How To Write An APA Research Paper?

Coupled with tons of academic activities to take care of at the same time, becoming successful in your academic pursuit is very difficult. For you to create a compelling academic research paper, you need to understand the design and the formatting rules of a research paper. That is why this article on how to write an APA research paper is fundamental.

Different academic fields of study have specific rules that apply to a research paper in that field. These sets of rules are comprehensive, and one of them is the APA writing standard.

What Is APA Standard?

Before we attempt to understand the standards of APA, we must first of know what the acronym “APA” stand for. It stands for the “American Psychological Association”. This association include several experts from the US, Canada and other professional psychologists from different countries. The total number of members of this association is about 150,000. This associated created a world-wide standard for writing an academic research paper in the field of social sciences. And over the decade’s professional writers have kept to these standards.

The APA standard is used in an academic research paper in various fields such as:

  • Psychology;
  • Business;
  • Criminology;
  • Economics;
  • Pedagogy: this includes applied linguistics;
  • Sociology;
  • And other social science fields.

You will see the standard recommendation for writing a research paper in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. This manual also contains how to write citations and how an academic research paper should look like.

The APA Guidelines for An Academic Research Paper

Below are the general guidelines for writing a research paper. Though these guidelines are for the social sciences, they are not exceptionally different from the instructions of other academic fields. You should type your text on a standard 8.5 inches X 11 inches white paper.

  • The APA recommends that every text must be typed with a font that is easy to read.
  • They recommend using font size 12 and Times New Roman.
  • They require double spacing to be applied on the title page and the entire document.
  • The standard stipulates that the margin on the text must be 1 inch on all the sides of the paper.
  • The writer must set the paragraph indentation to one and a half-inch from the left side of the paper
  • The page should have a specific page header that consists of the running head, the page numbers, typed in capital letters.
  • The entire title of the paper must be typed in capital letters
  • The running head introduction of the paper should take the author and readers back to the central ideal of the research work.

The APA Format for a Research Paper

Title/Front Page

Every academic research paper that is not within the rules of MLA must begin with a title page. The APA pays attention to the format layout of the front page of your research paper. These requirements are simple, but a writer must strictly follow the rules in an APA research paper. You should locate the title research work at the Centre of the title page

Though a writer can use many words and characters as necessary, the APA recommends that the number of words should not be more than 12, this is to ensure the elimination of irrelevant information.

Every word on the title page must have double spacing. The author’s name must be written just below the title of the page. The title of the author, such as Ph.D., M.Sc., must be written after the first and last names of the author.

The name of the university that you are writing from must be written on the front page of the document.

The running head should have the short name of the research title and must be written in capital letters. And then the heading of the front page must include the words “Running Head”, and a colon and a short title must follow this.

These APA rules may seem straightforward enough, but the writer must be careful to maintain every inch of it.


The APA recommends that every academic research paper must include an abstract page. The abstract page is essential for the following reasons:

  • It introduces the central idea of the page at first glance;
  • It summarizes the research work of the author briefly;
  • It gives a clear definition of any ambiguous definition and terminology that confuse the reader;
  • With the abstract page, readers can quickly locate your research paper and get a first glance overview of the entire research work.


The APA standard stipulates that text in the body of your research paper can have as many paragraphs as the topic demands. The first paragraph in the body of your research work must begin with the name of the research survey. The APA recommends that this name must not be written in italics or underlined. To identify every section of the paragraph, you are required that the author should use a bold font to write the heading of every paragraph of the article.

Citation and References

In the APA format, the quotes in the body of the research paper are essential, and they are usually covered in parenthesis with the name of the cited author and the year of publication. The information you have in your citations must correspond with what you have written in the reference section of the research paper.

According to the APA, the reference page of your research paper must be arranged in the following way:

  • The writer must indent the references one and a half-inch from the left side of the article.
  • The style of the reference should be such that it is written alphabetically by the last name of the author. The writer usually writes the last name in full and include the initial of the first name.
  • After writing the author’s name, the writer must write the year in which the cited work was published. This must be written in parenthesis.

The next thing to write is the name of the cited work. The writer must include the page number or the volume of the cited work in parenthesis.
And then, the writer should include the origin of the work. For example, if it is a webpage, the writer must indicate this.


The APA provides numerous standards that academic paper writers must follow strictly. Following these rules will make your research paper appealing and accurate. It may require a lot of effort to comply, but it surely helps the writer to pass his message across to the reader without any form of miscommunication. Additionally, the APA takes the issue of academic truthfulness very seriously. Therefore, the writer is required to cite the work of other people properly and where it is needed.