How to Write an APA Paper

Updated: June 28, 2022

How to Write a Good APA Paper in 3 QUICK Steps

A disclaimer: an APA paper doesn’t differ from other academic works in terms of content or approach. The only difference between APA papers and other types of assignments is that the former are referenced using APA referencing style, an author-date citation method. Thus, you can complete well-written APA papers once you master the skill of correct APA referencing.

Here are the key three points required for proper APA paper completion:

  1. Indicate the author and date of publication you’re citing in the parentheses at the end of the sentence. Include a page number if you’re using a direct quote.
  2. Make your writing professional and impersonal. Avoid indicating your personal opinions or subjective judgments; go where the data takes you, and don’t use biased language.
  3. Don’t use contractions and slang; these language forms are unacceptable in academic writing.

With these APA paper guidelines, you’re undoubtedly better equipped for completing a well-written assignment. Look through our guide further to get some helpful insights as to how APA papers can be improved.

What is an APA Paper: Formatting Tips for Beginners

Now let’s dig deeper into the formatting style that APA presupposes. Here are the basic rules of formatting your assignment.

  • Don’t include personal statements and anecdotal data (e.g., your personal opinions or beliefs). Make sure all statements are evidence-based.
  • Strive to nominalization and personalization of your writing. Instead of saying, ‘I found’ or ‘I think,’ you should opt for more impersonal structures like “the study examines” or “evidence suggests that”).
  • Be sure to cite all used sources. But don’t overuse direct quotes as they usually denote a lack of critical insight into data. Try to paraphrase as much as you can, leaving only the essential facts and statistics.

Using these text formatting tips, you can achieve a much better level of text quality. As for the APA-specific formatting of in-text citations, here is a couple of handy examples to help you out.

  • Johnson and Johnson (2008) pointed out the significance of licensing and certification to develop the winemaking industry in France.
  • According to Johnson and Johnson (2008), “winemaking in France was shaped by the legal gains in licensing and certification” (p. 25).
  • Winemaking in France was heavily influenced by licensing and certification changes in the 18th century (Johnson & Johnson, 2008, p. 25).

Here are the three most common instances of using APA citations in the text. Follow this example and reference your sources correctly to avoid points deduction from your grade.

How to Start an APA Paper: Key Differences

There is generally no difference between the APA paper’s introduction and works referenced in other styles. The rule of thumb is to present the primary concept of analysis in the introductory part, give it some context and background, and delineate the significance of studying it. At the end of the introduction, you should include a thesis statement encapsulating the study’s objectives and hypotheses.

How to Structure an APA Paper – Full Checklist

APA papers are different, depending on the topic, subject, and length. However, most of them follow a universal format:

  • A title page with the information about you, your educational institution, and your topic.
  • An abstract (150-250 words summarizing the key points of your study).
  • Introduction (a section introducing your subject of investigation and clarifying the key definitions).
  • Method (a review of methods with which you collect information for the study).
  • Results (a report of what you’ve found and the significance of those findings).
  • Discussion (examination of the study’s implications and limitations).
  • Conclusion (a review of the thesis statement and wrap-up of key findings).
  • References (the list of outside sources you used and cited within the study).

The number of sections may be smaller for shorter works, such as essays, which may also be formatted in the APA style. Here, you’ll probably have a title page, the main essay text, and references. Inside the body of your essay, you should use the classical introduction-body-conclusion structure.

How to End an APA Paper / Citation Explained

At the end of any paper, you should restate the thesis statement and revisit the paper’s major points. Depending on your paper’s length, the readers may already forget your primary purpose and critical arguments, so it’s a good idea to recap everything briefly and concisely. As for APA citations, there should be none in the conclusion as you cite no new information and don’t need quotes here. The greatest mistake of the writers is to include new sources at the stage of concluding, so try to make a bullet-point list of your key findings, tie them to the thesis statement, and not deviate from this content in conclusion writing.

APA Paper Outline (with a Free Sample)

Let’s consider a classical 5-paragraph outline for an APA paper with a brief example of how it can be structured on a specific topic.

The rule of thumb is to complete an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

INTRODUCTION sets the context and introduces the problem you’re going to explore. It ends with a thesis statement stipulating what exactly will be researched.

BODY OF THE PAPER expands on the thesis statement, with each paragraph containing one key topic sentence (guiding idea) and evidence supporting it. It’s also good to supplement the evidence with your interpretation of those facts so that the readers see where the data guides you.

CONCLUSION is a section summing up the study and tying all arguments back to the original thesis statement.

Here is a quick example of how it looks in the process of writing the APA paper:


Cryptocurrencies have experienced a boom over the past decade. Statistics of crypto-asset capitalization and market growth.

Thesis statement: Increasing cryptocurrency use is a sign of growing distrust of governments and the pursuit of more democratic financial solutions.

Body of the Paper

Paragraph #1 – history of cryptocurrency. The philosophy behind Bitcoin.

Paragraph #2 – benefits of cryptocurrency in terms of lower commissions, greater access for the population, and immutability of systems with complete security assets.

Paragraph #3 – decentralization of crypto assets as the key driving factor for their increased adoption. Low commissions and avoidance of KYC requirements contributing to democratic, free transactions.


The features of permissionless access, privacy, low commissions, and decentralization make cryptocurrencies a more appealing financial medium than traditional financial structures. People look for less controlled financial solutions that are transparent and safe, finding these benefits in the blockchain.

As you can see, the APA paper’s outline is a standard one, with the essential structural elements on their places and an outline guiding the overall argument’s structuring.

APA Paper Introduction

Starting your APA paper with an introductory section, you should keep the following specifics in mind:

  • First, you should introduce the subject of your investigation to those who know nothing about it by giving its background, context, and definitions.
  • Include a brief statement (or a couple of statements) from credible literature sources to explain the subject and why it is essential.
  • Present ideas logically and consistently.
  • Delineate the problem connected to your subject.
  • Condense how you will approach that problem in your thesis statement or voice a hypothesis you have formulated about it.

APA Paper Body

The body of your APA paper may include separate subheadings (if the assignment is long enough) or be arranged into a couple of paragraphs. No matter the number of paragraphs, you should always structure paragraphs according to a classical formula: topic sentence – evidence – summary/transition. In this way, you will lead your readers through your evidence, giving them valuable clues about what each section is about and allowing them to navigate through your arguments easily.

APA Paper Conclusion

Wrapping everything up is the purpose of the conclusion. Here, you summarize findings and briefly repeat the key points of the assignment. It’s also vital to restate your thesis statement and point out how your evidence-informed its examination and analysis. Don’t include any new arguments in this part; your task is only to restate what you’ve already examined.

Final (and Most Important) Message

So, how to write an APA style paper so that it impresses your tutor and wins you the highest grade?

There are many secrets to writing success, but our writing pros single out the following tips as the most helpful:

  • Always keep the structure in mind and use your outline as a roadmap to writing.
  • Mind the paper’s consistency and flow. It’s the easiest to check for consistency by revisiting your thesis statement from time to time.
  • Incorporate both arguments and counterarguments in your narrative. In this way, you’ll show that you did a good job researching the subject and know it from multiple perspectives.

Good luck with your APA paper writing! Remember that you don’t need to go through this alone whenever you experience problems with academic assignments. Our essay writers are always available, ready to apply their writing talent and critical thinking to craft outstanding APA assignments for you.

George Lynch
George Lynch
Literature, Psychology, Religion
Experience: 3+ years
I’ve been enjoying academic writing since day one in college. Today, having a full-time job, I’m still looking forward to writing essays and research papers online for others.
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