APA Made Simple

How to Use APA Correctly










1. Title Page

Your title page information will be centered horizontally and just above the vertical center of the page. The first line will contain the title of your paper (in capital letters), the second contains the names of the authors, and the third is the institutional affiliation (in our case, the George Washington University). All of this information, like the rest of your document, should be double spaced in Times New Roman. It should read like this: 
J.Clark Gardner
The George Washington University

2. Header

Each page in your document will have the same header. Put the title of your document on the top left in all capitol letters. Insert the page number on the top right. The third page, for example, would look like this:

                               TITLE OF DOCUMENT                                                     3

Your header will be the same on your title page, except you must include the words "Running Header" before the title. So it will look like this:

                                Running Header: TITLE OF DOCUMENT                         1

3. Headlines and Subheads

Sometimes your document may require headers and subheads to help break up the presentation of information. There are five heading levels in APA, and they are formatted as follows:
[this table courtesy Purdue's OWL]

4. Citing Sources

It is easy to cite your sources within the text of your document. Whether you are citing a direct quote or simply summarizing/paraphrasing another person's idea, you simply include the the last name(s) of the author(s), and the year of publication in parentheses, separated by a comma. Like this:
Batman was created after a request to DC Comics' writers to create more superhero titles (Daniels, 1999). Bob Kane came up with the original idea, and approached collaborator Bill Finger with some sketches. Batman did not have his signature pointy-eared suit yet, but instead donned "a small domino mask, like the one Robin later wore" (Kane, 1989).

5. References Page

This is the point in the document where most ETL students end up banging their heads against their computers in fits of rage and despair. But it doesn't have to bring you within an inch of your sanity. Just follow a few simple rules and you'll be able to take care of most of your references without much trouble.

First, simply center the word "References" at the top of your page. Then cite each reference in the following fashion:
First comes the last name of the author, followed by her first initial and a period. If her middle initial is available, include that followed by another period. Then comes the date of the publication in parentheses, followed by a period. After that comes the title, in italics (note that you only capitalize the first letter). Follow that with a period. Next, the location of publication (followed by a colon) and then the publisher, followed by a final period.

Here's another example:
This reference shows you how to list more than one author (with a comma and ampersand). Also take note that you capitalize the first letter of a subheading.
NOTE: As you have probably discovered, there are countless possible variables and contingencies for references (How do I cite a website? A blog? What if there is no author? What if there are six authors?). Purdue's Owl and Son of Citation Machine are both great tools to help you with tricky reference citations.

© J. Clark Gardner    |   jclarkgardner@gmail.com   |   Last updated May 2011