Common error students make trying to make their paper look pretty, instead of using APA style.

Running head: APA SAMPLE PAPER (no more than 50 characters) 1


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Aspen University

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Name of Professor with credentials

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APA Sample Paper (centered on first page)

This is your first paragraph, it comes immediately after the repeated title. Note that is should not have the title of, “Introduction,” as this is assumed. Also notice that everything is double-spaced. Because this is a paragraph, it needs at least three sentences. Always indent 0.5 inches for paragraphs. To set up Word to do this automatically, go into your paragraph options. Under the indentation tab or section, find “Special” and choose “first line” by 0.5. This is the same place where you can set up your references to be in “hanging” paragraph format. Also, under the tab or section that says “spacing” you can set line spacing to double. Be sure left and right indentation and before and after spacing is set to 0.

First Heading (Level One)

Begin your first essay here, immediately after the first heading, also known as a level one subheading. Please note that the subheading is bold, centered, and the first letter of each main word is capitalized. The subheading should not be a repeat of the question. It should be also short enough to fit all on one line.

Level Two Subheading

The level two subheading is a further breakdown of the level one subheading. For example, you might use a level two subheading if you were completing a case study with a number of questions. This type of subheading is bold, flush left, and has the first letter of each major word capitalized. Again, it should fit all on one line and not be an exact repeat of the question.

Level three subheading. A level three subheading is a further breakdown from the level two subheading. You might use this if there multiple parts to one of the questions in a case study. This type of subheading is bold and indented on the first line of the paragraph. Note that only the first letter of the first word is capitalized and a period follows the subheading. For this level, the text of the paragraph starts immediately after the period.

Level four subheading. The level four subheading is a further breakdown of the level three subheading. It is to be bold, italicized, and only the first letter of the first word is capitalized. For this level, just as in level three, the texts starts immediately after the period.

Level five. A level five subheading is a further breakdown of a level four subheading. It is not bold, but only italicize, and again only the first letter of the first word is capitalized. For this level, just as in level three and four, the text starts immediately after the period.

General APA Writing Tips

Do not refer to yourself in the first person. You would not say, “I believe this is a good idea”. One might say, “This student believes this is a good idea”. Be clear and concise in your writing. Avoid using any slang in any way. This also means you would not say something like, “She gave him the third degree”. “Third degree” is slang, and should not be included in scholarly writing. Avoid contractions in your writing. Do not say someone can’t, say that someone cannot. Do you see how that sounds better?


When you are writing your references, make sure that every reference that has been cited in the paper is on the list. Also do the reverse. Make sure that every reference on your reference list is cited in the paper. Please see detailed instructions for how to cite in a paper, as well as the proper reference list, under resources. It is titled, “APA Citations”. The reference list needs its own page. “References” is not in bold, like the other headers. It is not underlined or italicized. It is simply, “References”. Even though the list may seem long, the reference list is also double-spaced. Do not add extra spaces in between references, just as you do not add extra spaces between paragraphs or before or after subheadings.

Page Breaks

Sometimes students chose to space down to start a new page. The problem with that is when the assignment is uploaded to TurnItIn or opened on a different computer with a different version of Word, the spacing can be distorted. Rather than spacing down, use a page break between the title page and the essay and between the essay and the reference page. To add a page break in Word, click on Insert and choose Page Break.


A common error students make it trying to make their paper look pretty, instead of using APA style. This means that the title page will look boring, the paper will always be flush left, and the reference page will be double-spaced. This is what a scholarly paper looks like. It looks like this every single time. Do not distract your educated reader with your desire to make it look less boring. Remember, you can do it. APA is a journey of learning. You will not master it in your first paper, although if you diligently use the resources, it is a possibility. You should aim to do a little better each paper, until you finally reach the perfect APA paper. On the reference list you will find examples of real references.


Ellis, D. A., Frey, M. A., Naar-King, S., Templin, T. (2005). Use of multisystemic therapy to improve regimen adherence among adolescents with type 1 diabetes in chronic poor metabolic control: A randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Care, 28(7), 1604-10. doi:10.1108/03090560710821161

Fowler, F. (2013). Policy studies for educational leaders (4th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

McCance, K.A. & Huether, S.E. (2010). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (6th ed.). St. Louis: Mosby.

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