Teaching APA Style: An APA Template Paper

Teaching APA Style: An APA Template Paper

By: Megan Smith

Teaching students how to write in APA style? Learning to write in APA format for a class or a research project? We now have templates for one-experiment papers and multiple-experiment papers! Download our template papers here: 

Between teaching research methods, and courses that have a writing component within psychology, I am often working with students on their writing. Writing in general is very difficult, both as the learner and the teacher. But it seems that learning to write about experimental psychology has additional complexities. The level of detail necessary can be overwhelming, and there are an extreme number of rules. (For an amusing history on the rules of APA format, see this APS Observer article: “What Should They Be Called” by Roddy Roediger). Students need to tell a scientific story in a very clear and concise way, all the while making sure that every sentence is in the correct section of the paper, in the correct tense, referring to the correct variables, and so on.

I teach students how to go about writing an APA paper section by section. I use template papers as resources, such as the one found on the Purdue OWL. Still, I find myself piecing resources together, drawing on the board to explain headings, and writing blurbs of fake papers during research methods labs to explain what goes in each section, and how it should be formatted.

I finally realized that having one big template paper to reference would likely help my students, and could potentially help other teachers and students as well.

Below is an excerpt from the template paper. In each section, I write what belongs in each section, give writing tips, and provide formatting rules from APA. The paper includes everything from a title page, all the way to sample tables, figures, and appendices.

By the way, in the reference section I explain how to create the "hanging" format in Microsoft Word. (One of my Senior Undergraduates told me the other day they never knew how to have Microsoft Word do it for them!) In case the explanation is not helpful, here is a screen shot of the paragraph formatting screen from my mac:

Big THANK YOU to Yana for helping me edit this document. Creating this was no small task! I welcome any suggestions for further improvement and clarity.