Running head: sample paper a sample Paper for the Purpose of Correct Formatting

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Running head: SAMPLE PAPER

A Sample Paper for the Purpose of Correct Formatting

Student Name

Liberty University

Per the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA; 6th edition), double-space the entire paper, except with charts or tables. Do not add any extra spacing, except with page breaks between chapters (for very long papers), between the cover and first page, and between the last page and the reference section. Use Times Roman, 12-point font. Do not use bold except for headings. Margins are set for one inch on top, bottom, and sides. Add two spaces after punctuation at the end of each sentence. The header on the cover page is different from the headers on the rest of the paper. Only the cover page header includes the words Running head (without the italics). The header is flush left but the page numbers are flush right. Make sure the header font is the same as the rest of the paper. Handouts on how to format the cover page (as well as other handouts) are available on the Online Writing Center’s webpage:, and a YouTube video demonstration is available at v= KUjhwGmhDrI
Note: Comments inside boxes are not part of the formatting of the paper. Most citations within the body of this paper are fictional, for instructional purposes only, and will not be included in the reference list accordingly.

Note: Center the following information in the top half of the page: title, your name, and school name. Some professors require the course title and section, the instructor’s name, and the date; add those on the lines beneath the required title page information. Do not use contractions in formal papers—either in the title or the body of the paper (i.e., use “do not” rather than “don’t”). Titles should include no more than 12 words. Titles use upper and lowercase letters (i.e., “title case”).
Note: This paper reflects the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Last updated November 20, 2015.


Begin your abstract at the left margin. This is the only paragraph that should not be indented. Unless otherwise instructed, APA recommends an abstract be between 150–250 words. It should not contain any citations or direct quotes. This should be a tight, concise summary of the main points in your paper, not a step-by-step of what you plan to accomplish in your paper. Avoid phrases such as “this paper will,” and just structure your sentences to say what you want to say. The following three sentences exemplify a good abstract style: There are many similarities and differences between the codes of ethics for the ACA and the AACC. Both include similar mandates in the areas of ----, ---, and ---. But each differs significantly in the areas of ---, ---, and ---. For more detailed information, see “Writing an Abstract” at academics/graduate/ writing/?PID=12268 This is just now at 155 words, so take a moment to eyeball how brief your abstract must be. Think of your paper as a movie, and the abstract as the summary of the plot that you would share to draw people’s interest into wanting to come and see your movie. Same thing: you want to really hook and intrigue them. What you have to say is important! Still only at 221 words here; remember to try to stay under 250, unless your professor advises otherwise.

Keywords: main words, primary, necessary, search terms

A Sample Paper for the Purpose of Correct Formatting

The title of your paper goes on the top line of the first page of the body. It should be centered, unbolded, and in title case (all major words—usually those with four+ letters—should begin with a capital letter). You can either give a brief introductory paragraph below that or go straight into a Level 1 heading. In APA format, the Introduction never has a heading (simply begin with an introductory paragraph without the word "Introduction"); see page 63 of your APA Manual (American Psychological Association [APA], 2010). As shown in the previous sentence, use brackets to denote an abbreviation within parentheses. Write out acronyms the first time mentioned, such as American Psychological Association for APA, and then use the acronym throughout the body of the paper.

Parenthetical citations include the author(s) and year of publication; include the page or paragraph number if you also use a direct quote. Page numbers should be used for any printed material (books, articles, etc.), and paragraph numbers should be used in the absence of page numbers (online articles, webpages, etc.). Use p. for one page and pp. (not italicized in your paper) for more than one. Use para. for one paragraph and paras. (also not capitalized in your paper) for two or more. For example: (Owen, 2015, pp. 12–13) or (Exodus, 2012, para. 8).

Basic Rules of Scholarly Writing

Since most beginning students will have difficulty learning how to write papers and also format papers correctly using the sixth edition of the APA Manual (APA, 2010), this sample paper can be used as a template for inserting the correct parts. For the purpose of instruction, it will use second person (you, your), but third person (this author) must be used in student papers. First person (I, me, we, us, our) is not generally permitted in scholarly papers. Students should refrain from using first or second person unless the assignment instructions clearly permit such (as in the case of personal reflection sections or life histories).

Though some written assignments will not require an abstract, understand that APA generally requires one unless otherwise stated in your assignment instructions or grading rubric. Some assignments require an outline or annotated bibliography. APA does not regulate every type of paper, including those two forms. In those cases, follow your professor’s instructions and the grading rubric for the content and format of the outline or annotations, and use standard APA formatting for all other elements (i.e., title page, header/running head, abstract, body of paper, and reference list, double-spaced, with 1” margins, and Times New Romans 12-point font).

Heading Levels—Level 1

This sample paper uses primarily one level of headings (Level 1), so each heading presented herein is centered and in boldface. APA, however, has five heading levels, which will be demonstrated briefly for visual purposes. See page 62 of your APA Manual (APA, 2010) if employing more than one level. Level 1 and 2 headings are bolded and in title case — capitalize each major word (usually those with four or more letters), including hyphenated compound words. Four-Year Pilot Study on Attachment Disorders, and Self-Awareness of Pollen are examples of headings with compound words. Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the) in headings unless they begin a title or follow a colon.

Level 2 Heading

Level 2 headings are bolded, in title case, and left-justified. The supporting information is posed in standard paragraph form beneath it. Never use only one of any level of heading. You must use two or more of any level you use, though not every paper will require more than one level.

Level 3 heading. Is bolded, indented ½”, in sentence case (only the first word should begin with a capital letter in most cases), and ends with a period. Add two spaces, then begin typing your content on the same line, as presented in this paragraph.

Level 4 heading. Same as Level 3, except italicized, too.

Level 5 heading. Same as Level 4, but unbolded. Despite heavy writing experience, this author has never used Level 5 headings.

Annotated Bibliographies, Tables of Contents, and Outlines

A few requirements in various assignments are not addressed in the APA Manual such as outlines, tables of content, and annotated bibliographies.  In those cases, the professor's instructions rule … but standard formatting applies (such as header/running head, title page, body, reference list, 1" margins, double-spacing, Times New Romans 12-point font, etc.). 

That being said, when I organize outlines in APA format, I set my headings up in the proper levels (making sure there are at least two subheadings under each level), and then I use those to make the entries in the outline.  Level 1 headings become Roman Numbers (I, II, III), Level 2 headings become capital letters (A, B, C), Level 3 headings become numbers (1, 2, 3), and Level 4 headings become lowercase letters (a, b, c). 


Appendices, if any, are attached after the reference list. You must refer to them in the body of your paper so that your reader knows to look there. The word “Appendix” is singular; use it to refer to individual appendices. I am attaching a sample Annotated Bibliography as a visual aid in “Appendix A.” You will see that I included the title “Appendix A” at the top of the page and formatted it in standard APA format beneath that.

Crediting Your Sources

Paraphrasing is rephrasing another’s idea in one’s own words. Quoting is using another’s exact words. Both need to be cited; failure to do so constitutes plagiarism. Include the author(s) and year for paraphrases and the author(s), year, and page or paragraph number for direct quotes. Section 6.04 of the APA Manual (APA, 2010) says, “When paraphrasing or referring to an idea contained in another work, you are encouraged to provide a page or paragraph number, especially when it would help an interested reader locate the relevant passage in a long or complex text” (p. 171). When naming authors in the text of the sentence itself (called a narrative citation), use the word “and” to connect them. For example, “Adams, Brown, and Captain (2001) contemplated that . . .” Use an ampersand (&) in place of the word “and” in parenthetical citations and reference lists: (Adams, Brown, & Captain, 2001).

APA’s official rule is that you must cite your source every single time you refer to material you gleaned from it (APA, 2010, pp. 15-16). You can vary your sentence structure to include both narrative and parenthetical citations in order to avoid redundancy. There is, however, an unofficial trend amongst some professors who require their students to cite their sources only once per paragraph (the first time you refer to it, not merely at the end of the paragraph, which can be interpreted as an afterthought), despite this being in conflict with standard APA formatting.  You will want to clarify which your professor prefers; if in doubt, cite every time.

That being said, APA has a special rule that excludes the year of publication in narrative in-text citations (when you name the authors in the text of the sentence itself), after the first citation in each paragraph ... provided that first citation is narrative (and not parenthetical). It should continue to appear in all parenthetical citations (See APA Manual, section 6.11, pp. 174-175). If the first citation in the paragraph is parenthetical, then ALL citations must include the year. The two examples on pages 174 and 175 are subtle, but if you look carefully, you will be able to discern this for yourself.

If the material you cited was referred to in multiple resources, separate different sets of authors with semicolons, arranged in the order they appear (alphabetically by the first author’s last name) in the reference list (Arnold, 2008; Broward & Dade, 1998; Peterson, Rowe, & Collins, 2011). Periods are placed after the closing parenthesis, except with indented (blocked) quotes. Quotes that are 40 or more words must be blocked, with the left margin of the entire quote indented ½ inch. Maintain double-spacing of block quotes. APA prefers that you introduce quotes, but note that the punctuation falls at the end of the direct quote, with the page number outside of that (which is contrary to punctuation for non-blocked quotes). For example, Ariens (2008) claims (note that there are no quotation marks for block quotes, as shown below):

Half of a peanut butter sandwich contains as much bacteria as the wisp of the planet Mars. Thus, practicality requires that Mrs. Spotiker nibble one bit at a time until she is assured that she will not perish from ingesting it too quickly. (p. 13)

Usually quotes within quotes use single quotation marks, but use double quotation marks for quotes within blocked quotes, since there are no other quotation marks included within. Also understand that direct quotes should be used sparingly in scholarly writing; paraphrasing is much preferred in APA format. Only use quotes when changing the wording would change the original author’s meaning. You cannot simply change one word and omit a second; if you paraphrase, the wording must be substantially different, but with the same meaning. Regardless, you would need to cite the resource you took this information from.

Authors with more than one work published in the same year are distinguished by lower-cased letters after the years, beginning with a. For example, Gray (2012a) and Gray (2012b) would refer to resources by the same author published in 2012. If there are two different authors with the same last name, but different first names, who published in the same year, include the first initials: Brown, J. (2009) and Brown, M. (2009).

The names of journals, books, plays, and other long works, if mentioned in the body of the paper, are italicized; titles of articles, lectures, poems, chapters, website articles, and songs are encapsulated by quotation marks. The year of publication should always follow the author(s)’s name, whether in narrative or parenthetical format: Eagan (2015) anticipated, or (Eagan, 2015). The page or paragraph number must follow after the direct quote. Freemont (2011) asserted that “paper planes can fly to the moon” (p. 13). You can restate that with a parenthetical citation as: “Paper planes can fly to the moon” (Freemont, 2011, p. 13).

Citations in the body of the paper should include only the last names, unless you have two or more resources authored by individuals with the same last name in the same year. Numbers one through nine must be written out in word format, with some exceptions (such as ages—see section 4.32 on page 112 of your APA Manual). Numbers 10 and up must be written out in numerical format. Always write out in word format any number that begins a sentence.

Three or More Authors

When referring to material that comes from three to five authors, include all of the authors’ last names in the first reference. Subsequently, use just the first author’s last name followed by the words et al. (without italics). Et al. is a Latin abbreviation for et alii, meaning “and others,” which is why the word “al.” has a period, whereas “et” does not. When a work has six or more authors, cite only the last name of the first author, followed by et al., as if you had already cited all of the authors previously.

For seven or fewer authors in the references, write out the authors’ last names with first- and middle-name initials, up to and including the seventh author. APA has a special rule for resources with eight or more authors: write out the first six authors’ last names with initials, insert an ellipsis (…) in place of the ampersand (&), and finish it with the last name and initials of the last author. See the examples provided in the reference list for visuals of these variances.

Primary Sources versus Secondary Sources

APA strongly advocates against using secondary sources; rather, it favors you finding and citing the original (primary) resource whenever possible. On the rare occasion that you do find it necessary to cite from a secondary source, both the primary (who said it) and secondary (where the quote or idea was mentioned) sources should be included in the in-text citation information. Only the secondary source should be listed in the reference section, however. Use “as cited in” (without the quotation marks) to indicate the secondary source. For example, James Morgan hinted that “goat milk makes the best ice cream” (as cited in Newton, 2001, p. 117). Morgan is the primary source (he said it) and Newton is the secondary source (he quoted what Morgan said). Only the secondary source is listed in the reference section (Newton, and not Morgan) because if readers want to confirm the quote, they know to go to page 117 of Newton’s book.

Personal Communication and Classical Work

Personal Communications

The APA Manual rationalizes the exclusion of references for information obtained through personal communication (such as an interview, email, telephone call, postcard, text message, or letter) in the reference list because your readers will not be able to go directly to those sources and verify the legitimacy of the material. Instead, these items are cited only in the body of the paper. You must include the individual’s first initial, his or her last name, the phrase “personal communication,” and the full date of such communication. As with other citations, such citations may be either narrative or parenthetical. For example, L. Applebaum advised him to dip pretzel rolls in cheese fondue (personal communication, July 13, 2015). The alternative is that he was advised to dip pretzel rolls in cheese fondue (L. Applebaum, personal communication, July 13, 2015).

Classical Works

Classical works, such as the Bible, Qur’an, and ancient Greek or Roman works, are also cited in the body of the paper but not included in the reference list. If you use a direct quote, you must include the full name of the version or translation you quoted from the first time you quote from it, but then you do not name the version or translation again in subsequent quotes unless you change versions or translations. For example, Philippians 2:14 commands us to “Do everything without complaining and arguing” (New Living Translation). James 1:27 proclaims that “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” Galatians 5:22 says that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (New American Standard). Note that there is no translation cited for the middle quote, since it was also taken from the NLT, which was specified in the immediately-preceding citation as well. Remember not to include any version when you paraphrase the Bible because all versions essentially say the same message in each verse, so a paraphrase of one would apply equally to all versions.

Lectures and PowerPoints

Course or seminar handouts, lecture notes, and PowerPoint presentations are treated like personal communications unless they are published in material that can be readily retrieved by your audience, like on a website. When citing a PowerPoint presentation, include the slide number rather than the page number.

Dictionary Entries

The proper format for citing and referencing word definitions from dictionaries differs from other citations and references because the word defined is used in the author’s position, followed by the year (if known, or n.d. if not known). This is followed by “In” and the name of the dictionary (i.e., Merriam Webster), and includes a URL to the webpage if searched online. If you used a hard copy book, include the standard city, state, and publisher details. The in-text citation in the body of the paper would also use the word searched in the author’s place, as well as the year: (Scholarly, n.d.).

Exhaustive Samples Available

For a chart of a myriad of different sources and how each is formatted in proper APA format, look for the “Downloadable version of the OWL Purdue information on APA citations” on Liberty University’s Online Writing Center’s “APA Formatting” webpage: http://www.

Electronic Sources

The APA, author of the APA Manual, published a blog entry on how to cite documents found on the Internet (see It includes a .pdf chart with all the possible combinations, depending on what information you have or are missing (see http://blog.

APA requires inclusion of a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) in the references whenever available. These should be denoted in lower case (doi), and note that there should be no punctuation after the doi in your reference list. If you cite “Retrieved from” with a URL, note that APA 6th does not include the date of retrieval “…unless the source material may change over time (e.g., Wikis)” (APA, 2010, p. 192). Some of the hyperlinks in this paper are activated (showing blue, underlined text) for the purposes of visualization, but hyperlinks should be removed in scholarly papers --- and they should only appear in the reference list. To do this, right click the hyperlink in Microsoft Word and choose “remove hyperlink.” Like DOI’s, there should be no period after the URL. APA encourages breaking long URL’s with soft returns (hold down the Shift key and press the Enter key) at forward slashes, periods, or underscores to avoid unsightly gaps. You may have to remove multiple elements of the hyperlink that linger in those circumstances.

Final Formatting Tweaks

APA should be double-spaced throughout, with no extra spacing between lines. It should also include Times New Romans, 12-point font throughout. Sometimes when you format your paper or cut-and-paste material into it, things get skewed. One quick way to ensure that your paper appears correct in these regards is to do a final formatting tweak after you have completed your paper. Hold down the “Ctrl” button and press the “A” key, which selects and highlights all of the text in your paper. Then go to the Home tab in Microsoft Word and make sure that Times New Romans and 12-point font are selected in the Font box. Next, click on the arrow at the bottom of the Paragraph tab. Set your spacing before and after paragraphs to “0 pt” and click the “double” line spacing. If you are more advanced on the computer, you might consider changing the default settings in Word that create some of these formatting errors, but the steps listed here will correct them if you don’t have advanced word processing skills.


The conclusion to your paper should provide your readers with a concise summary of the main points of your paper (though not via cut-and-pasted sentences used above). It is a very important element, as it frames your whole ideology and gives your reader his or her last impression of your thoughts.

After your conclusion, insert a page break at the end of the paper so that the reference list begins at the top of a new page. Do this by holding down the “Ctrl” key and then “Enter.” You will go to an entirely new page in order to start the reference list. The word “Reference” or “References” (not in quotation marks—for singular or multiple resources, respectively) should be centered, with no bolding or italics. Items in the reference list are presented alphabetized by the first author’s last name and are formatted with hanging indents (the second+ lines are indented 1/2” from the left margin). If you include a DOI or URL, be sure to remove the hyperlink as addressed above.

One example of each of the primary types of resources will be included in the reference list, as if they were cited in the body of the paper, simply for illustrative purposes. Remember that, for purposes of this paper only, the fictional sources cited in the body of the paper for illustrative purposes only will not be included in the reference list­­---and the resources in the reference list are not cited in the body of this paper. For your purposes, be absolutely sure that every resource cited in the body of the paper is also included in your reference list (and vice versa), excepting only those resources with special rules, such as the Bible, classical works, and personal communications.

The reference list in this paper will include a book by person(s), a book whose publisher is the same as the corporate author, a chapter in an edited book, a journal article, a webpage document, a resource with no author, one with no year of publication noted, two or more resources by the same author in the same year of publication (arranged alphabetically by the first word in the title, but with the addition of letters in the year to distinguish which one you are referring to in the body of your paper), two or more resources by the same author in different years (arranged by date, with the earlier one first), resources with the same first author but differing others, a resource with up to seven authors, and one with more than seven authors.

Lastly, below are a few webpages that address critical topics, such as how to avoid plagiarism and how to write a research paper. Be sure to check out Liberty University’s Online Writing Center ( for more tips and tools, as well as its Facebook page ( Remember that these are only provided for your easy access and reference throughout this sample paper, but web links and URLs should never be included in the body of scholarly papers; just in the reference list. Writing a research paper ( or and avoiding plagiarism (


Acworth, A., Broad, P., Callum, M., Drought, J., Edwards, K., Fallow, P., & Gould, P. (2011). The emphasis of the day. Melville, PA: Strouthworks.

Allen, B., Bacon, P., & Paul, M. (2011). Pericles and the giant. The Journal of Namesakes, 12(8), 13-18. doi:001.118.13601572

Alone, A. (2008). This author wrote a book by himself. New York, NY: Herald.

Alone, A., Other, B., & Other, C. (2011). He wrote a book with others, too: Arrange alphabetically with the sole author first, then the others. New York, NY: Herald.

American Psychological Association. (2013). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Carlisle, M. A. (n.d.). Erin and the perfect pitch. Journal of Music, 21(3), 16-17. Retrieved from http://make-sure-it-goes-to-the-exact-webpage-of-the-source-otherwise-don’t-include

Double, C. (2008a). This is arranged alphabetically by the name of the title. Banks, MN: Peters.

Double, C. (2008b). This is the second (“the” comes after “arranged”). Banks, MN: Peters.

Harold, P., Maynard, M., Nixon, L., Owen, C., Powell, C., Quintin, J., … Raynard, A. (2014). Apricot jam: A sign of the times. Endicott, NY: Peace & Hope.

Liberty University. (2015). The online writing center. Retrieved from

Perigogn, A. U., & Brazel, P. L. (2012). Captain of the ship. In J. L. Auger (Ed.) Wake up in the dark (pp. 108-121). Boston, MA: Shawshank Publications.

Prayer. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.exact-webpage.

Second, M. P. (2011). Same author arranged by date (earlier first). Journal Name, 8, 12-13.

Second, M. P. (2015). Remember that earlier date goes first. Journal Name, 11(1), 18.

Appendix A

Annotated Bibliography

Cross, D. & Purvis, K. (2008). Is maternal deprivation the root of all evil? Avances en Psycologia Latinoamericana, 26(1), 66-81.

Weaving spiritual applications throughout the article, the authors incorporate a plethora of references to substantiate that maltreatment has a direct connection to attachment disorders. They provide articulate and heavily-supported reasoning, detailing the specific causes of maternal deprivation individually, and then incorporating them in a broader sense, to answer the article’s title in the affirmative.

Feldman, R. (2007), Mother-infant synchrony and the development of moral orientation in childhood and adolescence: Direct and indirect mechanisms of developmental continuity. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(4), 582-597.

This longitudinal study tracked 31 Israeli children from ages 3 months to 13 years (infancy to adolescence). There were direct parallels noted between increased attachment/coherence and the child’s moral cognition, empathy development, and verbal IQ. Toddlers who were able to regulate their own behavior later proved to excel in lead-lag structures and language skills.

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