How to Format APA Style in Microsoft Word

399264 How to Format APA Style in Microsoft Word

The American Psychological Association (APA) style is commonly used in academic writing, especially in the social sciences, to cite sources within the text and provide a reference list at the end of the paper. Properly formatting a paper in APA style makes citing sources easier for the reader and improves the clarity of communication.

Fortunately, Microsoft Word includes features that make formatting APA style papers simple. This article will walk you through the key steps for setting up APA formatting in Word.

Setting Page Margins and Line Spacing

Start by adjusting your document layout:

  • Set margins to 1 inch on all sides:
    • On the Layout tab, click Margins, and select Normal (1 inch all around)
  • Set line spacing to double spaced:
    • On the Home tab, click the Line and Paragraph Spacing icon
    • Choose 2.0 line spacing
    • Check the box for Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style

Adding Page Numbers

Insert page numbers in the top right corner:

  • On the Insert tab, click Page Number and choose Top of Page
  • Select Plain Number 3 to place numbers in the top right corner

Formatting the Title Page

Per APA style, papers should include a title page with:

  • Paper title
  • Author name(s)
  • Institutional affiliation

To format:

  • Center the title in bold text in upper and lowercase
  • Center author name(s) under title
  • Center institutional affiliation under author name(s)

Creating Headings

Break up text and organize ideas with headings. Use headings like:

## Heading Level 2
### Heading Level 3

Formatting In-Text Citations

Cite sources within the text using the author-date system:

Research shows the importance of early literacy (Smith, 2020).

Building the References List

The references page lists all sources cited in APA format:

  • Center the title References at the top
  • Organize alphabetically by authors’ last names
  • Use a hanging indent for each reference entry


Following these formatting guidelines will help you properly structure your APA style paper in Word. For additional guidance, refer to the latest APA style manual or Purdue OWL’s APA formatting resources. Using the correct format will make your work more accessible to readers.

About The Author