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APA Thesis Guidelines

17 Feb 2017Writing Topics

When it comes to thesis writing, lot of people have problems with the guidelines and requirements one must follow for an APA thesis. They are very different from the MLA and AP style and citation requirements, but not so drastically that it feels like an entirely new system.

APA style is used by the American Psychological Association for research papers and theses. It was specially developed to work well with citing scientific sources and studies, as opposed to the Modern Language Association’s style (abbreviated MLA), which is what you would use for a literature thesis.

If you are writing a science thesis, you will probably end up using APA style. Don’t know how to write in APA thesis format? No problem.


  • Margins – 1″

  • Font – 12-point Times New Roman or Arial

  • Title page. A title page should be simple, including only your title, name, and the name of your educational institution.

  • Header. You should have a running header on all subsequent pages that includes only the title. Do not include your name.

  • Abstract. Write an abstract and include that in your paper.  How to do this will be addressed shortly, but it is basically a short summary of your research.

  • Citations. Citations should all be in APA citation formal. Your APA thesis will be easily recognizable by these. How to cite in this form will be addressed below.


Writing an abstract doesn’t have to be very difficult. In fact, if you write it as you write your paper (or even before you begin actual writing but after you have completed your preliminary research), your abstract will provide a lot of good structure. Here are some instructions and tips.

  • Include the page header as described above

  • Center the word ‘abstract’ above your abstract. Do not bold, capitalize, italicize, or make it larger than any of the rest of the text.

  • Abstract should be roughly 150 – 200 words.

  • Italicize and center the word “keywords” and type out the keywords associated with your paper. This makes it easier for people to locate it when they are looking for it.


As usual, you should make sure that you have solid sources for your APA thesis. While this is the same as MLA-type papers, it is especially important with APA papers to make sure that your sources are solid and legitimate. Here are some quick tips on how to choose good sources.

  • Timeliness. Make sure that the studies you use were conducted recently. Old research is pretty much useless.

  • Credibility. Make sure that the research you are using comes from an institution that is well-respected. You can usually determine this with only a little bit of research. All articles published in major journals are peer-reviewed.

  • Academic merit. OK! Magazine is not peer-reviewed or rigorously fact-checked, and therefore it has little academic merit. Newspapers are the next step up, but should not be a sole source. Scholastic journals, on the other hand, are the best choice and can be cited fearlessly.

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