How to Format a Thesis in APA Style


When compiling your thesis or any other piece of higher academic work, you will need to follow the style format guidelines chosen by your college or university. There are various style guides, with APA being particularly popular amongst social sciences. While the style guides are primarily used to indicate how sources should be cited within your document, there are also various thematics and aesthetics that define how an APA thesis should be formatted. These will all be able to be set up in your word processing application, so once the format is determined you will not need to make further adjustments.

  • Type your thesis on standard-sized paper (8.5 by 11 inches) with uniform 1-inch margins. Double-space your document and use a standard font such as Times New Roman. Use a size 10-point or 12-point font size.

  • Include a header on each page with the page numbers aligned to the right. Your thesis title should be in all capitals and aligned to the left.

  • Format your document into four main sections: Title, Abstract, Main Essay and References. (Additional sections may be required for advanced or more complex term papers or at your instructor's discretion. You can explore these in the online APA tutorial in Reference 2.)

  • Amend the header on your title page so that "Running head: " precedes the title.

  • On your title page include your thesis title (in upper and lower case). Make sure your title is no longer than 12 words in length. Under the title should be your name and below that your college or university name.

  • Include the word "Abstract" centered on the first line of the abstract. Write a 150- to 250-word outline of what your thesis is about.

  • Format your quotations and paraphrases in the correct APA style. This will depend entirely upon what type of thesis you are writing as to which sources you will use. Check OWL's citation APA guide for more details (Reference 1). Note that in newer word processing applications you may be able to use the inbuilt citation and reference manager so you can enter the citations far more easily.

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