APA stands for the American Psychological Association. You’ll most likely use APA format if your paper is on a scientific topic. Many behavioral and social sciences use this organization’s standards and guidelines.
What are behavioral sciences? Behavioral sciences study human and animal behavior. They can include:
- Cognitive Science
What are social sciences? Social sciences focus on one specific aspect of human behavior, specifically social and cultural relationships. Social sciences can include:
- Political Science
- Human Geography
Many other fields and subject areas regularly use this style too. There are other formats and styles to use, such as MLA format and Chicago, among many, many others. If you’re not sure which style to use for your research assignment or project, ask your instructor.
While writing a research paper, it is always important to give credit and cite your sources; this lets you acknowledge others’ ideas and research you’ve used in your own work. Not doing so can be considered plagiarism, possibly leading to a failed grade or loss of a job. This style is one of the most commonly used citation styles used to prevent plagiarism. Here’s more on crediting sources.
In this guide, you’ll find information related to “What is APA format?” in relation to writing and organizing your paper according to the American Psychological Association’s standards. This page covers information related to this specific style and the official handbook was used as a reference, but this page is not associated with the American Psychological Association.
Here’s a quick rundown of the contents of this guide on how to do APA format:
A. Information related to writing and organizing your paper:
- Paper and essay categories
- General paper length
- Margin sizes
- Title pages
- Running Heads — How to format running heads, with samples
- Preparing APA format outlines
- How to form an abstract
- The body of most scientific papers
- Proper usage of APA format headings and subheadings
- Use of graphics (tables and figures)
B. Writing style tips:
- Verb usage
- Proper tone
- How to reduce bias and labels
- Abbreviation do’s and don’ts
- Other word rules
- Number rules
C. Brief overviews:
- Full references
- In-text citations
- References page in APA format
D. Complete sample paper
E. Final checklist
F. Instructions for submitting your project
What you won’t find in this guide:
This guide provides information related to the formatting of your paper, as in guidelines related to spacing, margins, word choice, etc. While it provides a general overview of APA references, it does not provide instructions for how to cite in APA format. For step-by-step instructions for citing books, journals, how to cite a website in APA format, information on an APA format bibliography, and more, refer to APA book citation, APA citation website, and the other guides on EasyBib.com. Or, you can use our automatic generator. Our APA formatter helps to build your references for you. Yep, you read that correctly.
A. Writing and Organizing Your Paper in an Effective Way
This section of our guide focuses on proper paper length, how to format headings, spacing, and more!
Before getting into the nitty-gritty details related to APA research paper format, first determine the type of paper you’re about to embark on creating:
1. Categories of papers
- Empirical studies
- Empirical studies take data from observations and experiments to generate research reports. It is different from other types of studies in that it isn’t based on theories or ideas, but on actual data.
- Literature reviews
- These papers analyze another individual’s work or a group of works. The purpose is to gather information about a current issue or problem and to communicate where we are today. It sheds light on issues and attempts to fill those gaps with suggestions for future research and methods.
- Theoretical articles
- These papers are somewhat similar to a literature reviews in that the author collects, examines, and shares information about a current issue or problem, by using others’ research. It is different from literature reviews in that it attempts to explain or solve a problem by coming up with a new theory. This theory is justified with valid evidence.
- Methodological articles
- These articles showcase new advances, or modifications to an existing practice, in a scientific method or procedure. The author has data or documentation to prove that their new method, or improvement to a method, is valid. Plenty of evidence is included in this type of article. In addition, the author explains the current method being used in addition to their own findings, in order to allow the reader to understand and modify their own current practices.
- Case studies
- Case studies present information related an individual, group, or larger set of individuals. These subjects are analyzed for a specific reason and the author reports on the method and conclusions from their study. The author may also make suggestions for future research, create possible theories, and/or determine a solution to a problem.
2. General paper length
Since APA style format is used often in science fields, the belief is “less is more.” Make sure you’re able to get your points across in a clear and brief way. Be direct, clear, and professional. Try not to add fluff and unnecessary details into your paper or writing. This will keep the paper length shorter and more concise.
3. Margin sizes
When it comes to margins, keep them consistent across the left, right, top, and bottom of the page. All four sides should be the same distance from the edge of the paper. It’s recommended to use at least one-inch margins around each side. It’s acceptable to use larger margins, but the margins should never be smaller than an inch.
4. Title pages
The title page, or APA format cover page, is the first page of a paper or essay. Some teachers and professors do not require a title page, but some do. If you’re not sure if you should include one or not, ask your teacher. Some appreciate the page, which clearly displays the writer’s name and the title of the paper.
The APA format title page includes four main components:
- the title of the APA format paper
- running head, which includes the page number (see below)
- the author’s name
- institutional affiliation
Some instructors and publications also ask for an author’s note. If you’re required or would like to include an author’s note, place it below the institutional affiliation.
Here are key guidelines to developing your title page:
- The title of the paper should capture the main idea of the essay, but should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. For example, instead of using the title “A Look at Amphibians From the Past,” title the paper “Amphibians From the Past.” Delete the unnecessary fluff!
- The title should be centered on the page and typed in 12-point, Times New Roman font. Do not underline, bold, or italicize the title.
- Your title may take up one or two lines, but should not be more than 12 words in length.
- All text on the title page should be double-spaced. The APA format examples paper below displays proper spacing, so go take a look!
- Do not include any titles in the author’s name such as Dr. or Ms.
- The institutional affiliation is the school the author attends or the location where the author conducted the research.
Sample of an APA format title page:
5. Running heads
Include a page header known as the “running head” at the top of every page. To make this process easier, set your word processor to automatically add these components onto each page. You may want to look for “Header” in the features.
A running head/page header includes two pieces: 1) the title of the paper and 2) page numbers.
Insert page numbers justified to the right-hand side of the APA format paper (do not put p. or pg. in front of the page numbers).
For the title of the paper, on the APA format title page only, include the words “Running Head” before your title in capital letters. Then type “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” justified to the left using all capital letters. If your title is long (over 50 characters), this running head title should be a shortened version of the title of your entire paper.
The rest of the pages should NOT include “Running head” in the page header. The header should look like this on the other pages:
6. Preparing outlines
Outlines are extremely beneficial as they help writers stay organized, determine the scope of the research that needs to be included, and establish headings and subheadings.
There isn’t an official or recommended “APA format for outline” structure. It is up to the writer (if they choose to make use of an outline) to determine how to organize it and the characters to include. Some writers use a mix of roman numerals, numbers, and uppercase and lowercase letters.
Even though there isn’t a required or recommended APA format for an outline, we encourage writers to make use of one. Who wouldn’t want to put together a rough outline of their project? We promise you, an outline will help you stay on track.
Here’s our version of how APA format for outlines could look:
Don’t forget, if you’re looking for information on APA citation format and other related topics, check out our other comprehensive guides.
7. How to form an abstract
An APA format abstract is a summary of a scholarly article or scientific study. Scholarly articles and studies are rather lengthy documents, and abstracts allow readers to first determine if they’d like to read an article in its entirety or not.
You may come across abstracts while researching a topic. Many databases display abstracts in the search results and often display them before showing the full text of an article or scientific study. It is important to create a high quality abstract that accurately communicates the purpose and goal of your paper, as readers will determine if it is worthy to continue reading or not.
Are you wondering if you need to create an abstract for your assignment? You might not have to. Some teachers and professors require it, and others don’t. If you’re not sure, ask!
If you’re planning on submitting your paper to a journal for publication, first check the journal’s website to learn about abstract and APA paper format requirements.
Here are some helpful suggestions to create a dynamic abstract:
- Abstracts are found on their own page, directly after the title or cover page.
- Include the running head on the top of the page.
- On the first line of the page, center the word “Abstract” (but do not include quotation marks).
- On the following line, write a summary of the key points of your research. Your abstract summary is a way to introduce readers to your research topic, the questions that will be answered, the process you took, and any findings or conclusions you drew. Use concise, brief, informative language. You only have a few sentences to share the summary of your entire document, so be direct with your wording.
- This summary should not be indented, but should be double-spaced and less than 250 words.
- If applicable, help researchers find your work in databases by listing keywords from your paper after your summary. To do this, indent and type Keywords: in italics. Then list your keywords that stand out in your research. You can also include keyword strings that you think readers will type into the search box.
- Use an active voice, not a passive voice. When writing with an active voice, the subject performs the action. When writing with a passive voice, the subject receives the action.
- Active voice: The subjects reacted to the medication.
- Passive voice: There was a reaction from the subjects taking the medication.
- Instead of evaluating your project in the abstract, simply report what it contains.
- If a large portion of your work includes the extension of someone else’s research, share this in the abstract and include the author’s last name and the year their work was released.
Sample abstract page
APA Format Example:
8. The body of most scientific papers
On the page after the abstract, begin with the body of the paper. Most scientific papers follow this format:
- Start with the Running head. The running head on the abstract page differs from the running head on the title page. The title page includes the words, “Running head.” The abstract page and all other pages only show the title of the paper, in capital letters. Also include the page number. The abstract page should be page 2.
- On the next line write the title. Do not bold, underline, or italicize the title.
- Begin with the introduction and indent the first line of the paragraph.
- The introduction presents the problem and premise upon which the research was based. It goes into more detail about this problem than the abstract.
- Begin a new section with the Method and use this word as the subtitle. Bold and center this subtitle. The Method section shows how the study was run and conducted. Be sure to describe the methods through which data was collected.
- Begin a new section with the Results. Bold and center this subtitle. The Results section summarizes your data. Use charts and graphs to display this data.
- Begin a new section with the Discussion. Bold and center this subtitle. This Discussion section is a chance to analyze and interpret your results.
- Draw conclusions and support how your data led to these conclusions.
- Discuss whether or not your hypothesis was confirmed or not supported by your results.
- Determine the limitations of the study and next steps to improve research for future studies.
Keep in mind, APA citation format is much easier than you think, thanks to EasyBib.com. Try our automatic generator and watch how we create APA citation format references for you in just a few clicks. While you’re at it, take a peek at our other helpful guides, such as our APA bibliography page, to make sure you’re on track with your research papers.
9. Proper usage of headings & subheadings
Headings serve an important purpose in research papers — they organize your paper and make it simple to locate different pieces of information. In addition, headings provide readers with a glimpse to the main idea, or content, they are about to read.
In APA format, there are five levels of headings, each with different sizes and purposes:
- Level 1: The largest heading size
- This is the title of your paper
- The title should be centered in the middle of the page
- The title should be bolded
- Use uppercase and lowercase letters where necessary (called title capitalization)
- Level 2:
- Should be a bit smaller than the title, which is Level 1
- Place this heading against the left margin
- Use bold letters
- Use uppercase and lowercase letters where necessary
- Level 3:
- Should be a bit smaller than Level 2
- Indented in from the left side margin
- Use bold letters
- Only place an uppercase letter at the first word of the heading. All others should be lowercase. The exception is for pronouns as they should begin with a capital letter.
- Level 4:
- Should be a bit smaller than Level 3
- Indented in from the left margin
- Only place an uppercase letter at the first word of the heading. All others should be lowercase. The exception is for pronouns as they should begin with a capital letter.
- Level 5:
- Should be the smallest heading in your paper
Here is a visual APA format template for levels of headings:
Bullying in Juvenile Detention Centers (Level 1)
Negative Outcomes of Bullying in Detention Centers (Level 2)
Depression (Level 3)
Depression in School (Level 4)
Withdrawal from peers (Level 5)
Withdrawal from staff
Withdrawal from staff
Depression at Home (Level 4)
Positive Outcomes of Bullying in Detention Centers
10. Use of graphics (tables and figures)
If you’re looking to jazz up your project with any charts, tables, drawings, or images, there are certain APA format rules to follow.
First and foremost, the only reason why any graphics should be added is to provide the reader with an easier way to see or read information, rather than typing it all out in the text.
Lots of numbers to discuss? Try organizing your information into a chart or table. Pie charts, bar graphs, coordinate planes, and line graphs are just a few ways to show numerical data, relationships between numbers, and many other types of information.
Instead of typing out long, drawn out descriptions, create a drawing or image. Many visual learners would appreciate the ability to look at an image to make sense of information.
Before you go ahead and place that graphic in your paper, here are a few key guidelines:
- All graphics, whether they’re tables, photographs, or drawings must be numbered. The first graphic, labeled as 1, should be the first one mentioned in the text.
- Follow them in the appropriate numerical order in which they appear in the text of your paper. Example: Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, Figure 3.
- Only use graphics if they will supplement the material in your text. If they reinstate what you already have in your text, then it is not necessary to include a graphic.
- Include enough wording in the graphic so that the reader is able to understand its meaning, even if it is isolated from the corresponding text. However, do not go overboard with adding a ton of wording in your graphic.
In the APA format sample paper at the end of this page, you’ll find examples of tables.
Is there anything better than seeing a neatly organized data table? We think not! If you have tons of numbers or data to share, consider creating a table instead of typing out a wordy paragraph. Tables are pretty easy to whip up on Google Docs or Microsoft Word.
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Choose to type out your data OR create a table. As stated above, in APA format, you shouldn’t have the information typed out in your paper and also have a table showing the same exact information. Choose one or the other.
- If you choose to create a table, discuss it very briefly in the text. Say something along the lines of, “Table 1 displays the amount of money used towards fighting Malaria.” Or, “Stomach cancer rates are displayed in Table 4.”
- Your table needs two items at the top:
- A number. Table 1 is the first table discussed in the paper. Table 2 is the next table mentioned, and so on.
- A title. Create a brief, descriptive title. Capitalize the first letter for each important word. Italicize the title.
- Only use horizontal lines.
- Keep the font at 12-point size and use single or double spacing. If you use single spacing in one table, make sure all of the others use single spaces as well. Keep it consistent.
- If you need to further explain something, or include an APA format citation, place it in a note below the table.
- If you’re submitting your project for a class, place your table close to the text where it’s mentioned. If you’re submitting it to be published in a journal, most publishers prefer tables to be placed in the back. If you’re unsure where to place your tables, ask!
Here’s an APA format example of a table:
We know putting together a table is pretty tricky. That’s why we’ve included not one, but a few tables on this page. Scroll down and look at the additional tables in the essay in APA format example found below.
Figures represent information in a visual way. They differ from tables in that they are visually appealing. Sure, tables, like the one above, can be visually appealing, but it’s the color, circles, arrows, boxes, or icons included that make a figure a “figure.”
There are many commonly used figures in papers.
Examples APA Format:
- Pie charts
- Hierarchy charts
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to APA format for figures:
- Only include a figure if it adds value to your paper. If it will truly help with understanding, include it!
- Either include a figure OR write it all out in the text. Do not include the same information twice.
- Create a sufficient caption and place it below the figure. The caption should clearly explain the content of the figure. Include any reference information if it’s reproduced or adapted.
APA format sample of a figure:
B. Writing Style Tips
Writing a paper for scientific topics is much different than writing for English, literature, and other composition classes. Science papers are much more direct, clear, and concise. This section includes key suggestions, explains how to write in APA format, and includes other tidbits to keep in mind while formulating your research paper.
11. Verb usage
Research experiments and observations rely on the creation and analysis of data to test hypotheses and come to conclusions. While sharing and explaining the methods and results of studies, science writers often use verbs. When using verbs in writing, make sure that you continue to use them in the same tense throughout the section you’re writing.
Here’s an APA format example:
We tested the solution to identify the possible contaminants.
It wouldn’t make sense to add this sentence after the one above:
We tested the solution to identify the possible contaminants. Researchers often test solutions by placing them under a microscope.
Notice that the first sentence is in the past tense while the second sentence is in the present tense. This can be confusing for readers.
For verbs in scientific papers, the manual recommends using:
- Past tense or present perfect tense for the explantation of the procedure
- Past tense for the explanation of the results
- Present tense for the explanation of the conclusion and future implications
If this is all a bit much, and you’re simply looking for help with your references, try the EasyBib.com APA format generator. Our APA formatter creates your references in just a few clicks. APA citation format is easier than you think thanks to our innovative, automatic tool.
12. Proper tone
Even though your writing will not have the same fluff and detail as other forms of writing, it should not be boring or dull to read. The Publication Manual suggests thinking about who will be the main reader of your work and to write in a way that educates them.
13. Reducing bias & labels
The American Psychological Association strongly objects to any bias towards gender, racial groups, ages of individuals or subjects, disabilities, and sexual orientation. If you’re unsure whether your writing is free of bias and labels or not, have a few individuals read your work to determine if it’s acceptable.
Here are a few guidelines that the American Psychological Association suggests:
- Only include information about an individual’s orientation or characteristic if it is important to the topic or study. Do not include information about individuals or labels if it is not necessary.
- If writing about an individual’s characteristic or orientation, for essay APA format, make sure to put the person first. Instead of saying, “Diabetic patients,” say, “Patients who are diabetic.”
- Instead of using narrow terms such as, “adolescents,” or “the elderly,” try to use broader terms such as, “participants,” and “subjects.”
- Be mindful when using terms that end with “man” or “men” if they involve subjects who are female. For example, instead of using “Firemen,” use the term, “Firefighter.” In general, avoid ambiguity.
- When referring to someone’s racial or ethnic identity, use the census category terms and capitalize the first letter. Also, avoid using the word, “minority,” as it can be interpreted as meaning less than or deficient.
- When describing subjects in APA format, use the words “girls” and “boys” for children who are under the age of 12. The terms, “young woman,” “young man,” “female adolescent,” and “male adolescent” are appropriate for subjects between 13-17 years old; “Men,” and “women,” for those older than 18. Use the term, “older adults.” for individuals who are older. “Elderly,” and “senior,” are not acceptable if used only as nouns. It is acceptable to use these terms if they’re used as adjectives.
Read through our example essay in APA format, found in section D, to see how we’ve reduced bias and labels.
- In APA formatting, use the same spelling as words found in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (American English).
- If the word you’re trying to spell is not found in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, a second resource is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.
- If attempting to properly spell words in the psychology field, consult the American Psychological Association’s Dictionary of Psychology
Thanks to helpful tools and features, such as the spell checker, in word processing programs, most of us think we have everything we need right in our document. However, quite a few helpful features are found elsewhere. Where can you find a full grammar editor? Right here, on EasyBib.com. The EasyBib Plus paper checker scans your paper for spelling, but also for any conjunction, determiner, or adverb out of place. Try it out and unlock the magic of an edited paper.
15. Abbreviation do’s and don’ts
Abbreviations can be tricky. You may be asking yourself, “Do I include periods between the letters?” “Are all letter capitalized?” “Do I need to write out the full name each and every time?” Not to worry, we’re breaking down abbreviations for you here.
First and foremost, use abbreviations sparingly. Too many and you’re left with a paper littered with capital letters mashed together. Plus, they don’t lend themselves to smooth and easy reading. Readers need to pause and comprehend the meaning of abbreviations and quite often stumble over them.
- If the abbreviation is used less than three times in the paper, type it out each time. It would be pretty difficult to remember what an abbreviation or acronym stands for if you’re writing a lengthy paper.
- If you decide to sprinkle in abbreviations, it is not necessary to include periods between the letters.
- Prior to using an unfamiliar abbreviation, you must type it out in text and place the abbreviation immediately following it in parentheses. Any usage of the abbreviation after the initial description, can be used without the description.
- Example: While it may not affect a patient’s short-term memory (STM), it may affect their ability to comprehend new terms. Patients who experience STM loss while using the medication should discuss it with their doctor.
- If an abbreviation is featured in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as is, then it is not necessary to spell it out.
- Example: AIDS
- For units of measurement, include the abbreviation if it sits with a number. If the unit of measurement stands alone, type it out.
- Examples APA format:
- 4 lbs.
- The weight in pounds exceeded what we previously thought.
- Examples APA format:
The manual recommends using one space after most punctuation marks unless the punctuation mark is at the end of a sentence. If the punctuation mark is at the end of the sentence, use two spaces afterwards. Yes, we know this seems a bit outdated. It doesn’t hurt to double check with your teacher or professor to ask their preference. The official APA format book was primarily created to aid individuals with submitting their paper for publication in a professional journal. Many schools adopt certain parts of the handbook and modify sections to match their preference. To see an example of an APA format research paper, with the spacing we believe is most commonly and acceptable to use, scroll down and see section D.
For more information related to the handbook, including frequently asked questions, and more, here’s further reading on the style.
17. Other word rules
It’s often a heated debate among writers whether or not to use an Oxford comma, but for this style, always use an Oxford comma. This type of comma is placed before the words AND and OR or in a series of three items.
Example of APA format for commas :
The medication caused drowsiness, upset stomach, and fatigue.
Here’s another example:
The subjects chose between cold, room temperature, or warm water.
When writing a possessive singular noun, you should place the apostrophe before the s. For possessive plural nouns, the apostrophe is placed after the s.
- Singular: Linda Morris’s jacket
- Plural: The Morris’ house
For hyphens, do not place a space before or after the hyphen. Here’s an example:
18. Number rules
Science papers often include the use of numbers, usually displayed in data, tables, and experiment information. The golden rule to keep in mind is that numbers less than 10 are written out in text. If the number is more than 10, use numerals.
APA format examples:
- 14 kilograms
- seven individuals
- 83 years old
- Fourth grade
The golden rule for numbers has exceptions.
In APA formatting, use numerals if you are:
- Showing numbers in a table or graph
- Referring to information in a table or graph
- Table 7
- Including a unit of measurement directly after it. Examples APA format:
- 8 lbs.
- 5 cm
- Displaying a math equation
- 4 divided by 2
- Showing a time, age, or date
- 8:08 a.m.
Use numbers written out as words if you are:
- Starting the sentence with a number (but try to rearrange the sentence to avoid this!)
- Ninety-two percent of teachers feel as though….
- Writing out a commonly used word or saying
- Hundred Years’ War
- Including a fraction
- One-sixth of the students
- Showing a time, age, or date
- 8:08 a.m.
- Starting the sentence with a number (but try to rearrange the sentence to avoid this!)
Other APA formatting number rules to keep in mind:
- Always include a zero before a decimal point
- 0.13 g
- Keep Roman numerals as is. Do not translate them into Arabic numerals. Examples APA format:
- World War II
- Super Bowl LII
- If you’re including plurals, do not include an apostrophe!
- It’s 1980s, not 1980’s!
- It’s 1980s, not 1980’s!
- Always include a zero before a decimal point
Need help with other writing topics? Our plagiarism checker is a great resource for anyone looking for writing help. Say goodbye to an out of place noun, preposition, or adjective, and hello to a fully edited paper.
C. Brief Overviews
19. Overview of references
Let’s get this statement out of the way before you become confused: An APA format reference and an APA format citation are two different things! We understand that many teachers and professors use the terms as if they’re synonyms, but according to this specific style, they are two separate things, with different purposes, and styled differently.
A reference displays all of the information about the source — the title, the author’s name, the year it was published, the URL, all of it! References are placed on the final page of a research project. Here’s an example of a reference:
Wynne-Jones, T. (2015). The emperor of any place. Somerville: MA, Candlewick Press.
An APA format citation is an APA format in-text citation. These are found within your paper, anytime a quote or paraphrase is included. They usually only include the name of the author and the date the source was published. Here’s an example of one:
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is even discussed in the book, The Emperor of Any Place. The main character, Evan, finds a mysterious diary on his father’s desk (the same desk his father died on, after suffering from a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy attack). Evan unlocks the truth to his father and grandfather’s past (Wynne-Jones 2015).
Both of the ways to credit another individual’s work — in the text of a paper and also on the final page — are key to preventing plagiarism. A writer must use both types in a paper. If you cite something in the text, it must have a full reference on the final page of the project. Where there is one, there must be the other!
Now that you understand that, here’s some basic info regarding APA format references.
- Each reference is organized, or structured, differently. It all depends on the source type. A book reference is structured one way, an APA journal is structured a different way, a newspaper article is another way. Yes, it’s probably frustrating that not all references are created equal and set up the same way. MLA works cited pages are unique in that every source type is formatted the same way. Unfortunately, this style is quite different.
- Most references follow this general format:
Author’s Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year published). Title of source. URL.
Again, as stated in the above paragraph, you must look up the specific source type you’re using to find out the placement of the title, author’s name, year published, etc. For more information on APA format for sources and how to reference specific types of sources, use the other guides on EasyBib.com. Here’s another useful site. Looking for a full visual of a page of references? Scroll down and take a peek at our APA format essay example towards the bottom of this page. You’ll see a list of references and you can gain a sense of how they look.
Looking for an APA format citation machine? Check out EasyBib.com! Our APA format maker develops your references in a snap! Plus, here’s a link to more about the fundamentals related to this particular style. If you want to brush up or catch up on the Modern Language Association’s style, here’s a great resource on how to cite websites in MLA.
20. In-text citations
Did you find the perfect quote or piece of information to include in your project? Way to go! It’s always a nice feeling when we find that magical piece of data or info to include in our writing. You probably already know that you can’t just copy and paste it into your project, or type it in, without also providing credit to the original author.
Displaying where the original information came from is much easier than you think. Directly next to the quote or information you included, place the author’s name and the year nearby. This allows the reader of your work to see where the information originated.
Here are two APA format citation examples:
Harlem had many artists and musicians in the late 1920s (Belafonte, 2008).
Or, you can place the author’s name in the sentence itself.
According to Belafonte (2008), Harlem was full of artists and musicians in the late 1920s.
The author’s names are structured differently if there is more than one author. Things will also look different if there isn’t an author at all (which is sometimes the case with website pages). For more information on APA citation format, check out this page on the topic: APA parenthetical citation and APA in-text citation.
21. References page
An APA format reference page is easier to create than you probably think. We go into detail on how to create this page on our APA Works Cited page. If you’re simply looking for a brief overview of the reference page, we’ve got you covered here.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to the references page in APA format:
- This VIP page has its very own page. Start on a fresh, clean document.
- Begin with the running head at the top, as always.
- Center and bold the title “References” (do not include quotation marks, underline, or italicize this title).
- Alphabetize and double-space ALL entries.
- Use Times New Roman, 12-pt size .
- Every quote or piece of outside information included in the paper should be referenced and have an entry.
- Even though it’s called a “reference page,” it can be longer than one page. If your references flow onto the next page, then that’s a-okay.
Sample Reference Page:
Here’s another friendly reminder to use the EasyBib APA format generator to quickly and easily develop every single one of your references for you. Try it out! Our APA formatter is easy to use and ready to use 24/7.
D. Complete Sample Paper
We’ve included a full paper below to give you an idea of what an essay in APA format looks like. If you’re looking for an APA format citation generator, we’ve got you covered. Use EasyBib.com! Our APA format machine can help you create every reference for your paper.
Example of APA Format Essay:
Running Head: USING BIOMETRICS TO EVALUATE VISUAL DESIGN 1
Using Biometrics to Evaluate Visual Design
Jane Lisa Dekker
Northern California Valley State University
USING BIOMETRICS TO EVALUATE VISUAL DESIGN 2
Visual design is a critical aspect of any web page or user interface, and its impact on a user’s experience has been studied extensively. Research has shown a positive correlation between a user’s perceived usability and a user’s assessment of visual design. Additionally, perceived web quality, which encompasses visual design, has a positive relationship with both initial and continued consumer purchase intention. However, visual design is often assessed using self-report scale, which are vulnerable to a few pitfalls. Because self-report questionnaires are often reliant on introspection and honesty, it is difficult to confidently rely on self-report questionnaires to make important decisions. This study aims to ensure the validity of a visual design assessment instrument (Visual Aesthetics of Websites Inventory: Short version) by examining its relationship with biometric (variables), like galvanic skin response, pupillometry, and fixation information. Our study looked at participants assessment of a webpage’s visual design, and compared it to their biometric responses while viewing the webpage. Overall, we found that both average fixation duration and pupil dilation differed when participants viewed web pages with lower visual design ratings compared to web pages with a higher visual design rating.
Keywords: usability, visual design, websites, eye tracking, pupillometry, self-report, VisAWI
USING BIOMETRICS TO EVALUATE VISUAL DESIGN 3
Using Biometrics to Evaluate Visual Design
A vast amount of research has been conducted regarding the importance of visual design, and its role as a mediator of user’s experience when browsing a site or interacting with an interface. In the literature, visual design is one aspect of website quality. Jones and Kim (2010) define website quality as “the perceived quality of a retail website that involves a [user’s] perceptions of the retailer’s website and comprises consumer reactions towards such attributes as information, entertainment/enjoyment, usability, transaction capabilities, and design aesthetics” (p. 632). They further examined the impact web quality and retail brand trust has on purchase intentions. Additional research examining e-commerce sites has shown web quality has an impact on both initial and continued purchase intention (Kuan, Bock, & Vathanophas, 2008), as well as consumer satisfaction (Lin, 2007). Moreso, research on the relationship between visual design and perceived usability (Stojmenovic, Pilgrim, & Lindgaard, 2014) has revealed a positive correlation between the two. As users’ ratings of visual quality increase, their ratings of perceived usability follows a similar trend. Although this research spans various domains, the reliance on self-report measures to gauge concepts like visual design and web quality is prevalent throughout much of the literature.
Although some self-report scales are validated within the literature, there are still issues with the use of self-report questionnaires. One is the reliance on the honesty of the participant. This tends to be more of an issue in studies related to questionnaires that measure characteristics
USING BIOMETRICS TO EVALUATE VISUAL DESIGN 4
of the participant, rather than objective stimuli. More relevant to this study is the issue of introspection and memory. Surveys are often distributed after a task is completed, and its accuracy is dependent on the ability of the participant to remember their experience during the study. Multiple research studies have shown that human memory is far from static. This can be dangerous if a researcher chooses to solely rely on self-report methods to test a hypothesis. We believe these self-report methods in tandem with biometric methods can help ensure the validity of the questionnaires, and provide information beyond the scope of self-report scales.
We know from previous research that the quality of websites mediates many aspects of e-commerce, and provides insight as to how consumers view the webpages in general. However, simply knowing a webpage is perceived as lower quality doesn’t give insight as to what aspects of a page are disliked by a user. Additionally, it’s possible that the user is misremembering aspects of the webpage or being dishonest in their assessment. Using eye tracking metrics, galvanic skin response, and facial expression measures in tandem with a scale aimed at measuring visual design quality has a couple of identifiable benefits. Using both can potentially identify patterns amongst the biometric measures and the questionnaire, which would strengthen the validity of the results. More so, the eye tracking data has the potential to identify patterns amongst websites of lower or higher quality.
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If found, these patterns can be used to evaluate particular aspects of a page that are impacting the quality of a webpage. Overall, we are interested in answering two questions:
Research Question 1: Can attitudinal changes regarding substantial website redesigns be captured using biometric measures?
Research Question 2: How do biometric measures correlate with self-reported measures of visual appeal?
Answering these questions has the potential to provide a method of justification for design changes, ranging from minor tweak to complete rebrands. There is not an easy way for companies to quantitatively analyze visual design decisions. A method for doing so would help companies evaluate visual designs before implementation in order to cost-justify them. To this end, we hope to demonstrate that biometric measurements can be used with questionnaires to verify and validate potential design changes a company or organization might want to implement.
By examining data from test subjects during a brief exposure to several websites, we hoped to explore the relationship between the self-reported evaluation of visual design quality and key biometric measurements of a subject’s emotional valence and arousal. Subjects were exposed to ten pairs of websites before and after a substantial visual design change and asked to evaluate the website based on their initial impressions of the site’s visual design quality using the VisAWI-S scale, as shown in Table 1.
During this assessment we collected GSR, facial expressions (limited by errors in initial study configuration), pupillary response, and fixation data using iMotions software coupled with a Tobii eye tracker, Shimmer GSR device, and Affdex facial expression analysis toolkit. This data was analyzed, in Table 2, to discover relationships between the independent and dependent variables, as well as relationships between certain dependent variables.
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Jones, C., & Kim, S. (2010). Influences of retail brand trust, off-line patronage, clothing involvement and website quality on online apparel shopping intention: Online apparel shopping intention. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 34(6), 627–637. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2010.00871.x
Kuan, H.-H., Bock, G.-W., & Vathanophas, V. (2008). Comparing the effects of website quality on customer initial purchase and continued purchase at e-commerce websites. Behaviour & Information Technology, 27(1), 3–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/01449290600801959
Lin, H.-F. (2007). The impact of website quality dimensions on customer satisfaction in the B2C e-commerce context. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 18(4), 363–378. https://doi.org/10.1080/14783360701231302
Stojmenovic, M., Pilgrim, C., & Lindgaard, G. (2014). Perceived and objective usability and visual appeal in a website domain with a less developed mental model. Proceedings of the 26th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference on Designing Futures: The Future of Design, 316–323. https://doi.org/10.1145/2686612.2686660
USING BIOMETRICS TO EVALUATE VISUAL DESIGN 7
Items included in the Vis-AWI-S instrument
|Simplicity||Everything goes together on the site.|
|Diversity||The layout is pleasantly varied.|
|Colorfulness||The color composition is attractive|
|Craftsmanship||The layout appears professionally designed|
|Familiarity*||I am familiar with this website|
|Note: Participants were asked about agreement with the item using a 7-point likert scale.|
|* question is simply to gauge familiarity for the study, and is not part of the Vis-AWI-S instrument|
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Descriptive Statistics, Mean Difference, and p-values for Website Stimuli
|Note: Stimuli are ranked by largest to smallest absolute mean difference.|
E. Final Checklist
Prior to submitting your paper, check to make sure you have everything you need and everything in its place:
- Did you credit all of the information and quotes you used in the body of your paper and show a matching full reference at the end of the paper? Remember, you need both! Need more information on how to credit other authors and sources? Check out our other guides, or use the EasyBib APA format generator to credit your sources quickly and easily. EasyBib.com also has more styles than just the one this page focuses on.
- Did you include a running head on every single page of your project? Are page numbers included? Only include the words “Running head” on the title page.
- Is your title page properly formatted? You may feel tempted to make the title in a larger font size or add graphics to jazz it up a bit. Keep it professional looking and make everything 12 pt size font and double spaced.
- If you created an abstract, is it directly after the title page? Some teachers and professors do not require an abstract, so before you go ahead and include it, make sure it’s something he or she is expecting.
- Are all headings, as in section or chapter titles, properly formatted? If you’re not sure, check section number 9.
- Are all tables and figures aligned properly? Did you include notes and other important information directly below the image? Include any information that will help the reader completely understand everything in the table or figure if it were to stand alone.
- Are abbreviations used sparingly? Did you format them properly?
- Is the entire document double spaced?
- Are all numbers formatted properly? Check section 17, which is APA writing format for numbers.
- Did you glance at the sample paper? Is your assignment structured similarly? Are all of the margins uniform?
F. Submitting Your Paper
Congratulations for making it this far! You’ve put a lot of effort into writing your paper and making sure the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. If you’re planning to submit your paper for a school assignment, make sure you review your teacher or professor’s procedures. If you’re submitting your paper to a journal, you probably need to include a cover letter. Most cover letters ask you to include:
- The author’s contact information.
- A statement to the editor that the paper is original.
- If a similar paper exists elsewhere, notify the editor in the cover letter.
Once again, review the specific journal’s website for exact specifications for submission.
Okay, so you’re probably thinking you’re ready to hit send or print and submit your assignment. Can we offer one last suggestion? We promise it will only take a minute. Consider running your paper through our handy dandy paper checker. It’s pretty simple. Copy and paste or upload your paper into our checker. Within a minute, we’ll provide feedback on your spelling and grammar. If there’s a pronoun, interjection, or verb out of place, we’ll highlight it and offer suggestions for improvement. We’ll even take it a step further and point out any instances of possible plagiarism. If it sounds too good to be true, then head on over to our innovative tool and give it a whirl. We promise you won’t be disappointed.