A friend asked me if I knew how to edit APA style documents. I made this checklist for her.

Formatting Basics Checklist for APA Style Manuscripts

  • Use Times Roman for the bulk of the manuscript.
  • The text should be 12 pt.
  • Use a sans serif font for type in figures.
  • The whole document must be double-spaced.
  • Margins must be at least 1 inch.
  • Excluding the running head and page number, each page must have no more than 27 lines of text.
  • Print document on 8.5 x 11 white, bond paper.
  • Number all the pages, except pages that are entirely figures, sequentially. The title page is included in this numbering.
  • Take out abbreviations that aren’t necessary. Explain abbreviations that are used. Explain table and figure abbreviations in the table notes, figure captions, or legends. Do not use spaces inside the abbreviations.
  • Em dashes and en dashes do not have spaces surrounding them. Hyphens get a space on both sides.
  • Use only one space after the end of a sentence, commas, colons, semicolons, periods that separate parts of a citation, and after the periods in the initials of names.
  • Identify all but the most common mathematical symbols (π, %, …). Other math symbols need to be in italics, unless they are Greek letters (α, β, …).
  • Write paragraphs less than one page, but greater than one sentence.
  • Provide metric equivalents when measurements are used. Abbreviate the unit; that is, use cm instead of centimeter.
  • Put two spaces at the end of sentences.
  • Spell out the words for numbers when approximating dates such as approximately twelve hours.
  • The word website is one word and doesn't have a capital letter.

Rules for Indenting for APA Style Manuscripts

  • Indent the first line of every paragraph and the first line of every footnote. Use the tab key, not spaces. Set the tab to about a half-inch, or five to seven characters.
  • Do not indent the abstract, block quotations, titles, headings, table titles, table notes, and figure captions.

Checklist for Titles and Headings for APA Style Manuscripts

  • Capitalize important words (mixed case) in the title, byline, page labels, headings, titles, and some parts of the reference list.
  • Number tables in the order mentioned.
  • Label figures with the figure number and the short article title.
  • Write the running head in all caps (except for the words running head) and flush it to the left.


Headings must be consistent among levels. Use styles. The headings should reflect the organization and should make an accurate Table of Contents.

Heading Levels

  1. Level 1: Domain, Mixed Case, Bold, Centered
  2. Level 2: Kingdom, Flush left, Mixed Case, Bold
  3. Level 3: Phylum, Indented, bold, Sentence case that ends with a period. Then, don't put in a blank line or anything before your title, and keep the sentence inline with the heading.
  4. Level 4: Class, Indented bold, italics, Sentence case that ends with a period. Then, don't put in a blank line or anything before your title, and keep the sentence inline with the heading.
  5. Level 5: Order, Indented, italicized, Sentence case that ends with a period. Then, don't put in a blank line or anything before your title, and keep the sentence inline with the heading.

Checklist for APA Manuscript Title Pages

  • Write a 10-12 word title and do not include frivolous words like method or experiment.
  • The running head should be less than 50 characters. Ideally, the title will fit right into the running head. The running head is a shortened version of the title that appears at the top of each printed page for publication.
  • The title page should contain at least the name of the paper, the author's name in the format of first name MI last name, and the institution.

Order of the Manuscript for APA Style Manuscripts

  • Title page
  • Abstract, less than 120 words, on its own page
  • The text should start on Page 3
  • References, each appendix, and the author note should start on a separate page
  • List the footnotes together but on a separate page
  • Table should start on a separate page
  • List figure captions together on a separate page
  • Figures should be on a separate page

Style for Citations for APA Style Manuscripts


Author, A.B., Second, A.C., & Thirdauthor, A.D. (2000). Title of article. Title of Periodical, xx, xx-xxx.
Author, A., Second, B., Third, C., Fourth, D., Fifth, E., Sixth, F., et. al (2010). TItle of article. Title of Periodical, xx, xx-xxxx.

Published on Paper

Author, A.B. (2000). Title of work. City, State: Publisher.
Author, A.B. (2000). Title of work. City, Country: Publisher.


Nicodemus, Gwen. (2008, 04 21). Writing, editing, and proofreading. Retrieved 04 21, 2008, from Shiny Newts: http://ShinyNewts.com

Checklist for Citations for APA Style Manuscripts

  • Cite references in the reference list and in the parenthetical notation.
  • The names and dates in the parenthetical notation and reference list need to match.
  • Text citations from empirical work need to be distinguished from non-empirical work.
  • Spell out the words in journal titles fully.
  • References need to be in alphabetical order according to the primary author’s last name.
  • References need to include the page numbers for the sections of the document used.
  • Reference to studies included in the meta-analysis need to be proceeded by an asterisk.
  • Surround quotations of less than 40 words with quotation marks and include in line with the text.
  • Do not indent block quotations, which are greater than 40 words. These should be double-spaced. Indent the first line of the second paragraph if the quotation is that long.

Checklist for Figures for APA Style Manuscripts

  • Use figures only when needed.
  • Remove extra detail from figures. Make figures clean and simple.
  • Plot the data accurately.
  • Use the right scale.
  • Make the lettering legible.
  • Explain any abbreviations in the figure in the caption.
  • Include a List of Figures in the document. Number each figure sequentially in the order mentioned in the document. Remove figures not mentioned in the text.

Other Things to Remember for APA Style Manuscripts

  • Include written permission for copyrighted work along with the submission.
  • Look for language bias and attempt to eliminate it.
  • Remove jargon.
  • Only use metaphors if necessary to explain a complex idea.
  • Use active verbs.
  • Less is more. Remove extra words.