How to format a Word doc for writing an APA style college paper

During your college education, you will be required to format your assignments in different formats, of which APA is one of the most common. APA formatting is used for papers on social sciences, such as sociology, psychology, history, and so on. There are several APA formatting conventions one must follow, but you can make things much easier for yourself by formatting a Word document in APA style and use it as a template for all APA assignments. Here are the steps you need to follow:

Open a blank Word document.

Formatting the margins: Go Page Layout. Under the Margins button, select Normal. This option leaves one-inch margins on all four sides of the page.

Font: To set the text font, go to the Home tab and in the Font group select the Times New Roman font and size 12 settings. To make these settings consistent across the template, go to the Styles group on the Home tab. Bring the mouse arrow to the Normal style and right-click. Select Modify. Then, select Times New Roman, size 12 and click on the New documents based on this template button.

Next, click on the Format button and select the Paragraph option. Select double line spacing with 0 pt spacing before and after. Click OK.

Headings: APA style papers require the use of different levels of headings. To set the first level heading formatting, right-click Heading 1 in the Styles group. Select Modify. Select Times New Roman, size 12, black text colour and centered alignment. Click on the Format button and select the same spacing options as above. Click OK.

For second level headings, select Times New Roman, size 12, left-alignment, and bold. Select the same double spacing options as above. Click OK.

Headers: The header is the text that appears within the top margin. Double-click in the header space which opens up the Header & Footer Tools tab on the Ribbon. Since the first page header is formatted differently, select the Different First Page option. Go to Page Number, select Top of Page and the option with right-aligned page numbers. Then, insert the header text, i.e. “Running Head: TITLE OF PAPER”. Press Tab to align this text with the left margin. Double-click on the page to get out of the header area.

Title Page: The title page is the first page of an APA paper. It contains the following information in centered alignment down the middle of the page:

  • Assignment Title
  • Name of the student
  • Course code
  • Name of the professor
  • Date of submission

With the cursor still on the title page, go to the Insert tab and select Page Break.

Now, click on the header of the second page. Format the page number similarly as for the title page. For the text, however, simply insert the title of the page without the words Running Head. Press Tab to align this with the left margin.

Text: First, we format the headings. Remember that in APA papers, the introduction is the first section, but it does not carry a heading. So insert a text paragraph on the page. Select it and press the Normal style in the Styles group.

Write the first heading, which should a firs-level heading. Select it and click on the Heading 1 style in the Styles group. Again insert paragraph text below it and format it in Normal style.

To insert a second-level heading, type the heading, select it and click on the Heading 2 style in the Styles group.

Finally, type the heading Conclusion and format it as a first-level heading.

Table of Contents: The table of contents is inserted before the text proper. Bring the cursor to the beginning of the first paragraph. Click on the References tab and click on Table of Contents. Select the required format. The headings and page numbers will appear automatically on the page. If you change a heading in the text, it will be updated in the table of contents automatically by clicking on Update Table.

Now, bring the cursor to the first paragraph. Click on Page Layout and select Page Break. This will move the text to a new page.

References: The References page is the final section of an APA paper and it lists the sources of all information cited in the paper. Bring the cursor to the end of the last paragraph and insert a Page Break. Type the heading References and format it as a second-level heading.

Select the empty lines below the heading and click on the arrow in the Paragraph group. Select Hanging indentation in the Indentation block. Copy and paste a few sample references in the Author, Date format.

Save the document on your computer.

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