How to set up an APA format of an essay in Google Docs

Students have to deal with hundreds of writing assignments during their academic path. Such papers aim to develop undergraduates’ critical thinking, writing, formatting, and structuring abilities. Indeed, every essay has to be written according to a specific format and structure. Depending on your major, you may need to follow different formatting styles. The most prominent and used ones are MLA (Modern Language Association), Chicago, and APA (American Psychological Association). If you use Google Docs, you can find some templates to use there. However, if you want to manually set up this format, you are most welcome to read this article.

APA format: Definition, Rules, and Purpose

As we already know, APA stands for American Psychological Association. It is mostly used by scholars who study Social Sciences, such as Linguistics, Criminology, Sociology, Economics, etc. Indeed, it has established rules regarding font, title, and a reference page. Even though professors may require sticking to different instructions, a standard APA paper has the following attributes:

  • Double-spaced text without spaces between paragraphs
  • The text follows 12 Times New Roman font (it can be replaced by any other font, such as Arial; however, Times New Roman is hardly ever replaced by other fonts)
  • One-inch page margins all over the paper
  • A header that includes your paper’s title and page number
  • The first page, also known as the title page, comprises your credentials, the topic, and affiliation you belong to
  • Body paragraphs are indented with a ½ inch
  • In-text citations for direct quotes or paraphrased sentences
  • The last page is called References in the APA format, where you include your sources used

Note that the default template placed in Google Docs includes units that can be redundant for your piece. That is, you may not need such sections as Methodology or Results. Either way, you are free to go to the official APA page and find out what you need.

Using The APA Template In Google Docs

In case you want to use a standard APA format in Google Docs, you have to go to Files — New — From template. When you do this, you will be redirected to a new tab where you will find the bulk of different templates. Go a little bit down, and you will see an Education section. Select an APA format, and voila.

The document will have some text just to show you how the paper should look. Some essays don’t need to have specific chapters. You are free to delete them when using this template.

How To Set Up The APA Format In Google Docs

Many people encounter problems with Google Docs. Which may have them switch to another alternative. The reason is they can’t see any templates. When using Templates, they are redirected to the page with their previously written documents. Suppose you face the same issue, no need to worry. You can create a document on your own, and we will gladly help you with that:

  1. Undoubtedly, a default Arial is a real pain in the neck. You always have to change it before writing an academic paper. Change it to Times New Roman 12.
  2. Then click Insert on the left top — Headers and footersHeader (or you can simply press Ctrl+Alt+O or Ctrl+Alt+H).
  3. Again, when filling out the header, you have to change its font from Arial 11 to Times New Roman 12. Remember to write it in CAPS.
  4. The next thing you have to do is to set up page numbers. Go to InsertPage numbersPage number.
  5. You have to align the page number with the top-right margin. You can do that by clicking the tab or spacebar. And don’t forget to click Different first page. Your title page doesn’t have to be indicated by a page number. Don’t worry, though, as the page number will appear on subsequent pages.
  6. Besides, type “Running head:” before the title. Make sure the following pages have numbers and are aligned with the top-right margin.
  7. Click anywhere on the paper and choose Format — Line — Spacing — Double. Please note that your professor may require you to follow single line spacing. Clarify which spacing you have to stick to.
  8. On the title page, make sure your indicator is about mid-way down the page. Select Center Align.
  9. Type the document’s full title, your first and second name, and the institutional affiliation. You must write every item on separate lines.
  10. Finally, choose Select — Break — Page Break to start a new page.
  11. Again, pick Center Align and type Abstract. Alternatively, you can Align your text and line space in the toolbar at the top right of Google Docs.
  12. Once you do that, press Enter and select Left Align.
  13. Press Tab to indent the text and start a new paragraph.
  14. Since the Abstract has to be written on a separate page, press Enter + Ctrl to start a new one. Plus, press Tab to indicate the beginning of the paragraph.
  15. Repeat that when finishing your paper with a Reference page.

How To Handle Referencing in APA

Each and every academic paper needs to have credible sources to support the student’s arguments. Regardless of the formatting style, you have to give credits to academicians you refer to. To do that, you have to create a page called References. Your sources must be alphabetized by the scholar’s last name. Besides, every second line of the same reference must be indented. For example:

Gore, A. (2006). An inconvenient truth: The planetary emergency of global warming and what

we can do about it. Emmaus, PA: Rodale.

Michaels, P. J., & Balling, R. C., Jr. (2000). The satanic gases: Clearing the air about global

warming. Washington, DC: Cato Institute.

Begley, S., & Murr, A. (2007, July 2). Which of these is not causing global warming? A. Sport

utility vehicles; B. Rice fields; C. Increased solar output. Newsweek, 150(2), 48-50.

How To Give Credits In Text In APA

When writing essays using APA, you also need to know how to make in-text citations. APA requires mentioning the author’s last name and the year of publication. If you insert direct quotes, you must include the page number, as well. The citation itself has to be at the end of a sentence, followed by a period. The following are in-text citations for various textual or statistical evidence:

Paying no attention to global warming, people jeopardize our future, which, in turn, may not occur (Gore, 2006).

It is not clear to what extent specimens as tools to document phonological changes can help people slow down severe effects caused by global warming (Miller-Rushing, Primack, Primack, & Mukunda, 2006, p. 1671)


Writing academic essays may seem easy at first glance. Knowing a structure, you can complete the paper promptly and submit it to the teacher. But, be that as it may, the professor will likely put an unsatisfactory grade. This may occur because of the improper formatting style.

The mentioned guide goes through the most crucial aspects you have to meet to write an academic piece. Following this guideline, you will spend less time creating headers, indenting texts, and writing citations. Employ this guide daily to make your writing abilities and productivity skyrocket.

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