Students should verify with their instructors that an abstract is required. An abstract is typed in block format with no indentation. The abstract briefly summarizes the essay in a paragraph and includes what was studied, why it was studied, and the results. It enables the readers to fully understand the content and conclusions of the paper. It is generally easier to write the abstract after finishing the paper. Be sure the abstract is written separately from the essay but that it is included in the same document so that the heading pages are consistent.
Sample APA Essay: WCCS Writing Center Example
Writing an essay can be an overwhelming process, but following a clear example helps the writer develop an organized, insightful piece. The first step is to indent and write the introduction, which includes three parts: the hook (general statement to capture the audience’s attention), the transition (one to several sentences that help connect the hook to the thesis and provide background information), and the thesis (a statement that specifies the content of the essay). An excellent paper in APA, the style often used for psychology, business, sociology, and nursing disciplines, will represent correct formatting and accurately use resources to make a specific point and draw conclusions.
Correct formatting begins with the basics: font size and type, headings, margins, and spacing. The entire paper should be written in 12 pt., Times New Roman font. Headings are not mandatory but are often utilized to help organize information. There are three headings in this essay: two for the subtopics of the thesis and one for the conclusion. They provide an easy system for the reader to categorize and follow information, especially in longer papers. At Wallace Community College Selma, most of the research papers are shorter and will likely only use first-level headings. First-level headings must be bolded and centered. If second-level headings are needed to further divide information, these must be bolded and left-justified. Wallace’s Write Now! The DK Handbook shows how to format all heading levels (Wysocki & Lynch, 2013, pg. 406). Margins are one inch on the top, bottom, left, and right. The entire paper must be double-spaced. This means there are no additional spaces between paragraphs on any section of the paper: the abstract, the main essay, or the Reference page.
Correct formatting also includes the title page and the headers. As demonstrated in this essay’s title page, the words Running head followed by a colon and the abbreviated title (in all caps) should be included in the top left corner, inserted as a header. The top right of the header will include the page number. Note that throughout the essay, the heading stays consistent but no longer says Running head. This requires checking the box that says Different First Page when creating the header. Other information to include on the title page is the essay’s full title, the student’s name, and the student’s university or college. This information is centered and placed approximately half-way down the page (Wysocki & Lynch, 2013, pg. 396). Many instructors, however, also require a class or section number and sometimes additional information. Students must always follow their instructors’ directions and remember that these instructions trump any standard APA protocol.
Bolding is another aspect of formatting that is often misused. In APA, only headings are bolded. According to the American Psychological Association (2013), “Use regular font formatting (no boldface or italics) for all section titles, such as Abstract, Author Note, Title. . . References, Appendix/Appendices, and Footnotes. These are not headings but labels for these sections.” Many students are tempted to capitalize these labels, but it is important to follow proper APA rules.
Use of Resources
Most papers written in APA formatting require extensive research. Unfortunately, many students inaccurately use resources, often leading to confusing information and, worse, unintentional plagiarism. Plagiarism is using someone else’s ideas or structural patterns without giving the author proper credit. In order to avoid plagiarism, writers must remember that any time they refer to information they did not know prior to conducting research, they must cite their sources (Wysocki & Lynch, 2013, pg. 293).
Citation can be direct or indirect. Direct citation, using the exact wording of a source, requires putting these borrowed words in quotation marks and providing in-text documentation about the author, the page number, the publication date, and other pertinent information to correspond with the References list. (Note: This essay capitalizes References to denote correct punctuation of the document itself.) However, if direct citations are longer than 40 words, students must create a block quote by indenting the quote and not using the quotation marks. The Write Now! DK Handbook (2013) offers specific examples of how to properly cite sources. According to this handbook, “The overall purpose of an in-text citation is to help readers see your cited sources for themselves. . . .In-text citations also help give your writing authority” (Wysocki & Lynch, pg. 342). Indirect citations—a paraphrase or summary of someone else’s ideas—also require full citation; the only citation difference is that they do not include quotation marks (American Psychological Association, 2013). In-text citation is vital to properly documenting sources and avoiding plagiarism. Anytime an author borrows someone else’s ideas, phrasing, or sentence structure, the author must provide correct citation.
The Reference list complements the in-text citations and provides full information for each source used so that readers can easily locate the original sources. When compiling a Reference list, the first step is to decide if the source is periodical (printed regularly) or nonperiodical (Wysocki & Lynch,2013, pg. 415). Pages 416-419 in Write Now! The DK Handbook (Wysocki & Lynch, 2013) provide a starting place for correct documentation for the Reference list. Entries are alphabetized by the first word, always the source’s author unless there is no author. In this case, entries are listed by the title of the work. Entries are formatted using hanging indentation to help the reader easily locate each source. This essay’s Reference list includes a web-based source and a print source, both excellent resources for writing any type of research paper in APA style. Page 438 in Write Now! The DK Handbook (Wysocki & Lynch, 2013) offers additional examples of the Reference list.
Writing a research paper can feel like a daunting task, but clear formatting and correct use of resources will help the writer clearly communicate his or her ideas. These papers are an opportunity to gather and synthesize existing information, while also drawing new conclusions and helping challenge people to think and act differently. Research writing is a valuable learning tool for both the student and the reader.
American Psychological Association. (2013). APA style. Retrieved from http://apastyle.org/learn/quick-guide-on-formatting.aspx#Running%20head
Wysocki, A. & Lynch, D. (2013). Write now! The DK handbook with exercises. (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions.