What Is A Research Paper In The APA Format And How To Write It


When writing a research paper in psychology or social sciences, one may wonder “what is APA format and how do I write it?” APA format is the official writing style of the American Psychology Association. The first time you attempt to use this format, it will be quite a bit different than what you are used to. It can take some time to get a grasp of how to write an APA paper, but it is a very useful tool to have.

Generally, you will have four main sections: title page, abstract, the main body and references.

  • Title Page
  • This will be the first page of your paper. The title page should contain the article title, author’s name, author’s school affiliation, running heading that should be in the upper left-hand corner of each page, and page number. It is suggested that your title is no more than 12 words long.

  • Abstract
  • The abstract is a brief narrative of your paper that will follow your title page. Your abstract should contain no more than 200 words. It should be short, but thorough, giving the reader a quick overview of what your paper is about. Although it is at the beginning of your paper, you will want to put off writing it until the end.

  • The Main Body
  • This is where the essay itself will be placed. If you are writing a lab report it will be divided into the following sections: introduction, method, results and discussion sections. All of these sections will be contained in the main body.

  • References
  • This section is where you will include all sources that you used for your research. Make sure your references begin on a new page, are in alphabetical order and written in italics. The reference section must be double spaced. Any item that appears on your reference page must also be included in the text of your article.

This format is different from the traditional style of writing that has been drilled into our heads, but it is a must-learn for anyone writing a psychology paper. It is likely to be used throughout your college career and beyond. As time goes on, you will become more familiar with the rules and format. If you so choose, you may purchase the official Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association to learn more about APA formatting.