APA 6th Edition Format – For Academic Writing

28.12.22 APA 6th Edition Time to read: 5min

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The APA style (American Psychological Association) in the 6th edition, although superseded by the 7th edition in 2019, remains an influential format in academic writing. When writing in APA 6th edition style, the writer must follow a specific structure and employ a consistent citation technique. Although the 7th edition introduced several changes, understanding the APA 6th edition remains valuable, particularly for interpreting older academic works.

APA 6th Edition Format – In a Nutshell

  • The APA 6th edition format was in-print from 2009 to 2019 when it was succeeded by the 7th edition format.
  • The APA 6th edition format saw a simplification and broadening of guidelines to match the growing disciplines outside of psychology that utilized it.
  • The general APA 6th edition format guidance is to write in 12-point Times New Roman text with a 1-inch margin and running head on every page.
  • Separate sections, like reference lists, abstracts, and title pages, have their own rules that should be followed.
  • Follow the APA 6th edition format rules for heading levels (from 1 to 5) in the proper subordination to give sections greater clarity.

Definition: APA 6th edition format

APA 6th edition format is now an outdated but still useful resource on how to organise an academic paper. Traditionally, APA was formulated by the American Psychological Association and its published manual of style has been in use since 1952. As such, the APA style is largely applied to psychology departments, among other behavioural sciences.

The APA 6th edition format published in 2009, however, adapted to a broader audience of disciplines outside of psychology. The APA style covers all aspects of paper writing, from the organisation of content on the page to reference citation. The APA 6th edition format introduced a number of changes to the formatting of a paper.

These included a wholesale simplification of the rules and increased guidance on specific details. In terms of APA 6th edition format requirements, the general guidance is to use :

  • 12-point Times New Roman throughout
  • A 1-inch margin on each page
  • Double line-spacing throughout
  • APA 6th edition running head on every page
  • All new paragraph requires a 0.5-inch indent
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APA 6th edition format – Running head

A running head is a repeated header found throughout the paper. In the APA 6th edition, you must include both the paper title (in the left-hand header) and page number (in the right-hand header) in the running head.

With paper titles that are longer than 50 characters, shorten them. You can do this by removing articles or by skipping lengthy subtitles.

On the APA 6th edition title page, you must include the words “Running head:” before this. Every subsequent page of the main body simply repeats the titling.


“On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”  can be simplified as “On the Origin of Species”.

This would be repeated in the top left-hand header in place of the full title. The full title, however, will appear as-is on the title page.

APA 6th edition format – Headings

With the APA 6th edition format, heading types are formatted differently.

  • Heading 1 is used for major headings, like chapter titles.
  • Each subsequent header level works as a sub-heading of the previous level.
  • This levelling refers to the content rather than its position in the text.

Many heading 2s can follow a heading 1, but a sub-heading of heading 2 must be formatted per heading 3.

Heading level APA 6th edition format
Heading 1 Centered, bold, title case capitalized
Heading 2 Left-aligned, bold, title case capitalized
Heading 3 Indented, bold, sentence case capitalization with a period at the end. The subsequent text continues straight after the period.
Heading 4 Indented, bold, italicized, sentence case capitalization with a period at the end. The subsequent text continues straight after the period.
Heading 5 Indented, italicized, sentence case capitalization with a period at the end. The subsequent text continues straight after the period.

APA 6th edition format – Title page

The title page is the first to appear in your paper. Here, you must include the full name of your paper/thesis, the full author name(s), not including titles, and the university/institution. A running head must also be included with the title page numbered 1 and the running title labelled “Running title:”.

APA 6th edition format – Abstract

In the APA 6th edition format, an abstract is a one-paragraph summary of your paper’s contents. It will introduce either an objective, research question or problem and how you’ll solve it. This includes a shortened outline of your methodology and research conclusions.

When creating an abstract in the APA 6th edition format, follow typical APA conventions but with a few changes. No styling should be applied throughout, and the first paragraph is not indented. Your abstract is followed by a list of keywords. Begin this section with an indented line and the first phrase “Keywords:” in italics, followed by your chosen keywords in plain text.

APA 6th edition format – Reference page

Your reference page or list is one of the final sections of your paper. Here, you’ll list all sources referenced directly in your paper in bibliographic detail.

As with other APA 6th edition format pages, you begin this section with the title “References” centred with the running head continuing throughout and a 1-inch margin. Each individual entry is listed alphabetically with double-space text. Apply a hanging indent of 0.5 inches for every entry’s second line onward.

APA 6th edition format – In-text citations

The APA 6th edition format advocates for in-text citation matched with a full reference list. Follow the citation guidelines in the APA style for success. As a general rule, footnotes or endnotes are discouraged and shouldn’t be used for citation. Instead, the formatting of in-text citations includes the author name(s), year and page number when quoting. When paraphrasing or referring to a general text, no page number is required.

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Your paper should be double-spaced and typed on standard A4 paper with 1-inch margins. The font should be easy to read with a 12-point Times New Roman font recommended.

The APA 6th edition recommends that a title page, abstract, main body and reference page are included in every paper. These account for the four main sections of your APA-style paper.

Yes. A running head is mandatory. Include a title and page number on each page with a title shortened to a maximum of 50 characters.

Your paper’s title, full author name(s) without titles and institutional affiliation should all be included on the title page. These appear centred on separate lines in the same font and text size.