Q. Should my text be left-aligned or justified if Im using the APA Style …

Q. Should my text be left-aligned or justified if Im using the APA Style …

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Answered By: Theresa Bell
Last Updated: Nov 15, 2017     Views: 50761

Align the text in the body of your paper flush against the left margin with an uneven or ragged right margin (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 229). Do not use justified alignment (e.g., the text is equally spread across the width of the page) (p. 229). Please see the alignment in the  APA Help Guide for an example.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. 

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  1. CSS Library

  2. CSSLibraryGuides

  3. Citation Guides

  4. Citation Help for APA, 6th Edition

  5. Formatting Your Paper

Citation Help for APA, 6th Edition: Formatting Your Paper

Help with common issues and questions with APA 6th ed. Citation Style.

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Paper Set Up

APA has a number of rules that your instructor may want you to follow. The following information came from the 6th edition of the APA Manual. See the page number that follows each style rule for more information.

NOTE: Your instructor may prefer slight changes to these rules. Check with your instructor for any variations.

Document Format:
Margins – 1 inch all sides, including top, bottom, left and right (p. 229)

Font preference and size – The preferred font is 12-pt Times New Roman. (p. 228)

Line Spacing – Double spacing should occur throughout the document, including quotations of 40 or more words. (pp. 171 & 229)

Page Numbers – Page numbers should be located in upper right corner, unless specified differently from your instructor. Be sure to include a page number on the title page, too! (p. 230)

Paragraph Indentation – Paragraphs should be indented 5-7spaces or 1/2 inch. (p. 229)


Setting up your Paper in Proper APA Style  – this is a video tutorial created by the CSS Library. It will demonstrate how to set up a paper in proper APA Style in Word for a PC. 

YouTube video that shows how to set up MS-Word for APA format 

Atomic Learning  – Many short tutorials on all aspects of APA from how to create a title page to compiling your references. You will have to log in with your network username and password (same as for Blackboard and CSS email). To find the tutorials, click on Workshops.

APA Headings

To separate the parts within the body of your paper, APA has five different levels of headings. Think of these levels similar to what an outline has and how the main topics have Roman numerals, subtopics have capital letters, the next level has Arabic numbers and so on.

Ask your professor if they wish to have you use headings in your paper. Long, formal papers should have headings especially if they include an abstract at the beginning.

Here are the five levels and how they should be formatted:

1. Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading

2. Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading

3. Indented five spaces, boldface, lowercase heading with a period. Begin the text of your first sentence after the period.

4. Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period. Begin the text of your first sentence after the period.

5. Indented, italicized, lowercase heading with a period. Begin the text of your first sentence after the period.

Reference List

Always start your reference list on a new page.

Page title – The word References should appear centered at the top of the page. If you have only 1 citation the title should be Reference.

Line Spacing – Double space between each line. (p. 180)

Alignment – The first line of each entry should align with the left margin. All subsequent lines should be indented 5 spaces or set a hanging indent at 1/2 inch. (p. 180)

Order of entries – Alphabetical order by author. If there is no author, use the title of the document. If you have more than one entry by the same author, then arrange by year beginning with the earliest publication. (p. 181)

Pre-formated paper for Word

  • Pre-formatted APA template for Word

    Download, fill in the blanks, and then you can focus on content.

Advanced Formatting Help from APA

  • How to do Abstract and Keywords

    From page 41 in APA Manual

  • How to do Appendices

    From page 39 in APA Manual

  • Figures

    From page 153 in APA Manual

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  • Last Updated: Nov 30, 2018 12:59 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.css.edu/APA6thEd
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