How to Write an APA Paper

Many college students often have questions on how to write an APA paper. This will be the place to help you with that task! Use this website to learn how to write and APA paper.

How to write an APA Style paper
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First, when you are writing an APA style paper it is important to remember all of the same basic writing principles exist. Here are some tips for writing an APA style paper:

  • Be clear, concise, and direct. Get to the point, sometimes less is more.
  • Use supporting evidence, only credible sources. Using search engines like (Ebscohost or Proquest) is the best starting point. Check with your instructor for what is an acceptable source as this will vary in the class and type of assignment. Many instructors only want sources from Academic, peer-reviewed journals. Others will be fine with textbooks, newspapers, websites, and even blogs. If you are unsure about the credibility of a source, don’t use it, or check with an instructor. Your paper should be a synthesis and analysis of other people’s ideas.
  • CITE! CITE! CITE! You should be using other people’s research and writings in your paper, you must give them credit for it! If you fail to cite correctly it could be plagiarism and have monumental consequences. Just give credit for their ideas, that is what good research is.
  • Find a topic you are actually interested in. Depending on your paper requirements, this may be difficult. The more interest you have, the better your paper will end up.
  • Pick a broad topic and then narrow it down as you research. Starting too narrow can be difficult, limiting, and constraining.
  • Start with an outline. Just like in many of your other writing classes, an outline is a great place to begin. Depending on the length of your paper, adjust your outline accordingly. Place any references you have in your outline to help with organization.
    • Use Headings and Sub-headings. After making an outline take your primary points and make those into the headings, which are a big part of APA style writing.  A primary heading is basically a major point in your paper, a subheading is used for something that is not big enough to be it’s own section and relates to the primary heading. Every paper will have different headings based on the content, most will end with “Conclusion.” Primary headings are bold and centered with the important words capitalized. Whereas a secondary heading is in bold, but left justified with the same capitalizing.
  • Use a citation generator. MS Word does a great job of organizing references a paper. At the top menu click, “References.” Select APA. Then click, “Manage Sources.” You will be prompted to enter all the different types of sources. Things like the citation machine and easy bib can also be helpful. Pro Quest and Ebschost also offer an option for a citation on the right side of the source, however, often these aren’t great. MS Word is a great and easy way to get citations clean.
    • Make sure to select the appropriate source type. Enter the required fields, as many as you have. Different source types have different requirements.
    • If you using MS word, just click insert citation for an in-text citation.
    • Click “Bibliography” and MS will create it for. Choose the second one down that says, “References.”
    • If using a source and just summarizing you need the author’s last name and year (Mikita, 2018).
    • If using a direct quote, put quotation marks followed by author, year, and page number (Mikita, Smith, & Mackey,  2017, p. 42).
    • Punctuation goes after the parenthesis. 
  • Write your abstract after writing your paper.  It is much easier than doing it in the reverse. Writing an abstract after writing a paper will take two minutes!
  • If unsure about formatting consult your APA Publication Manual for specifics or use a resource like The Purdue Owl.

I highly recommend downloading this file How to Write an APA Paper and using it as a template. Open it up and make changes but keep the format the same.  It will help you with many of the structural, format, or technical questions.

Remember, don’t go crazy! You will get through it, just pay attention to detail.