How to Style Your Paper with APA Format in Google Docs

If you’re a student or working in the academic field, you’re probably somewhat familiar with the APA format. However, formatting your paper according to APA guidelines can be daunting, especially if you’re using a tool like Google Docs.

But fear not! In this article, we’ll teach you how to use APA format in Google Docs and access its built-in APA templates to save you time and effort in the long run.

Let’s dive in!

What Is APA Format?

APA stands for American Psychological Association. From its name, it’s easy to guess that this style has become the standard for many disciplines, including psychology, education, and social sciences.

The APA Style is a standard format used in essays, research, and other forms of academic writing.

Related: How to Do MLA Format on Google Docs [Step-by-Step Guide]

How to Set Up APA Format in Google Docs

Before starting the writing process, it’s essential to customize the appearance of your document. This ensures that every important section in an APA-style paper is present. As of writing, APA is in its seventh edition (APA 7). Therefore, we’ll use this version in the following guide.

Here’s how to do APA format in Google Docs.

Step 1: Configure Margin Settings

By default, a new document in Google Docs has one-inch margins on all sides. If you’ve changed your default settings at some point in the past, you’ll need to modify them for APA.

  1. Go to “File,” then select “Page setup.”
Where is the page setup option in Google Docs


  1. Ensure that all margins are set at 1 inch (or in the margin size specified by your instructor).
  2. Click “OK” when done.
Setting the margins in Google Docs

Step 2: Add Page Headers

  1. In the drop-down menu bar, select Insert” > “Headers & footers” > “Header.”
Adding a header section in Google Docs


  1. If you’re writing the paper for professional use, type the title in all caps (as a running head). If not, skip step three.
  2. Highlight the page header and select “Times New Roman,” size 12 as the font.
Switching APA font to Times New Roman, size 12


  1. Under the Header menu, click on the “Options” drop-down and choose “Page numbers.”
How to add page numbers in Google Docs


  1. Ensure that the value in the “Start at” field is 1. Click on the “Apply” button to insert the pagination.
Adding pagination within Google Docs APA formatting


  1. Place your cursor at the immediate left of the page number. Press the “Tab” key and/or the spacebar on your keyboard to flush the page number to the right.
Adjusting the position of the page number in Google Docs

Step 3: Set up the APA Format for Title Page in Google Docs

  1. Click on any part of your document.
  2. Change the font style by clicking on the “Font” drop-down menu and selecting “Times New Roman.”
Changing font styles in Google document


  1. Adjust the font size to 12 using the “Font size” option in the Google Docs toolbar.
How to change font size in Google Docs


  1. Click on the “Line & paragraph spacing” button (denoted by an up-down arrow with three horizontal lines). Select “Double.”
How to double-space Google document for APA format


  1. Press the “Enter” or “Return” key on your keyboard three to four times.
  2. Click on “Align” > “Center align” in the toolbar to flush the text to the middle of the page.
Using center align for APA format title


  1. Type your paper title and make it bold by pressing “Ctrl” + “B” (or “Cmd” + “B” for Mac) on your keyboard.
Making paper title bold to follow APA format


  1. Alternatively, highlight the title and click the “B” (Bold) button on the toolbar at the top.
Bold button on Google Docs


  1. Add a new line, then type the name of the author(s) below it.
  2. Repeat the previous step to add the following information:
    1. For students: Author’s school, course number and name, name of the instructor, and assignment due date.
    2. For professionals: Author’s affiliation (where the research was conducted), notes from the author, and ORCiD link.
APA format title page Google Docs


  1. To start a new page, select “Insert” > “Break” > “Page break.”
Inserting a page break in Google Docs

Step 4: Insert an Abstract Page

An abstract page presents the overall gist of your paper. It contains both the summary and a list of keywords related to your topic. Note that this is only important for professional papers.

To insert an abstract page, simply follow the steps below.

  1. On a new page after the title page, type “Abstract” and select “Align” > “Center align” in the toolbar.
How to create an APA abstract page in Google Docs


  1. Make it bold by pressing “Ctrl” + “B” (or “Cmd” + “B” for Mac).
  2. Press “Enter” to start a new line.
  3. Enable “Left align” and begin typing your abstract.
APA formatting abstract page Google Docs

Step 5: Type the Full Paper Title & Start Writing

Having laid out the basic formatting of your paper, you can now begin writing your content. On the first line of a new page, you’ll have to enter the full title of your work. This should be bolded, centered, and using an APA-style title case.

Full title in APA academic paper


When it comes to the body of your paper or dissertation, there are a few more elements to remember.

Apply the Correct Paragraph Format

When using the APA style, your paragraphs should be aligned to the left margin. Each paragraph should also start with a 0.5-inch indentation. In Google Docs, pressing the “Tab” key on your keyboard should produce a half-inch indentation by default.

Paragraph indentation rules for APA format


If you’re citing original text from another source with more than 40 words, you should use a “block quotation.” This means the whole block or paragraph is indented ½ inch to the right (but remains left-aligned).

APA indentation rules for block quotes


Related: Easily Insert a Google Sheet Into Google Docs [2023 Guide]

Use In-Text Citations Properly

When getting information from other references, make sure to use in-text citations. You can do this in two ways:

  • (Author’s surname, publication year, and page number): This is called a parenthetical citation. You can insert it right after a quote or at the end of a sentence. The page number is important if you’re citing specific lines from another source. But you can remove it if you’re citing the summary of an entire paper.
Parenthetical citation in APA 7


  • [Author] reported that…(Publication year): This is called a narrative citation. Here, the surname of the author is part of the paragraph itself. You only need to enclose the publication year in parentheses.
Narrative citation in APA 7

How to Format References for APA Style

You have to give credit to every source used in your APA research and paper. This allows your instructor or reader to verify whether certain information in your work is true. Therefore, you must have a References page at the end of your document.

Here’s how to set it up.

  1. On a new page, type the word “References” on the first line.
  2. Put it in center alignment and make it bold.
Making the APA references page in Google Docs


  1. Start a new line and input the correct format for your source type.
  2. After listing your references, alphabetize them based on the surnames of the authors.
  3. Highlight your reference list.
  4. Go to “Format” > “Align & indent” > “Indentation options.”
Where to find indentation options in Google Docs


  1. Under “Special indent,” select “Hanging” from the drop-down menu.
  2. Click on the “Apply” button.
Using hanging indent for APA references page

How to Use the APA Google Docs Templates

Given the common use of the APA format in academia, it’s common to find templates designed for it. Google Docs itself offers two variants: APA 6th Ed. and APA 7th Ed. (the latest edition).

Here’s how you can set them up for your use.

  1. Launch your browser and go to the Google Docs homepage.
  2. Click on “Template Gallery.”
Home interface of Google Docs


  1. Under the “Education” category, select “Report” with the words “APA 6th Ed.” or “APA 7th Ed.” below it (depending on what your instructor requires).
APA format templates in Google Docs


You can also access the templates from a blank document you created. To do this, click on “File” > “New” > “From template.” This will redirect you to the same Template Gallery. Select any of the two APA formats to proceed.

Accessing the GDocs template gallery from a new document


Doing the steps above would open an APA format template in Google Docs. All you have to do is insert your content.

It’s important to note that APA formatting for professional and student papers differs slightly. This is noticeable, especially when making the APA cover page in Google Docs. These templates have parentheses that say “for professional papers” and “for student papers.” Select what applies to you and delete the other unnecessary parts of the template.

Difference between student and professional paper in APA format

Get Even More APA Format Tips and Templates!

By following this guide to using APA format in Google Docs, you’ll ensure that papers meet your educational institution’s formatting requirements (while giving your work a professional and polished look).

Need more assistance with APA? Not to worry: Udemy’s got plenty of APA formatting courses to give you a leg-up!

Looking for powerful templates to improve your work output? You can find them on our Gumroad page! Check out our huge list of templates and get 50% off by using the code “SSP.”


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