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APA Reference Style: Easy Tips for Formatting Your Term Paper


APA (American Psychology Association) format is quite common for academic papers in social sciences. You will need to write quite a bit of essays in this format if you choose this direction for your education. This means that you will need to learn the numerous guidelines that define this publication style.

You can find a general APA format guide online, but you will also need to discuss the formatting requirements with your teacher. The professor will tell you about additional details that you may not find in common guides.

The vast majority of APA format requirements revolve around quotations and references, so you need to be very thorough in studying them.

Take a look at the following list of basic APA style reference page rules:

  • The reference list should start with a new page. It must be titled “References” (centered).
  • Every source cited in the paper must be included in the reference list.
  • The sources must be presented in alphabetical order, based on the authors’ names. If there is more than one author per source, you will need to use the first author’s name as a guide.
  • All the references (like any other part of an APA paper) must be double-spaced.
  • The first line of every reference must be aligned to the left. Every additional line must be indented.
  • When adding article titles, you will need to capitalize the first letter. If there is a colon present in the title, the next word after it should be capitalized as well. The title shouldn’t be underlined, italicized, or surrounded by quotation marks.
  • When including journal titles, every word must be capitalized.
  • Names of books and journals should be italicized.

It will be much easier on you if you learn the reference list formatting requirements before you start your research. This way, you will be able to write down the names of sources into your notebook in the right format, so you will only need to copy them when compiling a reference list after you are done with the actual paper.

Talk to your teacher or study the official APA format rulebook if you need to cite some unusual source and don’t know how to go about it. Be sure to double-check the reference list, as you need to be positive that every cited source is included in it. If you miss even one of them, you can be accused of plagiarism. Do not let your lack of attention ruin your reputation in school.