How Do You Write an APA-Compliant Paper?

Some general rules to follow for writing a paper in compliance with the American Psychological Association style guide include double-spacing, using an easily readable font such as 12-point Times New Roman and leaving a 1-inch margin around all sides of the page. The process of compiling and formatting references is of particular importance. Writers should keep a running record of sources, cite them within the paper and formally list them in the References section at the end.

The following steps can help writers reference a paper properly, according to APA guidelines.

Step 1: Record

During research, keep a note of the descriptive elements of each source, that is, the information required for citing. For an entire book, the basic descriptive elements include the author's name as it appears on the source, the title, the edition (if not the first), the publisher, place of publication, publication year and the relevant page numbers.

Step 2: Store

Methodically store this information so that it can be retrieved easily, perhaps using filing cards or a computer program.

Step 3: In-text citations

When writing the paper, include a citation of the author's surname and year of publication within parentheses for any reference to a source. For direct quotations, this should also include a page number, as follows: (Surname, YYYY, p. XX).

Step 4: Compile the references

Each unique in-text citation, along with any other sources consulted, should be matched by a full and detailed citation at the end of the paper. Titles of books and journals should be italicized.