How to Do a Draft in APA Formatting


The American Psychological Association has established formatting guidelines most commonly followed by disciplines within the social sciences, including psychology, sociology, linguistics, economics and criminology, and frequently used in business and nursing. A paper written in APA format should have four main parts: a title page, an abstract, the main body of the text and a references page. Your approach to an APA-formatted paper may require edits to ensure that all guidelines are followed.

The Title Page

  • Create a header for your title page. Written on the left side of your header should be: "Running head:" followed by the title of your paper in all capital letters. The page number should be on the right side of the header; for the title page, the page numbers should be "1."

  • Type your title, centered and about 1/3 of the way down the page, in upper and lower case letters. According to APA formatting rules, your title should not be more than 12 words long and should not contain abbreviations.

  • Include your name below the title. It should be written with your first name, middle initial and last name, and not include any professional or academic titles. Write your institution's name, which should be where you conducted your research, under your name.

The Abstract

  • On the header of this page, and all subsequent pages, the header should include the title of your paper in all capital letters to the left and the page number to the right.

  • Center the word "Abstract" across the page on the first line at the top of the available typing area, and compose a summary of the key points of your research. Do not indent your abstract. This section should include your research topic, research questions, participants, methods of research, results, analysis and conclusions. It should be a single paragraph long of 150 to 200 words.

  • List keywords from your paper in your abstract on the line immediately following your last line of text. Center the text and type "Keywords:" in italics and then list keywords, nonitalicized. Keywords allow people to search for your paper more easily.

The Reference List

  • Start a new page after the end of the main body of text using the same header format as the other pages in the document, except the title page. Center this page's title, "References," across the first line of the page.

  • Indent every line of your references page except the first line of each individual reference. List authors in this format: last name, first initial. You can list as many as seven authors for the same work, but if a work has more than seven authors, list the first six authors, followed by ellipses (. . .), followed by the last author's name. Alphabetize this page, and if you have more than one work by the same author, list the works according to publication date, starting with the earliest.

  • Capitalize all major words in journal titles. In works other than journals, such as books, articles or Web pages, capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle, the first word after colons or dashes and proper nouns. Italicize titles of long works, such as books and journals. Do not italicize, underline or use quotes for the titles of short works like journal articles or essays within edited collections.

Tips & Warnings

  • Purchase a physical copy of, or consult an online copy, the APA formatting guidelines to use as a reference.


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