Skip to Main Content

APA (7th ed.), Citation Style: General Guidelines

General APA Style Guidelines


APA format suggests writing in the first person. If you are a sole author, use the pronoun "I". If you are co-authoring a paper, use the pronoun "we". Do NOT refer to yourself or your co-authors in the third person as "the author(s)" or "the researcher(s)."

Be concise and clear

  • Avoid vague and misleading statements
  • Present information clearly with minimal jargon
  • Eliminate unnecessary words/phrases

Style matters

  • Write objectively
  • Avoid poetic or flowery language
  • Make sure subject/verb tenses agree



Be sensitive to labels

  • Avoid identifying groups by a disorder/disease, condition, etc.
    Avoid: schizophrenics
    Preferred: people diagnosed with schizophrenia
  • Avoid outdated/inappropriate labels
  • When you must label a group, try to use a term that group prefers, and be aware that different people within those groups may prefer different terms.  When in doubt, ask the participants.
  • Describe at the appropriate level of specificity. There are times when age, gender, sexual orientation, etc. matter for specific reasons, and when it doesn't. If it doesn't matter, don't use it.

Gender pronouns

  • The third person singular use of "they" is recommended to avoid gender/sexual orientation bias, and when that is unknown/ not relevant to what is being discussed/studied. Only use "he/she" sparingly.

Additional Resources

Major Paper Sections

Research papers written in APA style include four major sections.  These sections include:


Title page

APA style title pages are centered horizontally and vertically.  It consists of the title of your paper, your name and institution.  If instructed, it may also include a course/section number, instructor name, and due date.  The title page should be numbered the first page.  A running head should appear in the upper left-hand corner of your paper.  The running head should be typed in UPPERCASE letters and be no more than 50 characters long.





The abstract appears as the second page of your paper.  An abstract is a brief (150 to 250 words) but thorough description of your problem, findings and summaries.  If you performed an experiment, your methodology and findings should be described. 


Main body

The components of the main body of your paper will depend on the assignment.  The main body of your paper could describe the problem you are researching, an investigation of previous findings, methodology, results, discussion of results and/or conclusion.  Running head and page numbers are still present in the main body.



The running head and page numbers also continue onto your reference page.  Center the word "References" and continue to use double spacing throughout this page.  References must have a hanging indent and follow the APA formatting described throughout this guide.


APA style, 7th edition requires specific heading formatting.

Level of heading



Centered, Bold, Title Case Heading

    Text begins as a new paragraph.


 Flush Left, Bold, Title Case Heading

  Text begins as a new paragraph.


 Flush Left, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading

   Text begins as a new paragraph


 Indented, Bold, Title Case Heading, Ending with a period. Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.


Indented, Bold italic, Title Case Heading, Ending With a Period. Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.

Sample Papers

APA can be difficult.  The Owl at Purdue provides a great APA sample page to help you visually understand APA style.

To go more in depth, the APA provides sample papers with details notes about many aspects of APA formatting and style.The annotated student papers are available in PDF format; non-annotated ones are also available in Word format.

APA also offers tutorials and webinars on many things APA. Those tutorials can be found here: