The Oxbridge Editing Blog 4th June 2024

How to Write an Essay in APA Format: A Comprehensive Guide with Examples

4th June 2024
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Writing an essay in APA format can initially seem challenging, but with the right guidance, it becomes a straightforward process. The APA (American Psychological Association) style is commonly used for citing sources within the social sciences. This article will provide a step-by-step guide on how to write an essay in APA format, complete with examples.

Understanding APA Format

Before diving into writing, it’s crucial to understand what the APA style entails. The APA style includes guidelines for various aspects of academic writing, such as the title page, abstract, main body, and references. These guidelines ensure clarity, consistency, and credibility in scholarly writing.

General Guidelines for APA Format

Font and Spacing

When preparing your essay, use a standard, easily readable font such as 12pt Times New Roman. Double-space all text, including the references, to enhance readability and provide space for comments or corrections. Additionally, include a page header, known as the “running head,” at the top of every page. This header should consist of a shortened version of your essay title, followed by the page number.

Margins and Alignment

Set 1-inch margins on all sides of your document. Align the text to the left-hand side, leaving the right-hand side ragged to maintain a clean, professional appearance. Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches to signal the start of a new paragraph.

Title Page

The title page of your essay is the first impression your reader will have, so it’s important to get it right. It should include the essay title, your name, and your institutional affiliation, all centred on the page. 


Effects of Social Media on Academic Performance

John Doe

University of Education


The abstract is a concise summary of your essay, usually no longer than 250 words. It provides a brief overview of the main points and findings of your essay, allowing readers to quickly understand the content and purpose of your work. Place the abstract on a separate page following the title page.


This study explores the impact of social media on students’ academic performance. Through a survey of 200 students, it was found that excessive use of social media has a negative effect on grades. The implications of these findings suggest a need for increased awareness and educational interventions.

Main Body

The main body of your essay should be well-structured and organised, consisting of the following sections:


The introduction sets the stage for your essay. Begin by introducing the topic, providing necessary background information, and stating your thesis or main argument. The thesis should be clear and concise, outlining the purpose and direction of your essay.


Introduction: The rapid growth of social media has sparked interest in understanding its effects on various aspects of life, including education. This essay examines how social media influences students’ academic performance. 


The method section describes the research methods or approaches you used in your study. Provide detailed information on how you collected and analysed your data, allowing others to replicate your study if desired.


A quantitative survey was conducted among 200 university students to gather data on their social media usage and academic performance. Participants were asked to report the average time spent on social media platforms and their grades.


In the results section, present the findings of your research. Use tables, graphs, or charts where appropriate to illustrate your data clearly. Ensure that you explain the significance of your findings in relation to your research question.


The discussion section interprets the results, discussing their implications and how they relate to your original thesis. Consider any limitations of your study and suggest areas for future research.


The findings suggest that while social media can offer educational benefits, its excessive use can hinder academic performance. Educational institutions should consider integrating social media literacy into their curriculum to help students manage their online time effectively. Future research could explore the impact of specific social media platforms on academic outcomes.

In-Text Citations and References

APA in-text citations guide readers to the full reference entry at the end of your essay. They must be included within the text when you quote or paraphrase someone else’s ideas or words to prevent plagiarism. APA style uses the so-called author-date system as per the example below.

The reference page is a crucial component of your essay, listing all sources cited in your work. Ensure each reference follows APA style, using a hanging indent for each entry. This not only gives credit to the original authors but also allows readers to locate the sources you used.


(Ross, 2022, p. 123)

Ross, J. A. (2022). The impact of social media on academic performance. Journal of Educational Research, 45(3), 123-134.

Tips for Writing an Essay in APA Format

Writing an essay in APA format requires careful attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you master an essay in APA format (and other popular style guides):

  1. Use Headings and Subheadings: Headings and subheadings help organise your essay and make it easier for readers to follow your argument. Follow APA guidelines for heading levels to maintain consistency.
  2. Cite Sources Properly: Proper citation is crucial in academic writing. Always give credit to the original authors of the sources you use. In-text citations should include the author’s last name and the year of publication, while the reference list should provide full publication details.
  3. Proofread and Edit: Before submitting your essay, thoroughly proofread and edit it to ensure it is free from grammatical errors and follows APA format strictly. Consider using writing tools or seeking feedback from peers to improve the quality of your essay.

You can effectively write an essay in APA format that meets academic standards by following these guidelines. The key is to stay organised, pay attention to detail, and adhere to the specific rules of APA style. With practice, writing in APA format will become second nature, helping you produce polished and professional academic papers.

How Our Academic Essay Editing Services Can Help You

Struggling with APA formatting? Our professional academic editors can help you enusre that your essays adhere to the APA style guide, enhancing the clarity and credibility of your work.  Don’t let formatting issues detract from your academic achievements. With our assistance, you can focus on your content while we handle the technical details. Get a bespoke quote now and elevate your essays to meet the highest academic standards.