How to Write an Essay in APA Format: Guide With Examples

NUR-513 Topic 8 DQ 1:Identify three professional nursing organizations that interest you. Provide a brief summary of their purpose, requirements, and any differences in focus, population, scope, or intent. How do these organizations align to your goals and worldview

How to Write an Essay in APA Format

Introduction to APA Essay Formatting

When it comes to academic writing, each detail matters. You don’t just convey your understanding of an academic concept, but you also demonstrate your command of the academic language. Among the various formatting styles, the American Psychological Association (APA) format is one of the most widely used. Understanding APA essay format can help you tackle essays across various disciplines, from Psychology to Business and beyond.

What Is APA Format?

So, you might ask, “What is APA format?” The American Psychological Association (APA) format is a citation style primarily used in the social and behavioral sciences. This format was developed to ensure consistency and simplicity in the writing and presentation of scientific ideas. The main objective is to provide writers with a coherent format for citing the works and ideas of others in a manner that promotes intellectual honesty and efficiency.

What is an APA Style Essay?

An APA style essay refers to an academic paper that follows the guidelines outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. This manual covers a broad spectrum of topics, including the layout and structure of your paper, the process of citing other works, and how to present statistical data effectively. In essence, when you write an APA style essay, you are aligning your paper with a proven framework that enhances readability and presents your research findings in a clear and systematic manner.

APA Essay Format Basics

Here are the essential components of APA essay formatting, covering aspects such as the title page, headers, page numbers, and more. Their aim is to give you a comprehensive understanding of the APA format and how to format an essay in apa, enabling you to present your essay with clarity, precision, and academic rigor.

Title Page

The title page is the face of your essay, the first impression it makes on the reader. In APA format, the title page includes the title of your paper, your name, and your institutional affiliation. Here’s how you set it up:

Center the title of your essay paper in the middle of the page. It should be written in title case, meaning the first letter of each principal word is capitalized. Also, ensure it’s in bold and in readable font size (usually 12 points).

Following the title, still in the center, write your name. This should be your full name without any academic or professional titles. Finally, underneath your name, write the name of your institution or place of study.

Remember, the title page gives the first glimpse into what your paper is about, so make sure it’s neat, clear, and follows the guidelines above.


In APA format, the header appears on every page. It includes the “Running head,” followed by a colon and an abbreviated version of your paper’s title, all in uppercase letters. It should be left-aligned and not exceed 50 characters, including spaces and punctuation. This running head version of your title will appear on all pages, and on the title page it will be followed by the label “Running head.”

Page Numbers

Page numbers should be included in the top right corner of every page, including the title page. This helps keep your paper organized and allows the reader to navigate through your work easily.


In APA format, the first line of each new paragraph should be indented by 0.5 inches. This can easily be done using the tab key on your keyboard. This indentation helps to distinguish between paragraphs and makes your paper easier to read.


An abstract in an APA format essay is a brief summary of your paper, giving the reader a concise overview of your research. It typically ranges from 150-250 words and should cover the purpose of your study, the main findings, and your conclusion. The abstract should be on a separate page immediately after the title page with the word “Abstract” centered at the top.

Main Body

The main body of your APA essay is where you present your arguments, evidence, and findings. It starts on a new page after the abstract (or the title page if there’s no abstract). The structure of the main body will depend on your specific essay outline. However, it generally begins with an introduction, followed by the main text or body, and ends with a conclusion.


The references page is where you list all the sources you’ve cited in your paper. It begins on a new page after the main body of your essay. The word “References” should be centered at the top of the page. The references should be listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name and should include details like the author’s name, the year of publication, the title of the work, and the publisher or URL.


It’s important to stick to a simple, professional font when writing an APA essay. The APA manual recommends 12-pt Times New Roman, but other easy-to-read serif fonts like Georgia or sans serif fonts like Arial or Calibri are also acceptable. The key is to ensure your essay is readable and professional.


In APA format, you should set at least one-inch margins on all sides of your paper (top, bottom, right, and left margins). This helps to keep your work neat and easy to read.


Double-spacing is required throughout most of your APA format essay. This includes the title page, body of the document, and references. The exception is the abstract, where you should use double spacing only if your professor or the publication guidelines specifically request it.

What are the Major Sections in an APA Style Essay?

An APA-style essay is usually divided into four major sections: the title page, the abstract, the main body, and the references. Let’s look at each in turn:

The title page

As mentioned earlier, the title page includes the essay title, your name, and your institutional affiliation. It serves as the cover of your essay, giving the reader a glimpse of what to expect.

The abstract

The abstract is a concise summary of your paper, giving the reader an overview of the purpose of your study, main findings, and conclusion.

The main body

The main body is where you present your arguments and findings. It generally starts with an introduction, followed by the main text, and ends with a conclusion. This is where you’ll make your case and present the evidence to back up your arguments.


The references section is where you list all the sources you’ve cited in your paper. It’s an essential part of your essay, demonstrating the breadth of your research and giving credit to the work of others that has informed your own.

How to Write an Essay in APA Format

Steps to a Successful APA Format Essay

Writing an essay in APA format may initially seem like an uphill battle. But don’t worry! Once you break it down into manageable steps, it becomes much simpler. So, let’s walk through these steps together, shall we?

Choose a Topic

First things first, you need to decide on a topic. Now, you might be thinking, “Easier said than done!” But here’s a tip: choose a topic that genuinely piques your interest. It should ideally be related to your field of study and have enough research resources. Remember, the more passionate you are about the topic, the more engaging your essay will be!

Research Your Topic

Next up, it’s time to hit the books (or the internet!). Research is the backbone of your essay. Look for scholarly articles, books, and other credible sources to gather information and insight about your topic. Make sure your sources are reliable – you don’t want to base your essay on unverified information.

Early Preparation

An important secret to a successful essay is starting early. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have for research, writing, and revising. Not to mention, it’ll save you from last-minute panic! So, set a schedule, stick to it, and start preparing early.

Citations and Referencing

As an academic writer, you must understand how to cite sources in APA format. This is vital for two reasons. First, it helps you avoid the dreaded ‘P’ word – plagiarism! And second, it allows you to give credit where it’s due. Citations and referencing are all about acknowledging the hard work of the authors whose work has contributed to your essay.

Write Your Rough Draft

With research out of the way, it’s time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys!). Start by creating a rough draft of your essay. Don’t aim for perfection at this stage. Instead, focus on getting your thoughts out and following your APA format essay outline. Incorporate citations for any ideas or facts that you’ve borrowed from your sources. Remember, it’s a ‘rough’ draft for a reason!

Review and Revise

Last but not least, review and revise your work. Look for inconsistencies, unclear sections, and revise them for clarity. Check your grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and ensure your paper adheres to APA formatting guidelines. Consider asking a peer or a mentor to review your essay – a fresh pair of eyes can often catch things you might have missed!

APA Format Essay Example

To give you a better understanding of what an APA style guide essay looks like, let’s consider a hypothetical example. In this case, we’ll focus on a nursing topic: “The Impact of Nurse-Patient Ratio on the Quality of Care.” These current essay format guidelines are from the 7th Edition of the APA Manual.

Title Page

Title of Your Paper: The Impact of Nurse-Patient Ratio on the Quality of Care

Your Name: Alice Manning

Your Institution: University of Healthcare


The abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the content of the student papers. It allows readers to survey the contents of an article quickly.

This paper explores the relationship between the nurse-patient ratio and the quality of care provided in hospitals. The purpose of this research is to understand how the ratio impacts patient outcomes and nurse job satisfaction. The results suggest a strong correlation between lower nurse-patient ratios and improved patient outcomes and job satisfaction.

Main Body


The introduction presents the topic to the reader, provides a background, and details the paper’s purpose.

In recent years, the healthcare sector has witnessed an increased interest in the nurse-patient ratio. The ratio has significant implications on the quality of care provided to patients and the job satisfaction of nurses. This paper aims to explore the correlation between the nurse-patient ratio and the quality of care provided.

Literature Review

This section presents a review of the existing literature on the topic, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the major trends, theories, and debates in the field.

Several studies have explored the relationship between nurse-patient ratio and the quality of care. These studies have pointed to a strong correlation between the two variables, with lower ratios often associated with better patient outcomes and higher job satisfaction among nurses (Smith, 2015; Johnson & Clark, 2017).


This section presents your arguments backed up by evidence from your sources. Each paragraph should focus on a single point or idea, and all your points should work together to support your overall thesis.

The data collected from various hospitals across the country suggests that hospitals with lower nurse-patient ratios tend to report better patient outcomes. Additionally, nurses in these hospitals report higher job satisfaction levels, leading to lower turnover rates (Brown, 2020).


This section summarizes your main findings and the implications of your research.

This study’s findings suggest that reducing nurse-patient ratios in hospitals can significantly improve patient outcomes and enhance job satisfaction among nurses. Therefore, healthcare policymakers should consider implementing policies to ensure optimal nurse-patient ratios in hospitals.


This section lists all the sources you cited in your paper, formatted according to APA guidelines.

  • Brown, A. (2020). The impact of nurse-patient ratio on patient outcomes: A systematic review. Journal of Nursing Administration, 50(2), 65-71.
  • Johnson, M., & Clark, E. (2017). Nurse-patient ratio and its impact on healthcare outcomes: A literature review. Nursing Outlook, 65(1), 123-130.
  • Smith, J. (2015). The relationship between nurse-patient ratio and nurse job satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Journal of Nursing Management, 23(5), 644-658.

How to Handle In-Text Citations in APA Format

In APA format research papers, you must acknowledge your sources both within the body of your essay and in a reference list at the end. This is important to provide credit to the original authors and avoid plagiarism. Here’s how to handle in-text citations:

Author-Date Citation System

The APA format requires you to use an author-date formatting and citation system. This means that the author’s last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text. It’s typically formatted in parentheses like this: (Smith, 2020).

Direct Quotations

If you’re quoting directly from a source, you should include the page number as well as the author’s last name and year of publication. For example: (Smith, 2020, p. 42). This allows your readers to find the exact information in the original source.

Multiple Authors

For a source with two authors, include both last names in the citation, connected by an ampersand (&). For example: (Smith & Johnson, 2020).

For a source with three or more authors, include the first author’s last name followed by ‘et al.’ This is a Latin abbreviation that means ‘and others’. For example: (Smith et al., 2020).

No Author

If the source does not have an author, use a shortened version of the title instead. For example, if you’re citing a source titled “The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity”, your in-text citation would look like this: (“Impact of Climate Change”, 2020).

Multiple Works in the Same Parentheses

When your sentence cites two or more works, list them alphabetically as they would appear in the reference list and separate them with a semicolon. For example: (Johnson, 2019; Smith, 2020).

Personal Communication

For personal communication like interviews or emails, provide the initials and last name of the communicator and the exact date. Personal communication is not included in the reference list as they do not provide recoverable data. For example: (J. Smith, personal communication, January 15, 2020).

In-text citations are an essential part of the APA format, ensuring that you credit the authors whose work has contributed to your research and arguments. Make sure you handle them correctly to maintain the integrity of your academic work.

Final Thoughts on How to Write an Essay in APA Format

Mastering the APA essay format might seem like a daunting task at first, but with patience and practice, you’ll soon get the hang of it. Remember, APA formatting aims to ensure your work is clear, consistent, and easy to read. It’s not just about following rules for the sake of rules but rather to help you communicate your ideas effectively and professionally.

When in doubt, refer back to the APA manual or reliable online resources. And never hesitate to seek help from your institution’s peers, mentors, or writing centers. The more you write and revise, the more confident you’ll become in your APA essay writing skills.

Still, if the prospect of writing your APA papers feels like a hard task, remember: you’re not alone in this journey. Seeking help and guidance is not a sign of weakness but a testament to your commitment to excellence. And that’s where we come in.

Our team of professional essay writers is ready to assist you every step of the way, providing personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs in writing a paper in APA format.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Write an Essay in APA Format

How do you write an interview essay in APA format?

An interview essay in APA format would follow the same basic structure as any other APA essay. However, for the interview itself, you would include a citation in your references list with the person’s name, the mode of communication (e.g., personal interview, telephone interview), and the date. In the text, you would cite it as a personal communication.

How do you cite an essay in APA format?

To cite an essay in APA format, you would include the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the title of the essay in your references list. For in-text citations, you would include the author’s last name and the year of publication.

How do I write a two-part essay in APA format?

A two-part essay in APA format would follow the same guidelines as a standard essay but with two distinct sections. Each section would have its own introduction, body, and conclusion, but they should be clearly related and contribute to a single overarching thesis.

How do I include a direct quote in an APA format essay?

To include a direct quote in an APA format essay, you would enclose the quote in quotation marks, followed by an in-text apa citation with the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page number. For example: (Smith, 2020, p. 42).

How do I make a cover page for an essay in APA format?

The cover page of an APA format essay, also known as the title page, should include the title of your paper, your name, and your institutional affiliation, all centered and double-spaced.

How do I format headings in APA style?

The APA formatting style uses five levels of headings. Level 1 is the highest or main level of heading, Level 2 is a subheading of Level 1, Level 3 is a subheading of Level 2, and so on. The formatting of each level is as follows:

  • Level 1: Centered, Boldface, Uppercase, and Lowercase Headings
  • Level 2: Left-Aligned, Boldface, Uppercase, and Lowercase Heading
  • Level 3: Indented, boldface, lowercase heading with a period.
  • Level 4: Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.
  • Level 5: Indented, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.

What is the typical word count for an abstract in APA format?

An abstract in APA format typically ranges from 150-250 words. It provides a brief summary of the research and highlights the main points of your paper.

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