As an author, you know the importance of avoiding plagiarism claims by properly citing references within your research documents, and you are also aware of possible setbacks and/or rejection by not adhering to the publisher’s guidelines. Of all the popular formatting styles, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago, among them, APA is the most popular formatting style used by publishers. However, the style often changes, and guidelines on APA websites will often vary, making it a challenge to properly cite information, especially when facing a strict deadline or a busy schedule. As such, one of the most asked questions by authors is, “How do I format my document in APA?” There are many tools online to help authors format their documents, but many still face incomplete citations when using these tools.
Whether it is proper headings and subheading levels or the struggle of adhering to the in-text citation rules, there are several potential issues in formatting APA style when relying on yourself or an automated tool. Fortunately, there are many professional copy-editing services that specialize in APA formatting as well as the other popular formats, including eContent Pro International. With all of the nuances and attention to detail it takes to properly format an academic style, it is often best to let a professional format your document to ensure the proper style is being represented to avoid any publication delays. To help authors like yourself, we have listed the key guidelines on how to properly format your document in APA utilizing the most recent edition below.
General Formatting Rules
APA 7th edition has a few general formatting rules that are crucial to follow. For starters, documents following APA should be double-spaced with a page header on every page. APA does not specify a required font style, but they do recommend using one, consistent font throughout the document. Some of the recommended fonts are:
- 11-point Calibri
- 11-point Arial
- 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode
- 12-point Times New Roman
- 11-point Georgia
- 10-point Computer Modern
When formatting your document in APA, you must include four major sections: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
- Title Page Requirements: Title of document (in bold), author’s name and institution affiliation, and an author’s note.
- Abstract Requirements: Starting on a new page, a single paragraph containing no more than 250 words. Also, be sure to include your Keywords one line under the Abstract.
- Main Body Requirements: An author’s research will be fully explained in the main body. The formatting concerns in the main body are the headings and in-text citations, which we discuss below.
- References Requirements: This is the last section of your document with a full citation for each of your references cited within your main body. This will be a separate page, and we discuss the specific guidelines for this section below.
Main Body Headings
In order to have your submission stand out, properly following the required format is appreciated. APA has five level headings that authors must follow in their writing. Here are explanations of all five headings:
- Level 1: The heading is centered and boldfaced. The text following the heading starts a new paragraph.
- Level 2: The heading is flush left and bold. The text following the heading starts a new paragraph.
- Level 3: The heading is flush left, bold, and italicized. The text following the heading starts a new paragraph.
- Level 4: The heading is indented, bold, and the title of the heading ends with a period. The text following the heading continues on the same line, matching the consistent font style of the document.
- Level 5: The heading is indented, bold, italicized, and the title of the heading ends with a period. The text following the heading continues on the same line, matching the consistent font style of the document.
Properly citing information can be the difference between your paper being accused of plagiarism or not. That is why it is important to make sure you are including the required information in your in-text citations. Each format has different requirements of what should be included an in-text citation, though APA 7th edition is straight forward. Here are some rules and examples:
- For an in-text citation paraphrasing information following APA style, you must include the author’s last name and year of publication for the source. Example: (Smith, 2020).
- If you are using a direct quote, you must also include the page numbers. Example: (Smith, 2020, pp. 45-47).
- If you refer to the title of the source within your paper, capitalize all words that are four letters long or greater. Example: APA 7th Edition Formatting Guide
- If the title of the source is italicized in your reference list, also italicize it in your main body. Example: APA 7th Edition Formatting Guide
- If the title of the source is not italicized in your reference list, use double quotation marks. Example: “APA 7th Edition Formatting Guide”
The most difficult part of adhering to a formatting style is creating the reference list. The reference list is a grouping of all your sources of information with full citations for each. Authors must pay close attention to detail when creating their reference list to ensure they have included all required information within the APA style. The reference list will start a separate page at the end of your document following these rules:
- All lines after the first line of each reference should be a hanging indention
- Your reference list will be in alphabetical order by the author’s last name of each source
- When including author names, they should appear as Last Name, First and Middle initial (if applicable). Example: (Smith, C. E.)
- Note: In APA 7th edition, you must list all authors of your source up to and including 20 authors
- For most sources, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of the title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns
- The previous rule applies unless you are referencing academic journals. You must capitalize all major words in an academic journal title and italicize the entire title.
- Italicize titles of longer works (e.g., books, edited collections, newspapers, journals, etc.).
After following these rules, your references will be formatted as the following:
- Author’s Last Name, Author’s First Initial. Author’s Middle Initial. (Publication Year). Title of article or chapter. Title of Source (pages of chapter). Publisher Name. DOI URL.
The above guidelines are just the start to fully understanding APA style and the other formatting guidelines that are utilized throughout scholarly publishing. Due to the challenges of formatting papers in APA and to assist scholars in easily implementing and following publisher guidelines, eContent Pro International offers affordable, high-quality Copy Editing & Proofreading services. Our team of professional, native-English-speaking editors have helped thousands of authors correct any faulty spelling, grammar, punctuation, flow, and much more in addition to formatting their documents to adhere to APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA, AMA style, and others. Avoid unnecessary surcharges and/or conditional acceptances from standard and Open Access publishers by submitting professionally copy-edited work with a certification from a professional. Whether you are faced with a quick turnaround time or in need of a proof of copy-editing certificate, utilizing our high-quality, affordable, and expeditious copy editing and proofreading services on your manuscript can increase the chance of being accepted in a publication of your choice in the shortest amount of time.
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