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Citing Sources: APA 7 Overview

Guides for citing sources in MLA and APA format

Edition Note

APA Publication Manual Front CoverThe 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association was published in October 2019. Some departments and instructors may still be using the 6th ed. Please consult your instructor if you are unsure which edition to use.

Setting Up and Formatting a Student Paper

If your paper will follow strict APA formatting, follow the steps below. Your paper should have three major sections: the title page, main body, and references list. The Publication Manual covers these guidelines in Chapter 2; the APA website also has a Quick Answers--Formatting page.

These guidelines will cover how to set up a student paper in APA format. The 7th edition now has specific formatting for student papers versus a professional paper (i.e. one being submitted for publication). APA does not specify a specific font or size, just that it must be legible. Their only guideline is that the same font should be used throughout the paper. Some suggestions are 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, 12-point Times New Roman, and 11-point Georgia. If your instructor has specified a font or font size, follow those guidelines. Student papers do not need a running head. If your instructor has requested a different format or additional elements, use your instructor's preferences.

1. Set the margins to 1 inch. Set the spacing to double.

2. Add pages numbers to the header. Insert the page number in the right area of the header. Use the built-in page numbering system; do not attempt to type each page number manually.

3. Create the title page. On the first page you will include the following information: title of your paper, your name, your college, course number and name, instructor, and due date. This information will be centered, and will be a few lines down from the top. Your title should summarize the main topic of your paper. Try not to be too wordy or off-topic. While there is no word limit for titles, "short but sweet" is the goal. The APA Style Blog has further information on titles: Five Steps to a Great Title. Use title case for paper titles. Examples: Attitudes of College Students Towards Transportation Fees, Effect of Red Light Cameras on Traffic Fatalities, Juror Bias in Capital Punishment Cases

APA title page

4. References. The references list should be on a new page, and should be the last section of your paper. The heading at the top of the reference list should say References at the top (not Bibliography or Works Cited, unless your instructor tells you otherwise) and bolded. All reference lists should have a hanging indent. To create a hanging indent in Word, you can press the Control key along with the letter T.  Line spacing in the reference list should be set to double (2.0). When organizing your references list, you must alphabetize your references. Generally, you will organize by the author's last name. Go letter by letter and ignore spaces, hyphens, punctuation etc. If a work has no author, use the title to alphabetize. You will use the first significant word to alphabetize; this means you skip words like the, a, and an. For more information on creating and formatting references, go to the References tab. 

Guide License

Creative Commons License This guide is used/adapted with the permission of Santa Fe College Library. This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License