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What are the APA guidelines for writing a college essay?

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The American Psychological Association publishes a set of guidelines for writing academic papers that include formats for scholarly references, page layout and conventions of style such as what verb tense to use when referring to the work of authors and researchers. Specific APA page formatting requirements for a college essay include headings for the title page, headings for the other pages in the essay, margin width, font size and style.

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APA guidelines call for college essays to be double spaced on 8.5 inch by 11 inch paper with 1-inch margins on all sides. The guidelines also call for a 12 point Times New Roman font, although students may substitute another highly readable font.

The first page of the essay is the title page. The title page includes a header with the words "Running head:" followed by the title of the essay, left justified, and a page number justified to the right. Below this head comes the title, the author's name and the author's educational institution. These lines are centered horizontally on separate lines above the midpoint of the page.

The abstract follows the title page. An abstract is a brief statement of 150 to 250 words stating the author's purpose, research methods, results and findings to be discussed in the paper. This page and every other page in the essay shows the title of the paper flush left in the header and the page number flush right.

Following the body of the essay, APA guidelines call for a list of references used in the essay. The specific format for each reference differs by the type of reference but generally calls for the name or names of contributors, date of publication, title of the resource, and publication source.

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