APA Format Tips, Guidelines, and Examples

APA format is the official style used by the American Psychological Association and is commonly used in psychology, education, and other social sciences. Check out this gallery of examples, tips, and guidelines for writing papers in APA format.

Title Page

Your title page should include a page number, article title, author name, and author affiliation. The seventh edition of the APA Publication Manual contained a few changes to the format of an APA style title page, including separate guidelines for student and professional title pages.

Keep these pointers in mind:

  • Add a page number that is flush right at the top of the page on all title pages.
  • Avoid any extraneous words that do not add meaning to your title. The APA style guide advises writers to avoid phrases such as "An Experimental Investigation of..." or "A Study of...".
  • Be concise. Your title should be a short statement of what the reader will find in the paper. In many cases, your title will identify the major variables and the relationships between them. For example, "Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Math Performance" is an example of a succinct title that clearly describes what the paper is about.
  • Include the title of your paper, your name, and your school affiliation. Don't use titles or degree info (such as Dr. or Ph.D.) before and after your name.
  • List the course number and name, instructor name, and assignment due date on student title pages.
  • Place the title at the top half of the page and centered between margins.
  • Provide a running head that is flush left at the top of the page in all upper-case letters on a title page for professional papers, but this is not recommended for student papers.
  • Use both upper-case and lower-case letters for the title.

Reference Pages

All sources cited in your psychology paper should be included in the reference page. The reference page should appear at the end of your APA paper. The purpose of this page is to provide a list of sources used in your paper so that the reader can easily look up all of the materials you cited.

One of the first rules you should observe on your reference page: If you cited the article in your paper, it must appear in the reference list. Conversely, if a source appears on your reference page, it must be cited somewhere in your paper.

Your references should begin on a new page with the title References in bold and centered at the very top. Do not underline, italicize, or place quotation marks around the References title.

Basic Reference Page Rules

Don't forget these rules when putting together your reference page:

  • Alphabetize references by the last names of the first author of each source.
  • Capitalize all major words in the title of a journal; i.e. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
  • Capitalize only the first letter in article titles. If a colon appears in the title, the first letter after the colon should also be capitalized. The title should not be placed in quotations, underlined, or italicized.
  • Double-space all references.
  • Italicize longer works such as books and journals.
  • List references in chronological order with the oldest reference
    appearing first, and working your way up to the most recent one when the same author is cited multiple times for different works.
  • Use a hanging indentation for each reference: the first line of the reference should be flush left, but each additional line of the reference needs to be indented.


Tables are a great way to display a great deal of information in a concise, clear, and easy to read format. In APA format papers, tables are generally used to describe the results of statistical analysis and other pertinent quantitative data.

However, it is important to note that tables are not simply used to replicate data that has already been presented in the text of the paper and not all data should be presented in a table. If you have little numeric information to present, it should be described in the text of your paper.

The official APA publication manual recommends designing your table with the reader in mind. Strive to communicate data in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

Basic Rules for Tables

Remember these pointers when using a table in your publication:

  • Add an individual title on each table. It should be italicized and presented with each word capitalized (except and, in, of, with, etc.). For example, Correlations Between Age and Test Scores. Try to ensure that your title is neither too general nor too specific.
  • Begin each table after the reference list on a separate page.
  • Embed tables in text or put them after your reference list, according to the seventh edition of the APA manual.
  • Focus on keeping your table concise. Too much extraneous information can overwhelm and confuse the reader. Stick to reporting the most important data.
  • Keep spacing consistent. A table can be either single-spaced or double-spaced.
  • Number all tables (e.g. Table 1, Table 2, Table 3).
  • Reference all tables in the text of the paper.
  • Remember that your table is there to supplement rather than replicate the text of your paper. Do not feel the need to discuss every element of your table in your text. Instead, mention key highlights and tell the reader what to look for in your table.
  • Separate information with horizontal lines to make it clearer. Do not use vertical lines in an APA format table.
  • Use a font that is large enough to read without magnification.

Table Headings

  • Capitalize the first letter of each heading.
  • Identify each column using a descriptive heading.
  • Use abbreviations for standard terms (e.g. M, SD, etc.) without explanation. Uncommon definitions should be explained in a note below the table.

Additional Notes

If additional explanation is needed, a note can be added below the table. There are three kinds of notes: General notes, specific notes, and probability notes. General notes refer to some aspect of the entire table; specific notes refer to a particular column, row, or cell; probability notes specify the probability level.

A Quick Checklist

Ask yourself these questions when finalizing your paper:

  • Are any special or uncommon abbreviations explained in notes?
  • Does the body of the paper refer to the table?
  • Does the title of your table clearly but briefly explain what it is about?
  • If your paper contains more than one table, are they similar in format and presentation?
  • Is each column of the table clearly labeled?
  • Is the spacing consistent throughout the table?
  • Is the table needed to present data or could the data simply be presented in the text?

Journal and Periodicals

Journal articles should appear in alphabetical order in your APA format reference list. Consult the image below for examples of journal articles in APA format.

More APA format tips:

  • Capitalize the first word in the title, subtitle, and proper nouns.
  • Italicize the name of the publication and the volume number.

Basic Rules

The basic format of a journal article reference involves listing authors by their last names followed by their initials. Next, the publication year is enclosed in parentheses and followed by a period. The title of the article should then follow, with only the first word and any proper nouns capitalized.

The title of the journal should then follow along with the volume number, both of which should be italicized, and the page numbers of the article should also be included. Finally, a DOI number should be included if one is available.

Electronic Sources

Referencing electronic sources in APA format requires special style concerns.

Electronic References Are Similar to Other References

The basic format of an electronic reference is very similar to that of any other reference. However, you typically need to include the online location of the document.

Use a Digital Object Identifier When Possible

Because online URLs can change, the APA recommends utilizing a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) in your references whenever possible. A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string that begins with a 10 as well as a prefix (a four-digit or more number assigned to organizations) and a suffix (a number assigned by the publisher).

Many publishers will include the DOI on the first page of an electronic document. If a DOI is available, simply include it as a hyperlink (https:/doi.org/ followed by the DOI number) at the end of the reference as follows — https:/doi.org/10.0000/00000000000

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Article Sources
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  1. Nicoll LH, Oermann MH, Chinn PL, Conklin JL, Amarasekara S, Mccarty M. Guidance Provided to Authors on Citing and Formatting References in Nursing Journals. J Nurses Prof Dev. 2018;34(2):54-59. doi:10.1097/NND.0000000000000430

Additional Reading
  • American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2020.