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APA Student Paper

General setup

1. Enable the paragraph symbol (¶)

Open a word document. On the Home tab, click on the paragraph symbol (¶), which is the Show/Hide Formatting Marks button. Now, whenever you press enter, tab, or space, symbols for each will appear. 

Image showing the paragraph symbol

2. Set page margins to one inch

On the Layout tab, go to Margins. One inch (1") or 2,54 cm is the default option, but older versions of Word may have different default margins. If you need to change your margins, you can use one of the presets, or go to Custom Margins and change the margins to 1" (inch) or 2,54cm for the top, bottom, left, and right.

Image showing the margins option

3. Set the font & font size

On the Home tab, choose one of the several potential options:

  • Sans Serif font such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida.
  • Sans Unicode Serif fonts such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia.

Image showing font & font size

4. Double-space the entire paper

On the Home tab go to Paragraph. Click the arrow.

Image showing the paragraph arrow

Set Spacing, Before and After to 0 pt,and Line Spacing to Double.

Image showing line spacing

5. Left-align the text

On the Home tab, go to alignment. Check that the text will be left-aligned. It is the default option. Do not justify the text.

Image showing text alignment

6. Insert page numbers

On the Insert tab, go to Page Number and click the drop down menu. Select Top of Page and Plain number 3. This will add the page numbers on your paper and it will appear on the top right of your page. Page numbers will continue appearing on the pages that follow the first page.

Image showing page number

Once you’ve done that, you have finished with the general setup and you are ready to move on to formatting your title page.

If your instructor requires that you add a running head consult the General setup of the APA Professional Paper guide.