Using the APA Formatting Style in Essays

An APA style essay should have the following features in its title or cover page, running head, and in its page numbers:    

  • A shortened, fully-capitalized version of the title aligned to the left preceded with the words “Running Head.
  • The page number aligned to the right margin of the page.
  • The full essay title in the center of the page.
  • The writer’s name and their college name, all in double-spacing in the center and underneath the essay title.

Every page – including the essay’s title or cover page, the abstract page(s) if present, and the reference pages – should display the page number in the top right-hand corner. The title – in its short version - should also be displayed on each subsequent page, with the words “running head” left out. 

If a tutor asks for a title page to be omitted, then you should add your own name, the name of the class, the name of your instructor, and the assignment’s date in the upper left side of the first essay page. The title should be centered on the next line. Your essay should then begin on the next line. All of this information should be in double-spacing.  

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How to Format a Running Head and the Page Numbering Using MS Word version 2007

There is a ‘Header’ feature in Word that handles all the formatting items described above. If you try to type these manually, you may find it difficult to keep everything correct. By following the steps below, your header will look different from the second page on than it does on the title page.  

  • Double-click somewhere towards the top of the first page to open the header feature or toolbar.
  • You will see a box entitled ‘Different First Page.’ Click this.
  • To insert page numbering, select the ‘Page Numbers’ option, followed by ‘Top of Page,’ and then ‘Page Number 3.’
  • Next type the words ‘Running Head:’ and then in capital letters the short version (approximately two to three words) of your essay’s title. To move your running head from to the left-hand side, press the tab key.
  • Position the cursor in the header box on the second essay page.
  • To add page numbers, select the ‘Page Numbers’ option, followed by ‘Top of Page’ and then ‘Page Number 3.’
  • Using capital letters, type the short version of your essay’s title but without the words ‘Running Head:’ To move your header to the left, press the tab key.
  • When you are ready to close the header box, click on the red cross (X) in the toolbar.

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Formatting Pages

  • Font usage: Use a 12pt Times New Roman font.
  • Margin requirements: Margins of one inch should be used on all sides and the right-hand margin should not be aligned. This is how to create margins in MS Word: From the ‘Page Layout’ menu, select the ‘Margins’ option.
  • Spacing: Use double line spacing throughout your essay.
  • Indentation: The first line of every paragraph should be indented by half an inch. This can be achieved with one press of the tab key. 

How to handle main section and sub-section headings: If headings are requested by your tutor, these should be used to indicate new ideas or sections in a paper. A lot of papers are comprised of such sections as Introduction, Methodology, Findings, and Discussion. Where used, headings should be highlighted in bold and placed in the center. All words should be capitalized with the exception of “the,” “a,” “an” (articles) and “but,” “and,” “or,” etc. (conjunctions) and “to,” “on,” “in,” etc. (prepositions) unless a title or subtitle begins with these words.        

Referencing. You should add a reference page at the end if any sources have been cited in your essay.

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