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Apa format bibliography research paper

Mar 19, 2018

When writing a research paper, you often use other peoples' research, data or ideas within your paper. You want to give these people credit for their work and avoid being accused of plagiarism or passing off someone else’s work as your own. By including a bibliography at the end of your research paper, you provide your professor with all of the necessary information to identify and retrieve your sources.

General Formats

Different types of research papers require different citation styles. The Modern Language Association and American Psychological Association styles tend to be the most commonly used when writing research papers in high school or college. Chicago style is the third-most common. Your teacher will tell you which format to use. Regardless of which source you use, format your bibliography so that entries are sorted alphabetically by the author’s last name. If there is no author, sort by title. With any reference that is more than a single line long, indent each subsequent line by 1/2 inch. This is called a hanging indent. With all formats, place a single space following all punctuation.

MLA Formatting

MLA style is typically used in humanities research papers, such as linguistics and music. According to the seventh edition of the MLA handbook, you create a works cited page at the end of your paper to serve as your bibliography. A major difference in MLA format from the other styles is that you indicate your medium of publication, such as print, Web or interview. To list a book, write the author’s last name, a comma, first name and a period. Type the title of the book in italics and title case, followed by a period. Write the place of publication, a colon, the publisher’s name, a comma, the year of publication and a period. At the end, list the medium and finish with a period. For example: Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: Norton, 1999. Print.

APA Formatting

APA style is used in human and behavior sciences, including psychology. According to the sixth edition of the APA handbook, your research should feature a reference page that lists all your citations. This format has a distinctly differently structure and format than the other styles. To list a book in APA format, write the author’s last name, a comma, his first and middle initial and a period. Within parentheses, write the year that the book was published. Outside the final parenthesis, place a period. Write the title of the book in italics and sentence case and then insert a period. Type the city and state of publication, a colon, the name of the publisher and end with a period. For example: Casson, L. (2001). Libraries in the ancient world. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Chicago Formatting

The Chicago Manual of Style is the oldest and considered the most comprehensive style guide. It is often used for literature, history or art research papers. According to the 16th edition of the Chicago manual, your research paper should feature a bibliography page. To list a book in Chicago style, write the author’s last name, a comma, his first name and a period. Write the book’s title in italics and title case followed by a period. Write the city of publication, a colon, the publisher’s name, a comma and the year of publication. End with a period. For example: Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2006.


APA versus MLA: what style guide do you use?


The American Psychological Association (APA) style is, originally, a set of rules that authors use when submitting papers for publications in the journals of the APA. Established in 1929, the style has since been used to guide research writers and help them achieve – through the use of established standards for language, the construction of correct reference citations, the avoidance of plagiarism, the proper use of headers, among many others – "minimum distraction and maximum precision".

As a complete style and guideline for writing, the APA is a valuable tool for writing scientific papers, laboratory reports, and papers covering topics in the field of psychology, education, and other social sciences. The APA style allows for in-text citations, direct quotations, and endnotes and footnotes. It is also enables the author to use the past tense of verbs in the reportage.

Standards of the APA style include:


The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is the leading style of documentation for literary research, as well as academic papers in the humanities field. It follows a specific set of rules for formatting manuscripts, and is considered, along with the APA style, a standardized reference format in college. Compared to the APA style, however, the MLA style focuses on the citation of books, anthologies, literary works, audio-visual material, multimedia, and similar works with much more detail.

Also, unlike the APA style, the present tense of verbs is most commonly used in the MLA style. Other MLA standards include:

Which style do I use?

Humanities courses are usually asked to style according to MLA guidelines. Students in science and research fields, meanwhile, are often encouraged to follow the APA guidelines. In college, the primary reason for using a standardized reference format like the MLA or APA is so that professional peers, researchers, professors, and other academic readers can easily understand the syntax and easily check the citations.

APA Paper Formatting & Style Guidelines
Your teacher may want you to format your paper using APA guidelines. If you were told to create your citations in APA format, your paper should be formatted using the APA guidelines as well.

General guidelines:

  1. Use white 8 ½  x 11” paper.

  2. Make 1 inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides

  3. The first word in every paragraph should be indented one half inch.

  4. APA recommends using Times New Roman font, size 12.

  5. Double space the entire research paper

  6. Include a page header known as the

    “running head”

    at the top of every page. (To make this process easier, set your word processor to automatically add these components onto each page)

    1. To create the running head/page header, insert page numbers justified to the right-hand side of the paper (do not put p. or pg. in front of page numbers)

    2. Then type “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” justified to the left using all capital letters

    3. If your title is long, this running head title should be a shortened version of the title of your entire paper

Sample running head/page header


APA Paper Components

Your essay should include these four major sections:

  1. Title Page

  2. Abstract

  3. Main Body

  4. References

Title Page

This page should contain four pieces: the title of the paper, running head, the author’s name, institutional affiliation, and an author’s note. Create the page header/running head as described above.

*Please note that only on the title page, your page header/running head should include the words “Running Head” before your title in all capitals. The rest of the pages should not include this in the page header. It should look like this on the title page:


  1. Your title may take up one or two lines, but should not be more than 12 words in length.

  2. All text on the title page should be double-spaced in the same way as the rest of your essay

  3. Do not include any titles on the author’s name such as Dr. or Ms.

  4. The institutional affiliation is the location where the author conducted the research

Sample Title page:



On the following page, begin with the Running title.

  1. On the first line of the page, center the word “Abstract” (but do not include quotation marks).

  2. On the following line, write a summary of the key points of your research. Your abstract summary is a way to introduce readers to your research topic, the questions that will be answered, the process you took, and any findings or conclusions you drew.

  3. This summary should


    be indented, but should be double-spaced and less than 250 words.

  4. If applicable, help researchers find your work in databases by listing keywords from your paper after your summary. To do this, indent and type


    : in italics.  Then list your keywords that stand out in your research.

Sample Abstract page:


The Body

On the following page, begin with the Body of the paper.

  1. Start with the Running title

  2. On the next line write the title (do not bold, underline, or italicize the title)

  3. Begin with the introduction. Indent.

  4. The introduction presents the problem and premise upon which the research was based.  It goes into more detail about this problem than the abstract.

  5. Begin a new section with the Method. Bold and center this subtitle The Method section shows how the study was run and conducted. Be sure to describe the methods through which data was collected.

  6. Begin a new section with the Results. Bold and center this subtitle.

    The Results section summarizes the data. Use graphs and graphs to display this data.

  7. Begin a new section with the Discussion. Bold and center this subtitle. This Discussion section is a chance to analyze and interpret your results.

    1. Draw conclusions and support how your data led to these conclusions.

    2. Discuss whether or not your hypothesis was confirmed or not supported by your results.

    3. Determine the limitations of the study and next steps to improve research for future studies.

** Throughout the body, in-text citations are used and include the author’s/authors’ name(s) and the publication year. In APA format page numbers are not used in in-text citations.

    Ex: (Wilkonson, 2009).

For more information about how to cite properly please see EasyBib’s guides for APA citations based on the sources you are using.

Sample Body page:



On a new page, write your references.

  1. Begin with a running title

  2. Center and bold the title “References” (do not include quotation marks, underline, or italicize this title)

  3. Alphabetize and Double-space all entries

  4. Every article/source mentioned in the paper and used in your study should be referenced and have an entry.

Sample Reference Page:


I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. Thomas Jefferson

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