Master APA Citations in No Time

There are few guidelines used with more rigor and compliance across a broad range of fields than APA style.

The set of rules and guidelines created by the American Psychological Association (APA) continues to be the gold standard for publication around the world. The APA, which is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States today, first developed APA style over 80 years ago when a group of psychologists, anthropologists and business people wanted to simplify the work of editors and readers in reading and understanding content.

Today, APA style is used in fields as varied as psychology, sociology, economics, business and nursing. Current rules for APA style are published in the manual, which is currently on its sixth edition.

As a new psychology student, the importance of understanding and using APA style will become obvious. Many of your professors will expect you to have an understanding of how to use APA style in your work. Once you learn the basics mastering APA format is easy. This guide will equip you with an understanding of the basics, and the best resources to master APA style.

The Basics

All research in APA style should be typed, double-spaced on the standard 8.5′ x 11′ paper with 1′ margins on all sides in Times New Roman font. For each paper you will need to create a title that will be displayed in the page header at the top of every page in your work. Page numbers should be formatted flush to the right side of each page and your title should be in all capital letters.

According to APA style a good title is 12 words or less, and it should be clear and concise without the use of abbreviations. The title should be less than 50 characters including punctuation.

Title Page

The title page should include the title of your paper, the author’s name and the institution you are affiliated with. Don’t forget to include a page number beginning on the title page flush left to the page. Following the title page, the header will only include the title in all capital letters flush left to the page with page numbers flush to the right of the page.

The title page will also need a title in the upper half of the page, and directly below that type will be the author’s name, middle initials and last name. Beneath the name should be the institutional affiliation and the location where the research was conducted.

The title page may include an author’s note, which is usually an option for students writing class papers, theses and dissertations. Ask your professor about preferences. If there is more than one author for the paper, the note can include contact information, details on departments and affiliations for different authors, acknowledgements and financial support. Look at an example of a title page here.


Following the title page is the abstract. This page should include the page header; on the first line, the word abstract should appear centered in the document. The abstract is important because it provides a concise clear summary detailing the key points of the research, including topic, research questions, methods, participants, results, data analysis and conclusions as well as any possible implication of the work and corresponding work to be done in the future.

The abstract should be one paragraph between 150 and 250 words. APA style suggests including italicized keywords in your abstract to help readers find your work in databases, which may or may not be relevant for students.

Citations and References

Citations are a major part of APA style. As you begin your research and start to acquire a list of sources begin crafting a reference list. Each source you use for research must be included in this reference list, and each source on your reference list must be cited somewhere in the text of your document. References are important because it allows readers to locate any source that you use in order to get more information.

Pay close attention to the specific formatting guidelines for both the reference list and citations. APA style varies depending on whether the source is a book, periodical, journal, newspaper and electronic source.

Footnotes and Endnotes

Footnotes and endnotes are often used to provide supplemental information and clarification, or it is used to direct the reader to other sources of information. APA style recommends limited use of these notes because it is often expensive for publishers to print. Ask your professor about preferences. Use this guide for more information and formatting.

Additional Resources

The APA has a free tutorial on the basics of APA style. There is also an APA blog written by experts in the field who are working with the APA daily to publish weekly stories related to writing and publishing in APA style. Browse current posts and the archives to read more about citations, grammar, the publication process and social media related to APA style. The Cornell University Library also has a useful guide on APA style, and examples for how to format your paper, citations and reference list.

One of the best resources on APA style is the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL). This guide gives you detailed explanations and examples for everything related to APA style.