How To Write An Essay In The APA Style: Basic Instructions

Before you start writing your essay, you need to know which format is required by your teacher. A format or style determines technical details (margins, typeface, and spacing) as well as a specific way of organizing your paper and providing references to the used sources. If you’re writing your paper in social sciences and psychology, then it’s most likely you’ll have to write it using the style recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA).

  • Know the basic requirements.
  • The two pillars of this format are the stipulations of using the past (present perfect) tense and a special emphasis on the date a cited work was published. The first requirement can be explained by the fact that you cite already published and recognized works of other scholars whose ideas has been proven and accepted. However, if you express your own ideas or summarize the information, stick to the present tense. The second basic rule demands that you place the year of publication in the physical text right after the referenced source.

  • Cite properly.
  • Citation is an essential part of your paper because it prevents you from any possible accusations of plagiarism. You should provide references to any quoted material right in the text and on the reference page. If you use a direct quotation, remember the appropriate punctuation. Always paraphrase the original author’s words, adjusting them to your own style; rearranging words isn’t enough. According to the APA writing format, you should use the author-date quotation system. There are different citation methods in this system. If you use the author’s name in your paraphrased sentence, you should insert only the year of publication. If you don’t mention the author’s surname in the text, write it in the parentheses along with the publication date.

  • Stick to the paper structure.
  • There should be four main parts in your essay: the title page, abstract, body, and references. The essential elements of the title page are the title of your essay, your name, and your institutional affiliation (in some cases your city or state). There should also be a running head featuring your title. Your abstract is a summary of your paper written after your title page. It should be clear and concise and contain no more than 250 words. Page 3 is the first page of your main body. The reference page lists all the sources you referred to in your paper. The references should be organized by the author’s last name in alphabetical order.

For more details and the most recent formatting rules, consult the latest edition of the APA manual.


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