Guide to writing a graduate paper - APA format style

When you enter graduate college or university, you soon realize that writing good stuff is not the only thing needed for the academic writing assignments, you are also required to follow certain formatting and citation style. One of the most common and widely used citation styles is the American Psychological Association (APA) style. It is a standard formatting style for research in the field of psychology, however, it is also pervasively used for research in other science subjects.

Are you majoring in psychology? Even If you are studying psychology, it is most likely that your professor would ask you to write your college essay or graduate paper according to the guidelines of APA citation style. Your APA research paper would follow all the guidelines that are mentioned in the handbook of the APA citation style. To write an effective graduate paper, your paper must be strictly following all the guidelines throughout the paper. Starting from the cover page to the end of the references page, everything should be formatted according to APA rules.

Does writing an APA paper give you a headache? If writing a graduate paper in APA format is really troubling you, you should know that it is not the citation guidelines that are giving you the headache but the writing process of the research paper. Therefore, if you are facing any difficulties in writing a research paper, you should consider hiring a professional essay writer from an online essay writing service, to write your APA paper. Hiring a professional does not mean that you won’t have to learn the rules of the APA citation and formatting style. You will have to learn it and write various assignments, therefore, it is necessary that you learn it if you are planning on passing your course.

If you make your mind to learn the formatting rules of APA, you should know that you can easily do this by taking things step by step. In this article, we will do exactly the same, we will take one step at a moment, ensuring that we are strictly following the guidelines, without complicating the process. Let’s look at the general guidelines before diving into the step by step process of creating an APA research paper.

General rules of APA format

  • You should use Times New Roman throughout your paper, with font size 12pt.
  • The whole text of your paper should be double spaced.
  • There should be an indent of about half an inch at the beginning of the first line of every new paragraph.
  • You should ensure that there is a margin of an inch on all four sides of the paper.

Running head

For APA sixth edition, you are supposed to add a running head in the header of every page. you have to include the title of your research paper and the page number in the header. In case of the title being lengthier than fifty characters, you should shorten it before placing it in the running head. The page number is flushed right while the title is flushed left.

For students who hate to add a running head, there is good news. According to the seventh edition, running head is only required for papers being submitted for publication. Students are exempted from adding a running head in their research papers.

Headings and subheadings

APA style directs an essay writer to use headings and subheadings throughout his paper to increase the readability of the research paper. However, you must follow specific guidelines to make sure that you do not make your paper more complicated by making it difficult to differentiate between various levels of headings. Both first and second level headings are written in bold and use title case capitalization. However, the first heading is centered while the second is flushed left. Heading three is also in bold but uses sentence case capitalization and is also indented. Level four heading has the same guidelines except that it is in italics.

Sections of an APA paper

The structure of different APA papers may vary depending on the instruction given by the supervisor. However, every APA research paper would have the following main sections:

Title Page or cover page

It is the first page of every APA research paper. You have to provide the title of the paper within ten to twelve words. It should have the following information in the following order:

  • Around halfway down the top of the page, you should provide the title of your APA research paper. Every first alphabet of all words except prepositions should be in the capital.
  • In the following line, the names of all the authors are stated without their titles and degrees.
  • And in the next line, the name of the organization or institution (college/university) is provided.

All the text on the cover page is double spaced like the rest of the paper. Moreover, all text on the cover page is centrally aligned.


In the abstract, you provide a brief summary of your research paper, within 150 to 250 words. The abstract section is provided on the page next to the title page. You should know that abstract was only compulsory according to the sixth edition. According to the seventh edition of APA style, an abstract is no more a compulsory part of APA research paper and students only have to provide it if specifically asked by their instructors.


The body of your research paper appears after the abstract section. Its length varies depending on the type of paper. However, usually, a body contains an introduction, discussion, and a conclusion. However, before you begin writing your paper, you should discuss the body part with your instructor.

Reference section

It appears at the end of the body of your research paper. On this page, you enlist all the sources that you used throughout the research paper. Remember, every source that you have cited in your paper, must be enlisted on the reference page. It is titled “References.”

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