The APA format is the official publication style of the American Psychological Association and provides the requirements for formatting the pages, structuring content and citing sources in a research paper. Essays, articles and other works in the social sciences use the APA format.
General formatting requirements in the APA style are to print text on standard letter-sized paper using double spacing and 1-inch margins on all sides. The APA recommends using 12-point Times New Roman as the font for the text, though any easy-to-read font is acceptable. Each page must also include a header that repeats the first few words of the essay title in the upper-left corner of the page and a page number in the upper-right corner. The repeating title cannot exceed 50 characters.
The paper must begin with a title page containing the title, the author's name and the school name. Next is the abstract, which begins on a new page. The abstract provides a concise summary of the paper's topic in a single paragraph of 150 to 200 words.
On a new page, the main body of the paper appears, beginning with the title. When an idea or text comes from a reference source, a citation should appear to identify the source. These in-text citations vary depending on what is being referenced, but they usually include the author's last name and the work's publication date. The final part of the essay is the reference list, which lists in alphabetical order all the sources cited in the paper.