Mastering Basic APA: Use a Template!

One of the many concerns that clients have expressed when contacting Executive Academics for online class help relates to the challenges of correctly formatting papers. While researching and writing papers presents its own unique set of issues (to be discussed in a later blog), ensuring that papers are formatted correctly is one of the easiest, and yet often one of the most irritating components of completing essay assignments.

For the professional tutors at Executive Academics, the easiest way to consistently create APA formatted papers is to use a template. Instead of writing a paper from scratch, a tutor opens their appropriate template (in this case APA), saves it as the student’s paper (ensuring that the properties correctly reflect anonymity), and begins working on the project in template form. This not only saves time and effort since there is minimal formatting required, but it also provides a consistent format for which all papers submitted match throughout the entirety of the class.

To best demonstrate the templates that our tutor’s use, we have provided a brief overview of printscreens in YouTube video format. The video is fast and the screen shots are a smidge blurry, but the video attached to this blog provides you with the basic idea of what these templates look like.

Presently we have two forms of templates which we offer for free download to anyone who is interested. The first template (Template A in the video) includes comments regarding spacing, font, size, and other important parts of APA format, so that the student is easily able to identify important features. The second template (Template B) in the video has all comments removed and is ready for you to add your own content in a fully formatted paper.

Examples of some key points for APA formatting include:

  • APA format requires Times New Roman font, size 12, double spaced text

  • Ensure that all additional spaces have been removed between paragraphs. This can be accomplished by selecting all text, right clicking into the “paragraph” menu, and selecting the box titled “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style”.

  • Remember that the title page requires a header that includes a right aligned page number and left aligned “Running head:” in lowercase letters (capital “R”) and a shortened version of your paper title in all caps. Ex: Running head: SAMPLE APA PAPER

  • Pages 2 through the end of your paper require that the header have a right aligned page number and a left aligned shortened title in caps (No running head component after the first page)

  • Remember to change your header font! Default is often Calibri or Cambria size 11- change this to Times New Roman, size 12. It is helpful to do this before you begin typing the header so you don’t have to fix the spacing after you make the size/font change.

  • When creating your references page, remember to double space the references and include the special formatting for a “hanging indent”

Another important part of APA formatting is the way in which you utilize references. As a general rule, when using a direct quote the format is (Author(s), Year, p.number), so it may look like this: (Jobs, 2010, p.4). When paraphrasing, you will only cite the author and the year, so it may look something like this (Jobs, 2010). Remember to include the sentence punctuation (in the above example this is a period) after the citation as opposed to before it. APA referencing gets tricky when there is more than one author. The easiest way to remember this is to reference the below chart (just remember to add the page number for a direct citation to the end):

One or Two Authors

First text citation (either parenthetical or narrative): (Smith & Berry, 2009)

Subsequent text citations (all): (Smith & Berry, 2009)

Three, Four, or Five Authors

First text citation (either parenthetical or narrative): (Jones, Smith, Lewis, & Chope, 2008)

Subsequent text citations (all): (Jones et al., 2008)

Six or More Authors

First text citation (either parenthetical or narrative): (Jacobson et al., 2010)

Subsequent text citations (all): (Jacobson et al., 2010)

So, we have now established that APA formatting is a hassle, however we have not yet come to the point where we have to put all of these references into our reference list. For people who write dozens of pages of papers every day, there is no time to create individualized references for each source. Thankfully, there are shortcuts!

An excellent (and free!) resource that may be used to correctly format the reference section of your paper can be found at: Simply fill in the relevant information for your source and this site will generate a correctly formatted reference which you may paste into this section of your paper. Note, that if you paste as a “value” into your paper (or as “unformatted text” on a Mac) you will lose any italicized parts of the reference. Also note that the reference section needs to be Times New Roman, size 12, and Citation Machine frequently produces completed references in Calibri font. Please remember to change your font and size to match the remainder of the paper and be mindful of which components need to remain italicized.

Another excellent resource is Google Scholar, which provides the citation in MLA, APA, and Chicago upon clicking on the “cite” link beneath each reference. Even if you did not originally find your scholarly reference on Google Scholar, you may paste the title of your paper into the search and use the tool only for the citation to save time. Google Scholar will spit out your results and neatly cite your scholarly reference for you. Simply copy and paste into your reference section and once again remember to check for font, size, spacing, and italics.

Between Citation Machine and Google Scholar, you should never have to manually create a reference again!

So, you are wondering how difficult it would be to create your own templates so that you never again have to begin formatting a paper from scratch. This is the easy part. Send us an email at and we will send you both templates for free (no strings attached!). While we would be more than happy to write your papers for you or complete your entire online class, we also want you to succeed in college with or without our help.

As a follow-up, this template will work for 99% of classes where professors are overjoyed at the idea that you managed to cite references correctly and know the difference between the headers on the first page and every other page. In classes where your professor is APA anal, he or she will undoubtedly find some issue with how you cite, the types of headings you use, or the way your references or listed. The APA manual is an invaluable reference for these professors, who are few and far between, and the book can be found at the below link:

If you would like to receive these APA templates for download, please send us an email via our contact form or contact us directly at:

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