General Guidelines of APA Essay Format (7th Edition)

  • Eduhelphub,
  • Jul 10, 2023

Looking closely at reality, writing papers is not just limited to constructive and innovative ideas, but also to appropriately organize them. This presentation is based on different referencing styles, one of which is called the APA format. Now how to write an APA essay format paper is what we are going to learn in this article crafted by experts of our essay writing service. We are going to follow the rules and tips provided in the 7th edition of the APA publication manual.

What is an APA Essay Format

Whether you are pursuing a degree in Psychology, Business Studies, Education, or different parts of Social Sciences, every time you are preparing an assignment, the chances are, you have to apply the APA essay format rules. It is preferred the most in these disciplines, if and otherwise anything else is instructed by the university. The formatting rules are specified by the American Psychological Association which are all very distinct from MLA, Chicago, Harvard, Vancouver, CSE, and other writing styles in terms of clear communication, referencing sources, and formatting texts and documents.

The 7th edition of APA allows you to list upto 20 authors and has some specific rules to use punctuation. It also specifies the order of pages distinctively, along with respective structural guidelines. It includes font styles, margins, spacing, and miscellaneous dos and don’ts.

By strictly adhering to the guidelines of APA essay format, you are demonstrating your knowledge of the citation style, as well as your discipline. This way, the readers get a direction of the paper which gives them an idea of the contents in advance. Throughout this APA citation guide, a paper writer from our essay help service will delve into techniques for swiftly grasping and putting it into practice.

The Basic Rules of APA Essay Format

APA style is meant for both students who are writing assignments and for scholars who want to publish their manuscripts. The general rules can be set as a default in the Word document. If you are using MS Office 2013 or any upper version, just go to the Layout tab of MS Word and click on the Page Setup icon. You will be given the option to change the page margin and layout and set them all as default according to the defined rules of APA essay format. The same can be done when using Google Docs too. You can find the Page Setup option under the File tab.


You can select a font of your choice from multiple options available in the APA essay format. The font size of each is predetermined.

  • Sans-Serif fonts: Calibri (11 pt.), Arial (11 pt.), or Lucida Sans Unicode (10 pt.)
  • Serif fonts: Times New Roman (12 pt.), Georgia (11 pt.)

Among all, these are the only fonts that are widely available and look neat. Whichever font you decide will remain consistent throughout the main content of the paper. Whereas, the rules are slightly different for headings, headers, footers, and tables and figures. Keep reading to learn about them.


A 1-inch margin on all four sides is preferred particularly if writing a definition essay or other essays and short research papers. But when you are writing a dissertation or a long thesis, the left margin is set to 1.5 inches for binding purposes. It can perhaps vary if specified something else by the university.


Except for the cover page, tables, figures, footnotes, and displayed equations, all other parts of the APA essay format paper will be double-spaced. However, there is no additional space required in paragraphs. So, if you are typing your assignment in the Word document, go to the Line and Paragraph Spacing icon under the Home tab, and select the Remove Space After Paragraph option.

Page Header

The page header in APA essay format is positioned within the top margin and it appears on every page. In papers written by students for curriculum purposes, the header includes only page numbers at the top right corner. If papers are written for publishing purposes, the header consists of both running head and page numbers.

Running head is the title of the paper which is left aligned and written in all block letters. The length must not exceed 50 characters including spaces and punctuation. No abbreviation is used in the running head and it appears from the very first page of the paper.

Levels of Heading

Headings are used to make a paper of complex ideas look more legible. The APA essay format typically consists of five such section headings. Level 1 has the most emphasizing point which is followed by the corresponding subheadings starting from Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, and Level 5.

There is a certain way to write each of these headings:

  • The Level 1 heading is bold and center-aligned
  • The Level 2 subheading is bold and left-aligned
  • The Level 3 subheading is also bold and left-aligned but is also italicized
  • The Level 4 subheading is bold, indented, and is ended with a period
  • The Level 5 subheading is bold, indented, italicized, and also ends with a period

The text content underneath the first three headings is started as a new paragraph. Whereas, in Levels 4 and 5 the texts are continued in the same line of the heading. The common feature in all the levels of the headings is that each of them is written in the Title case.

An additional tip by APA essay format says that you must not begin your narrative essay or any other paper with “Introduction” as a heading. The first paragraph providing an introductory context is an obvious expression. Although, if you want to add a heading with the introduction section, then you can, unless it is truly necessary for your paper.

Paragraph Alignment and Indentation

Paragraphs are meant to ensure a consistent flow of ideas and enhance readability. To make them look more professional, APA essay format has fixed some writing standards.

  • Each paragraph should be left-aligned with ragged right ends. No need to use the justify alignment to make it look even on both sides. If the last word of a line is a big or conjoined word which is not fitting in the space, don’t use a break or hyphen after the first part of the word at the end of the line. Instead, write the complete word in the next line and continue the sentence from there. However, the opposite can be considered, if the breakage is caused automatically due to a part of a long hyperlink or DOI.
  • Press the Tab key once each time you begin a new paragraph in APA essay format. The indentation in the left margin of the first line of each paragraph is 0.5 inches more than the page margin. Since the paragraph spacing is kept inactive, the indentation explains the beginning of a new paragraph.

In-Text Citation

In academic writing, the authentication of information is determined by using the texts of existing research works of other authors. Even though each one of the sources is mentioned in the reference list, they are also supposed to be used as in-text citations.

APA 7 uses two types of in-text citation formats, namely parenthetical and narrative citations.

  • Parenthetical citations are used to give credit to the parent source when you are quoting or paraphrasing any information from that source. In APA essay format it includes the name of the author and date which is separated by a comma and appears at the end of the quoted information. It is written in brackets. For example –

When citing one author: (Kotler, 2016)

When citing two authors: (Ellis & Brown, 2017)

When citing more than two authors: (Jones et al., 2018)

When citing a group author: (University of Pittsburg, 2019)

  • When you are using the author’s name and the publication year in a through-text, it is called a narrative citation. For example –

According to Robbins (2012), the interpersonal skills of managers can help employees boost their productivity.

APA Essay Format Components

Apart from the above specified guidelines, APA 7 also has some definite rules to structure your paper. Students may need to use tables and other visuals in their argument other than the main text content of the paper. In that case, APA essay format instructs you to write your paper in the following order:

  1. Cover page
  2. Abstract
  3. Main body content
  4. References
  5. Footnotes
  6. Tables
  7. Figures
  8. Appendices

Cover Page

Suppose you are told to write a rhetorical analysis essay outline, how will you introduce your paper to your readers? This is what the cover page is for – the first thing readers come across. By reading this title page, the readers will know what paper they are going to uncover and who wrote it. Therefore, the details should be written with precision to make it look more professional. This is how the APA essay format arranges the cover page:

  • Page header
  • Title of the paper
  • Author’s name
  • Affiliation
  • Name and code of the course
  • Name of the instructor
  • Submission date

All elements are center-aligned except the header. The page title is written in bold font and is placed three to four lines down the top margin. If there is a sub-title, it is written as a separate line. Entering one double-space blank the name of the author is written followed by the rest of the details with normal gaps. When writing the affiliation, begin with the name of the department and then write the name of the academic institute with a comma in the middle. The course name is written after the course code which is separated by a colon. Lastly, you can follow two formats of writing dates – Month Date, Year or Date Month Year.


An abstract is a concise gist of the core paper which is written on a separate page. For a student, the maximum length of an abstract is 250 words which states the central idea and research problems of the paper with its objectives, methodology, and main interpretation.

According to the APA essay format, the word “Abstract” is written in the center of the line in bold style. The summary content, on the other hand, is written left-aligned in one single paragraph. No indentation is required in the first line.


No matter how long is an essay, if you are pursuing a higher degree, you will definitely require to use different sources to strengthen your argument. All these sources need to be cited explicitly, for which the APA essay format has made individual rules for all types of sources, be it a text, website, audio file, video guide, tables and charts, interviews, and many others. However, there are certain types of sources that are excluded from the APA 7 reference list, such as personal communications, common software, epigraphs, quotes from research participants, etc.

Although the citation pattern is more or less distinct from each source type, there are some common elements that are present in each one of them – last name of the author, publishing date, title of the work, and name of the source from when the information is retrieved. But primarily, the term “References” is written in bold at the beginning of the page which is center aligned. To learn the rest of the reference formatting details, you can surf through our blog articles or simply go to the official website of APA essay format.


In case you want to provide some additional information or give a copyright attribution, you can write it as footnotes. Just add a superscript number at the end of the clause and write the description either at the bottom of the respective page, or make a separate page after References. There are two options that you can choose from. Footnotes have a font size of 10 points.

APA essay format suggests that the description of the note should be written after single spacing the superscript number. Initially, all the footnotes should be single-spaced whether chosen to write at the bottom or on a different page. If you decide on the latter, write “Footnotes” at the top of the page and then write the notes in ascending order.

Tables and Figures

Tables as you know are mostly for showing calculations or classifications. Figures on the other hand, include graphical representations, charts, diagrams, maps, etc. Both tables and figures share some common APA essay format guidelines. You can embed them on the same page as the text content, either at the top or at the bottom. On a page, if there are multiple visuals then separate them by inserting blank double-spaced lines.

Another option is to embed each table followed by figures on separate pages. It will be sequenced after the reference page. In that situation, write the terms “Tables” and “Figures” at the top. While preparing the tables, make sure to not use vertical lines, but just horizontal lines to give a minimalistic look.

Final Thoughts

Formatting an essay in APA 7 style can seem like an intimidating task but it can get you good grades and give recognition to your work if followed all the instructions perfectly. Focus precisely on the font, spacing, paragraphing, headings, citations, punctuations, and all other guidelines, and compose a persuading paper. After everything, validate the APA essay format and all other content. Do not neglect any grammatical mistakes either. Otherwise, you can reach us at EduHelpHub in case you face any difficulties.