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Writing Center: APA

APA Formatting

APA 6th edition is the style of formatting used when writing about the social sciences, and is preferred by most professors at Woodbury. Whether you're new to the style, or you've been working with it for a long time and forgot something, hopefully this page can help!

Purdue OWL is our favorite source for answers to questions regarding APA formatting. 


Below is a sample paper, formatted in APA style. Notice the headers on the pages, the cover page, abstract, and references page. 

Formatting in Word

Click below to go to our page on using Microsoft Word to format your paper in APA!

Cover Page

The APA cover page has 3 parts:

1. The header. The header on the first page is different from the other pages in your document. On the first page, it says "Running Head: TITLE OF ESSAY," while on all the other pages it just says "TITLE OF ESSAY." Make sure that this is also in Times New Roman, because Word sometimes resets the font to the default. The title that you use in your headers can be a shortened version of your title.

2. Title, name, school. Here, in the center of the page, you write your title, your name, and the university you go to-- make sure it's all double spaced. 

3. Author's Note. This is where you note what class and professor your paper is written for. "Author's Note:" is centered above the information, and this is also double-spaced. 


According to Purdue OWL, the abstract is a brief summary of the paper, allowing readers to quickly review the main points and purpose of the paper. It should be between 150-250 words. Abbreviations and acronyms used in the paper should be defined in the abstract.

Your abstract should be on its own page, after the title page but before the beginning of the essay. Before the paragraph, the word “Abstract” should be centered and typed in 12 point Times New Roman. Do not indent the first line of the abstract paragraph. All other paragraphs in the paper should be indented.

References Page

Your references page contains a list of all the sources you have referenced in your paper, whether you've directly quoted them or just paraphrased information (put the source's information into your own words). It is meant to work hand in hand with your in-text citations, and be easy for the reader to understand. 

The references page is formatted simply. At the top, centered, in Times New Roman 12 pt, it says "References," and below is a list of your sources, in proper APA citation format. The sources should be formatted with a hanging indent (the first line of the citation goes all the way to the left, and the following lines are indented). If you need help creating a hanging indent, visit our Microsoft Word Help page.

The list of sources should also be in alphabetical order. This way, if you reader is reading your paper and comes across an in-text citation that they want to know more about, when they visit your references page they will be able to find it easily.

References Page Citation Types

Below are the citation formats of some of the most common types of sources.

Article in a Periodical (Magazine, Journal, Newspaper)

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages.


Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.

Encyclopedia Entry

Bergmann, P. G. (1993). Relativity. In The New Encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. 26, pp. 501-508). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica.

Image (More detailed information on image citations here)

Photographer, F.M. (Photographer). (Year, Month Date of Publication). Title of Photograph [digital image]. Retrieved from URL


Author, A. A. & Author B. B. (Date of publication). Title of page [Format description when necessary]. Retrieved from

Article from an online database (some of our library databases have a "cite" button next to the article you've selected to use as a source; it's always a good idea to double check the format)

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range. Retrieved from

Motion Picture

Producer, P. P. (Producer), & Director, D. D. (Director). (Date of publication). Title of motion picture [Motion picture]. Country of origin: Studio or distributor.

In-Text Citations

Within the body of your essay, whenever you use information from a source (either a direct quote or paraphrased), you need to give credit to the original author. Here's how!

APA is primarily concerned with the author's last name and the year of publication, so keep this in mind when you're citing.

The first time you use a source in your paper, it's a good idea to "introduce" it to the reader, providing the name of the source, the type (is it a book? An article? A TED Talk?), the author's full name, and the year the source was published. There are a number of ways to do this, but here's an example: "In John Smith's 2014 article, "Why Dogs are the Best," he begins with the history of the relationship between dogs and humans." This way, the reader isn't suddenly hit with an in-text parenthetical citation. This introduction of a source can also establish credibility, especially if the author is someone renowned in the field. "Laurel DiGangi, a writing professor at Woodbury University, wrote..."

After you've introduced the author and the source to your reader, you can refer to it by the author's last name and the year of publication. This is usually done in a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence containing information about that source, like this: (Last Name, year). Remember: punctuation always goes at the end, after the citation.

You can work the last name and the year into the sentence in other ways too: 

"Brown writes, "it's a beautiful day" (2002)." 

"Johnson (1998) argued that blue is, in fact, the superior color."

"In her article on climate change (2010), Weiss writes that we should all be recycling more."

If you don't have the author's last name, use whatever the first words are in your citation in your references list, so that your citations correspond with each other. 

If you don't have the date, you can use "n.d." for "no date."

Contact Us

Whitten Center Room 118 | 818.252.5232 | Laurel DiGangi, Director of the Writing Center