Formatting a Research Paper in APA Style
The International Institute for Restorative Practices Graduate School uses the most recent version of APA writing and citation style, the most widely-used scholarly writing format in the social sciences for coursework and research.
- Font: Times New Roman, 12 point.
- Page margins: One inch from top, bottom, left and right side of each page.
Body text line spacing: Double-spaced.
- Paragraph indentation: Indent the first line of each paragraph by one-half inch from the left margin. (Use your word processor’s Help feature for instructions on formatting paragraph indentation.)
- Use two spaces after the period at the end of a sentence.
- All text is left-justified, with an unjustified (ragged) right margin.
- Do not hyphenate words at the ends of lines.
- Use a running head throughout the paper (see examples on pages 5 and 6). (If possible, use your word processor’s Header function to place it automatically on every page.) The header should appear one-half inch below the top of the page, flush left, in all capital letters; it is a shortened version of the paper’s title (up to 50 characters, including spaces). The page number appears in the upper right corner.
- On the cover sheet (first page), the words “Running head:” (in caps/lower case) precede the running head title (in upper case). On subsequent pages, the words “Running head:” are not used; only the actual running head title appears (in upper case). (Consult your word processor’s Help feature for instructions on setting up different headers on the first and subsequent pages of your document.)
- The title of your paper is typed in caps/lowercase letters (also known as title case), centered on the page. If the title requires more than one line, double-space between lines.
- Cover sheet: Other than the running head, only three things should appear:
1. Sample title page
2. Sample abstract page
(Note: Only include an abstract for research-based papers, or it your instructor requests it. Place it on its own page between the title page and the first page of the paper.)
3. Sample title page
4. Sample reference page
5. Formatting a Reference Page
The reference page is an alphabetical list of works cited. Here are some general tips:
- The reference list begins on a separate page.
- Center the word “References” at the top of the page. Do not use underlining, boldface or italics.
- Double-space all reference entries with one double space separating each entry.
- The first line of each entry is typed flush with the left-hand margin. Any subsequent lines are indented one-half inch. Use the “hanging indent” formatting tool in your word processor to ensure proper formatting .
Listing works on a References page
- Begin with the author’s last name and first initial(s), if the author is identified. In the case of multiple authors, list them in the order indicated in the source document.
- Alphabetize the reference list by the last name of the author or editor. If there is no author or editor, alphabetize by the first significant word of the title (omitting the initial articles A, An and The).
- Place date of publication in parentheses immediately after the author’s name, followed by a period.
- Italicize titles and subtitles of books, and periodical titles. Do not italicize titles of articles.
- Capitalize only the first word of the title (as well as all proper nouns), plus the first word of a subtitle.
- Do not place titles of articles in quotation marks.
- Use the abbreviations “p.” or “pp.” before page numbers of newspaper articles and works in anthologies; do not use them before page numbers of articles appearing in magazines and scholarly journals.
- All references must be formatted with a hanging indent of one-half inch from the left for the second and all subsequent lines of the reference.
- For author names, separate initials with a single space: Smith, A. B. not Smith A.B. For multiple authors, separate each name with a comma: Worthing, E. J., & Moncrieff, A.
- For books with subtitles, capitalized only the first word of the title, the first word of the subtitle following the colon, and proper nouns.
- For publisher locations, include city and state/province (abbreviated if in United States of America or Canada); otherwise, include city and country (spelled out).
- If publication elements are omitted from the original document (publisher location, etc.), include missing information (as much as possible) in brackets: Piper’s Press [Pipersville, PA]. In some cases, other publication elements (author name, date, etc.) may be missing altogether. See “How to write an APA style reference when information is missing” on page 26, or contact the IIRP Library for assistance.
- The EBSCOhost research databases (available via the IIRP Student and Faculty Portals) provide a tool for formatting bibliographic references in APA style. If you choose to use this feature, be sure to examine your references for stylistic accuracy prior to submitting your writing assignment to your instructor, since errors can occur occasionally.
In this section, numbers following each heading refer to corresponding sections in the APA Publication Manual, 6th edition. Please see these sections for additional guidance.
Moodle discussion forums
Because Moodle discussion threads are password-protected and not accessible to non participants of the group, they are treated as personal communications. Use the last name of the contributor, unit number of the course schedule, and title of the discussion thread
Moodle discussions can only be listed as in-text citations; they are not included in Reference pages.
Personal communications can consist of printed, verbal or digital communications between individuals (private letters, email messages, personal interviews, conversations, private social media exchanges, etc.).
Since they are inaccessible to readers outside the parties involved, they not considered “recoverable” or “retrievable.” Therefore, do not include them in reference lists. Instead, cite them in text only, with as much information to identify the source and date as possible:
When information is missing …
Occasionally, you may need to cite a source in which one or more publication elements are absent. In such cases, use the guidelines and formats provided in the table on the following page.
Citing Quotations within A Paper
In-text citations – Exact quotations
When quoting an author’s exact words, include an in-text citation with the author’s last name, publication year, and page number(s) from which the quotation is taken in the appropriate point in the text. In most cases, citations point the reader to more detailed source publication information in the References page.
▪ Short quotations (under 40 words) are incorporated into the text and enclosed by double quotation marks.
In considering the matter of campus security, it is important to remember that “safe learning environments ultimately require more than violence prevention programs; mechanisms for conflict resolution must also be available” (Anderson, 2004, p. 76).
▪ Long quotations (40 words or longer) are typed in a double-spaced block, indented one half inch from the left margin. Omit quotation marks.
My suspicion is that criminology to some extent has amplified a process conflicts have been taken away from the parties directly involved and thereby have either disappeared or become other people’s property. In both cases a deplorable outcome. Conflicts ought to be used, not only left in erosion. And they ought to be used, and become useful, for those originally involved in the conflict. Conflicts might hurt individuals as well as social systems. That is what we learn in school. That is why we have officials. Without them, private vengeance and vendettas will blossom. We have learned this so solidly that we have lost track of the other side of the coin: our industrialised large-scale society is not one with too many internal conflicts. It is one with too little. Conflicts might kill, but too little of them might paralyse.
▪ If you have a quote within a short (under 40 words) quote, enclose it in single quotation marks.
Nathanson (1992) reminds us of the influence of cultural context on affects. “Each role or cultural stereotype involves a different pattern of affects damped or magnified – what Tomkins calls ‘the differential magnification of innate affect’” (p. 83).
▪ If you have a quote within a block quotation, enclose it in double quotation marks.
Some few juvenile court judges are rejecting referrals of emotionally disturbed children who behave precisely as they are expected to behave. One juvenile court judge in central Pennsylvania chastised a school district for referring a fourteen year-old girl with serious emotional problems to juvenile court for making threats to a teacher. The court dismissed the case, which should have been handled through the student’s IEP. The court wrote, “While this decision is not intended to
effectively cut off all access to the criminal court system by school authorities, the instances where it is appropriate should be rare indeed.” (Schwartz & Reiser, 2001, pp. 112-113)
▪ Ellipsis points ( . . . ) are used to indicate material omitted from a quotation. A mid sentence ellipsis consists of three consecutive spaced periods. Use four points to indicate any omission between sentences.
I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately . . . education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. (Wilde, p. 80)
In-text quotations – Paraphrasing concepts
Works by a single author
If the author is mentioned in the course of a sentence when paraphrasing their idea, give the publication year in parentheses just after the name:
Morrison (2007) reviewed the statistical evidence of the efficacy of restorative justice programs in middle and high schools.
If the author is not mentioned in this way, place the author’s last name and publication year at the end of the quotation or paraphrase:
A review of middle- and high school restorative justice programs showed a significant decline in student-initiated offenses (Morrison, 2007).
For exact quotations, include the specific page number(s) after the publication year:
Purely reactive, short-term responses are woefully inadequate for addressing the problem of bullying. “The problem of bullying has hidden costs, across a lifetime, for individuals and society” (Morrison, 2007, p. 4).
(Note the position of the sentence-ending period in relation to other punctuation.)
Works by multiple authors
When a work has two authors, cite both names every time the reference occurs in the text. Worthing and Moncrieff (2011) discuss shifting perceptions of adoption versus biological birth in the context of children’s sense personal identity.
IIRP Graduate School Writing & APA Style Guidelines Rev.
If a work has three or more authors, cite all names in the first reference; in subsequent citations, give only the first author’s name with et al. (followed by a period):
Bracknell, Moncrieff and Worthing (2008) advance the controversial view that most present-day models of public education are fundamentally unsound.
Bracknell et al. (2008) assert that over-education of youth may lead to acts of violence.
Citing Moodle discussion forums
Use the last name of the contributor (poster), the unit number of the course schedule and the title of the discussion thread.
Note: Because Moodle discussion threads are only accessible to participants of a particular forum, they are not “retrievable” by other researchers, and are thus considered as personal communications. Therefore, include Moodle discussion citations only as in-text citations; do not include them in your References page.
Using Headings Within a Paper
APA style uses five levels of heading to indicate hierarchies or top-down progression of information.
Use the formats illustrated below to label sections of text in your paper; do not label headings with numbers or letters.
|1 Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading|
|2 Flush Left, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading|
|3 Indented, boldface, lowercase paragraph heading ending in a period.|
|4 Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending in a period.|
|5 Indented, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period.|
Naming your Computer Files
Since most student papers and projects are submitted to faculty electronically, the IIRP Graduate School uses these conventions for naming word processing documents, videos, slideshow files, etc.
- Name your file with your surname followed by the course number (and section number when applicable), with no separating spaces:
- Occasionally, instructors ask you to indicate the type of paper and/or your course unit/week number in parentheses after your name and course number. In this case, label your file with all information without spaces:
Your instructor might ask for assignment files to be named in a slightly different format than those above.