07/12/2021

IOS KingMan

IOS KingMan

How to write an APA format paper in Google Docs using a template or other built-in features

  • You can write an APA formatted paper in Google Docs using its built-in tools or a template.
  • The basics of APA 7 format include double-spaced lines, a running header, and a title page — all of which can be done in Google Docs.
  • Google Docs’ templates page includes pre-made APA 6 and APA 7 documents you can use as well.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

While some students write in MLA format, others write in APA format. APA — short for American Psychological Association — is a standardized format for writing academic papers, especially in the fields of sociology, psychology, and other behavioral or social sciences. It has specific rules for what your essays should look like, and how they should be structured.

APA format has changed a few times over the decades (right now we’re on APA Seventh Edition, or “APA 7”), but the basics have stayed the same. And no matter which version of APA format you’re using, you can set it all up using Google Docs.

Here’s how to make an APA essay in Google Docs, either manually or using a template.

How to set up an APA format paper in Google Docs

Like other style guides, APA format has a variety of rules and standards. Here are the most important guidelines for structuring your paper, along with tips on how to meet those guidelines in Google Docs.

  • The font needs to be readable and consistent.

APA isn’t strict about what font you should use, or even what size it should be. It just needs to be legible, and you need to use the same font throughout your entire paper (with exceptions for figures, computer code, and footnotes). Some common choices are 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Arial, and 11-point Calibri.

You can change your font and font size using the toolbar at the top of the screen. If you’re trying to change text that you’ve already written, just be sure to highlight it first.

Your font and font size need to be readable.
Google; William Antonelli/Insider
  • Your entire document needs to have one-inch margins and double-spaced lines.

All Google Docs documents have one-inch margins by default, so you probably don’t need to worry about that. If you want to double-check or change them anyway, you can change the margins using the Page Setup menu or ruler feature.

Meanwhile, you can enable double-spacing with the Line & paragraph spacing menu in the toolbar above your document. Highlight all the text in your document, then select Double in this menu to turn on double-spacing. 

  • Every page needs a header with the paper’s title in the top-left, and the page number in the top-right.

Google Docs lets you add headers to any page. You can add automatic page numbers through the Insert menu, and then double-click the header to add your title on the left if needed.

Remember that they need to be the same font and font size as the rest of your paper.

  • Your paper needs a title page with your name, paper title in bold, “institutional affiliation,” and more.

Probably the most important part of an APA paper is the title page. It needs to include the paper’s title in bold, your name, and your “institutional affiliation” — the school or organization that you’re writing for. If you’re a student, you also need to add the course number and name, your instructor’s name, and the due date.

All this information should be centered in the upper-half of the first page. You can find Google Docs’ alignment options in the toolbar at the top of the page. Highlight your text and select Center align in this menu to center everything.

The title page of an APA formatted paper, with all the optional elements included.
Google; William Antonelli/Insider
  • Your paper should end with a References page, and each entry should be written with a hanging indent.

The last section of your paper is the References page. Make sure to put it on a new page (or pages, depending on how many you have to cite).

The word “References” should be centered and bolded on the very first line of the page. You can center the words using the alignment options mentioned above, and bold it by clicking the B icon.

List all your references in alphabetical order and use the ruler to give each one a hanging indent — in other words, every line after the first needs to be indented.

Your citations need hanging indents, which you can make with the ruler tool.
Google; William Antonelli/Insider

How to use Google Docs’ APA format templates

While you can format your paper manually, Google Docs also offers two different APA templates — one for APA 7, and another for APA 6. These templates will let you meet most of the APA guidelines right away, but you’ll probably still need to change some of it.

To use one of these templates:

1. Head to the Google Docs homepage and click Template gallery in the top-right.

Head to your account’s template gallery.
Google; William Antonelli/Insider

2. Scroll down the templates page until you reach the Education section. In this section, click either Report [APA 6th ed] or Report [APA 7th ed].

There are two APA options.
Google; William Antonelli/Insider

3. A page will open with an APA format paper already written in fake Lorem Ipsum language. Most of the formatting is there, so you just need to replace the pre-written words with your own.

You can find these templates in the mobile app by tapping the plus sign icon in the bottom-right, and then selecting Choose template.