorbed from your research and reading. Do not worry about exact citation of sources or other style rules; save that for the revision stage. The first draft can help you identify a clear thesis and narrow or expand your topic as needed.

  • Revise your first draft to include a clear thesis and a logical arrangement of your report that answers the research issue(s) you propose to explore. Consult your APA style manual to answer questions regarding usage and citation of reference material. APA style requires in-text references in parentheses, with the author’s name and year of publication for paraphrased references, and this information plus a page number citation for quotations.

Structuring and Formatting

  • Format the body of your report according to APA standards. This means double spacing throughout, with 1-inch margins on all sides and a 10- to 12-point Times New Roman or similar font. You also will need a page header at the top of each page. The header should have the title of your report, followed by the page number.

  • Complete an abstract, using the body of your report as a guide. The abstract should have its own page, with the word “Abstract” as the title, centered (no bold face, underline or other typographical effects). The abstract should be 150 to 250 words in length and should include your research topic, questions, results and conclusions.

  • Write your title page. Center the information on the upper half of the title page, and type the title of your report, your name on the next line, then on the next line your institutional affiliation (i.e., the name of your school). Make sure to double space these lines.

  • Complete your references section, alphabetizing your sources by the authors’ last names. Make sure that you include all references cited in the body of your report in the references section.

Tips & Warnings

  • Listing keywords from your report in the abstract will make your report easier for researchers to locate in databases. To include keywords, center a line beneath your abstract and type keywords in italics, followed by the keywords you want to list (in regular font).

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