Psychology: APA Format Summary
Mount Allison University
Revised September 2011
Psychology: APA Format Summary
APA stands for the “American Psychological Association,” which has a specific format for manuscripts that is published in a Manual called the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition. It is the standard that is followed by psychologists who are submitting articles for publication to journals. Mount Allison’s Psychology department follows the format outlined in the manual for all written assignments, including essays, lab reports, and correspondence courses. (Many different departments have their own standard format, such as Chicago, or MLA).
This document has been developed to aid those just learning APA style. It therefore gives the minimum information that is necessary for 2nd year reports and papers. In 3rd and 4th year, you may be required to include more APA formatting than is outlined in this document. Therefore, you should always take note of what your instructor or professor requires. If you are looking for details on APA format that are not covered here, you should check the APA Manual. Current editions of the manual are available in the Psychology Department, the library, and the bookstore. Students who are majoring in Psychology (or other disciplines that have adopted APA style), especially directed studies and Honours students should consider purchasing the APA Manual in their 3rd or 4th year of study.
General Requirements of APA Format
The following list outlines the basic formatting requirements of APA papers. Your lab reports and papers should be formatted in this way:
Use full sentences and paragraphs, unless otherwise specified
Type and double-space the entire document (exception: drawings and/or math)
Use one-inch (2.5 cm) margins on sides, top, and bottom
Number all pages in the top right corner, beginning with the title page
Page numbers should be the same font & font size as the body of the text
Left-justify (straight edges on left, jagged on the right, like this document)
Indent each paragraph
No extra spaces between paragraphs
Use a 12 point SERIF style font for the body of the text (these are fonts that have
Use a 12 point SANS SERIF style for tables and figures (these are fonts that are plain
“curls” on the letters, such as Times New Roman, Cambria, or Garamond)
looking, without the extra lines and curls on the ends of the letters, such as Calibri, Tahoma, or Arial)
A note on numbers: The general rule is that numbers above ten must be presented numerically (e.g.: 65) and numbers ten and under should be spelled out (unless they are presenting statistical data). For example, you would say “The researchers administered three measures of depression to 67 participants.” The exception to this is that numbers are always spelled out when beginning a sentence (i.e.: “Thirty-seven students participated in the….”).
The basic writing style for an APA paper or report should be clear and concise; you are not telling a story – you are writing scientifically. Pay extra attention to grammar, spelling, and biased language (i.e.: “men” instead of “people”). Use a more formal style and avoid the use of jargon and colloquial writing. It is a good idea to get your paper completed ahead of time and set it aside for a day or two, then re-read it for errors. It can also help to have a friend or family
member read your paper to see if it is clear and to the point, or you can try reading it aloud, which often helps to highlight errors that you don’t notice while you are writing. For more information on writing style, see the resources section at the end of this paper.
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