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Wrangling Research, APA Style

Author: Meghan Hatalla

What's the point of APA style?

American Psychological Association (APA) style

is the most commonly-used citation style within the social sciences. Most writing assignments are either:

  • Reviews of someone else's research
  • Reports of original research (usually includes a literature review, which adds context to the original research with previous research)

In either case, the  main challenges students face when required to use outside sources are:

  • Supporting a thesis
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Integrating quotations with source material

This lesson will provide resources to online resources for APA style, as well as supply examples for APA formatting and citations.

Step 1: Formatting Your Document

This quick video tells you exactly how to incorporate the MS Word template of APA formatting. Download templates from Microsoft here:

If You Don't Have MS Word 2007...

Below are the steps to manually create a defined style in any earlier versions of Microsoft Word. Steps vary according to version:


    1. Open a blank document
    2. Navigate to Page Layout
    3. Check the box next to Different First Page
    4. Navigate to Insert -->Section Break (Next Page)
    5. Scroll back to first page and click anywhere on the page
    6. Navigate back toPage Layout
    7. Under Vertical Alignment, select Center
    8. Next to Apply to:  select This Section
    9. Click OK
    10. Set font to Tiimes New Roman or Arial
    11. Set Alignment to Center
    12. Type the title of the document on the first line, date on the second line, and the class or professors name on the third line
    13. Scroll to second page 
    14. Double click the Header area at the top of the page
    15. Click Insert
    16. Select Page Numbers  and select the appropriate option for page number to appear in the upper right hand corner of the page
    17. Click OK
    18. Place cursor in front of page number and make 5 spaces, then type the first 3-4 words of the document title
    19. Navigate to Margins
    20. Set the margins to 1 inch for Top, Bottom and Left and Right
    21. Click OK
    22. Place cursor on the first line of the second page
    23. Navigate to Paragraph
    24. Under Line Spacing, select Double
    25. Click OK
    26. Double-click the 0.5 inches point in the ruler to create a tab
    27. Push TAB one time to begin typing
    28. Navigate to Change Styles and click Set As Default


    For more extensive guidance on how to format abstracts, visuals, etc. check out Bedford/St. Martin's guide on APA formatting.

    Step 2: Connecting Formatting With Attribution

    Used with permission of the Purdue OWL, this slide presentation runs briefly through formatting but focuses mostly on citations, reference pages and other methods of attribution.

    Other Resources