Cite It Right! What is APA Format Style?

APA Format StyleDuring the course of studying, every student should write essays, research papers or other types academic writing in order to receive a degree. In addition, scientists write theoretical articles, research papers, in which they report the results of their research. Researchers should use one of the format styles (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian or Harvard) when writing papers. It makes a paper structured and gives a credit to the authors of the works cited in the paper.

APA format style is the most widely used by scholars and researchers. Before writing a research paper in APA style, it is necessary to identify what is APA format style and its basic requirements. The APA format style allows readers follow the ideas of a paper efficiently, locate the most important information without being distracted with unfamiliar formatting. Moreover, using the APA format style, an author demonstrates his/her credibility and familiarity with the audience. The question of what is APA format style is a key point in writing a high-quality paper.

Defining APA Format Style

APA format style is an official writing style elaborated by American Psychological Association that is used to cite sources in Education, Psychology, Linguistics, Criminology, Economics, Business, and Nursing. It was first developed in 1929 by a group of psychologists, business managers, and anthropologists to establish APA style rules that would simplify reading comprehension. The style guidelines are spelled out in Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.  The latest (the 6th edition) of the manual consists of eight chapters, in which the authors provide a valuable guidance on writing academic papers from the ethics of authorship to the journal publishing process. Basically, APA Style is used for writing research reports, term papers, theoretical articles, literature reviews, empirical studies, case studies, and methodological articles.

Paper Sections

In general, an APA formatted assay includes four sections:

  • Title Page;
  • Abstract (if required);
  • Body of the Paper;
  • References page.

Title page should include the running head, the title of the paper, the name of the author, and the institutional affiliation. It is worth mentioning that the title of the paper should not contain more than 12 words and the running head (a shortened version of the title) should not exceed fifty characters.

Abstract is a short summary of the whole paper. Abstract includes at least the information about the topic and the purpose of the research, main questions, participants, methods of data analysis, and the results of the research. It is usually a single paragraph, which contains from 150 to 250 words.

Main body is the most important part of a paper. Usually, it is subdivided into several sections using headings. The unique heading system of the APA format style consists of five different levels, however, usually, APA papers do not include more than two of them. Main body of a research paper should include an Introduction, Research Methods, Results, Discussion, and Appendix.

Reference List provides readers with the information about the sources used in the body of a paper. It appears at the end of the paper on a separate page. The list should contain each source cited in the text as well as every in-text citation should have a corresponding entry in the list. The rules for citing sources in APA differ from those of any other format style. Moreover, there are numerous nuances concerning the references to books, journal articles, films, magazines, websites.


To sum up, APA format style is the most commonly applied style in academic writing. The papers written in APA style have a clear structure, making it easier to be understood by the readers. Therefore, in order to write a quality paper, an author should know and comply with the basic rules and requirements of the APA format style.