APA style -- created by the American Psychological Association and used by many colleges, institutes and publications -- requires certain types and sizes of paragraph indentations. In the body of an APA paper, the first line of each paragraph must begin one half inch away from the left margin, and the following lines must begin flush against the margin. In the reference list, the format reverses: The first line starts at the margin, and subsequent lines are indented half an inch. To apply these rules in Microsoft Word 2007 or 2010, use the Paragraph dialog box.
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Many colleges or courses require APA style for student papers.
Body of the Paper
Select all the text in the body of the paper, if you already wrote it. If you're beginning the paper, simply click where you want to begin indenting.
Click the "Home" tab on the Ribbon.
Open the Paragraph dialog box by clicking the diagonal arrow, pointing downward and to the left, in the left lower corner of the Paragraph group on the Ribbon.
Click the "Indents and Spacing" tab at the top of the dialog box.
Click the field labeled "Special"; on the drop-down menu, click "First line." Word will automatically set the indentation size to half an inch, which is the correct size for APA format.
Click "OK" at the bottom of the dialog box.
Select all the citations, if you already wrote them, or click where you plan to begin writing the citations.
Open the Paragraph dialog box again.
Click the "Special" field again; this time, select "Hanging" from the drop-down menu. Word will automatically set the indentation size to half an inch, which is the correct size for APA format.
When formatting a document according to the APA Style rules, include a reference list rather than a bibliography or a works cited page (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 180). Remember that all the reference list entries must be formatted according to the APA Style rules, and all recoverable resources cited in the text must be included in the reference list (p. 180). Likewise, all resources listed in the reference page must be cited within the text. Personal communication should not be cited in the references because it doesn't provide recoverable data (p. 180).
The references should start on a new page in the document and the title of the page should be “References”, which should be centred and in regular font without bolding or underlining (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 37). If only one reference appears on the page, the title should be “Reference”. Please see page 9 in the Sample One-Experiment Paperto view the correct formatting of the page title. Unless your program or instructor directs you to do otherwise, your references should be double-spaced (p. 37).
Format each reference with a hanging indent, which means that the first line of each reference entry is aligned flush with the left margin and each subsequent line has a hanging indent of 1.27 cm or 0.5 inches (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 37). Please see page 9 in the Sample One-Experiment Paper to view the correct formatting of references with hanging indents. The text must be able to wrap naturally; do not hit “enter” at the end of each line of information. To format a hanging indent, use the appropriate path for your version of Microsoft Word to access the Paragraph formatting options, and under "Indentation", choose “Hanging” under "Special" and set the indent under "By" to 0.5" or 1.27 cm.
For more information regarding creating a reference list, please see pages 180-192 in the APA manual. For information on formatting references for specific types of resources, please search WriteAnswers by keyword (e.g., ebook, journal), look up the relevant example in Chapter 7 of the APA manual, or search the APA Style Blog. Please also see the "APA Style References Checklist".
American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.