How to Write an Outline in APA Format

How to Write an Outline in APA Format at SolidEssay.comWriting an outline in APA format is quite different from other formats such as MLA, Harvard, etc. APA stands for American Psychological Association and the APA writing style has been designed by the association. It provides the basic template and layout style for writing a research paper or an outline in APA format. However, most of the time students are not aware of the intricacies involved in writing a research paper or an outline in APA format. This article will serve as a guide for those students who are thinking about writing an outline in APA format. Basically, APA format is used in the social sciences but it is not just limited to social sciences alone. However, its usage is more prevalent in the following subjects: Psychology, Economics, Criminology, Sociology, Linguistics, Business and Management Studies, Nursing, etc.

Some basic formatting to be used while writing an outline in APA format

  • The margin of the pages should be set to one inch – left, right, bottom and top.
  • The paragraphs should be double spaced. Single spaced paragraphs should never be used while writing an outline in APA format.
  • The font should be Times New Roman.
  • The font size should be 12 points.
  • In addition to the above information, the first page of the outline should contain the following information: name of the student, name of the guide/teacher or professor, title of the paper/course and date of the paper.

The above steps can be easily done using any word processor like Microsoft Word. MS Word has all the options and features that can help you in making and formatting the outline in standard APA format.

Some of the functions of MS Word required to format the outline in APA format are:

  • Indenting and Margin: Click on the File menu – Go to Page Setup. Clicking this sub menu will bring a pop-up window box that will show the margins of the document that you are currently working on. Now, to make one-inch margins, set the margin to 1” by entering it manually with the keyboard or by using the up or down arrows provided in the box. Make all the four sides – top, left, bottom and right to 1” and click OK to set it to 1” indenting.
  • Paragraph Spacing: To make the paragraph double-spaced, select the paragraphs in the outline. Click on Format menu, select Paragraph. It will open a new box which will be showing the Indents and Spacing tab selected by default. Select the Line Spacing drop down button and select the “Double” option; then click OK. The selected paragraphs of the outline will be double-spaced by performing the above steps.
  • Font Style: Generally, MS Word has Times New Roman as the default Font settings in its standard New Document template but if it’s not showing in your word document, you can change it easily by following one of the steps. The first step is to click on the Format Menu, select Font. A new popup box will appear. On the Fonts tab, select the font as Times New Roman from the list of fonts. The second step is to click on the font drop down menu which is positioned on the Formatting toolbar just below the Standard toolbar. The last option is to select whatever text you have typed, right click on the selected text. Select the Font option and change the font style to Times New Roman.
  • Font Size: For the font size to be set at 12 points, just repeat the above steps mentioned in the previous paragraph. But instead of selecting the font style, select the font size from the appropriate menu/drop down buttons.

Once the basic formatting level has been achieved, it is now time to organize and layout the main outline above formatting has been done in the outline document, the main outline needs to be constructed. You must be wondering by now: “how to write an outline in APA format”, as the above steps mention how to take care of the formatting, but not the main outline. The following steps will solve your problem in making an outline in APA format:

Basic criteria for making an outline in APA format:

  • The main headings (that come topmost on the pages) should always be accompanied by Roman Numerals (I, II, III, etc.) For example, if you are writing an essay on The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB, you should make your heading something like this: 

I. The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB 

This is the first and basic step in formatting your outline. After the main heading has been created and formatted with the Roman numeral at the beginning of the heading, it is now time to move to the next formatting level.

  • For making a subheading immediately after the main heading, you need to start the subheading sentence with a capital letter (English alphabets). In the above example, the main heading was on The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB. Suppose the subheading was “Introduction to Antibiotics”. The subheading should start with the letter A. (in capitals) and should look something like this:                                                                                                                                             

A. Introduction to Antibiotics

So now the heading and the subheading should look like this:

I. Role of antibiotics in control of TB
     A. Introduction to Antibiotics

  • If you want to add more than one subheading to your main heading, you can do that just by adding the next alphabet in capital letters at the start of the next subheading. For example, if you want to add a second subheading to the above example, say “The effect of Antibiotics on the Human Body”, you should write like this:

B. The Effect of Antibiotics on the Human Body

Now the heading and subheading will look like this:

I. The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB
     A. Introduction to Antibiotics
     B. The Effect of Antibiotics on the Human Body 

  • If you want to add further subheadings to the subheading, you should do it with Arab numerals (1,2, 3 and so on). For example, if there is a subheading titled “How Does Antibody React With the Antigen” under the parent heading B, it should be written as:

1.  How Does Antibody React With the Antigen?

Now the outline should look something like this:

I. The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB
     A. Introduction to Antibiotics
     B. The Effect of Antibiotics on the Human Body
          1. How Does Antibody React With the Antigen?

  • Now if there are some more subheadings, under the last subheading, it should be followed by lower case letters (a, b, c ….). If there are more subheadings to the parent subheading, then it should start with Arab numerals in parenthesis. An example to elucidate the above is mentioned here for you:   

I. The Role of Antibiotics in Control of TB
     A. Introduction to Antibiotics
     B. The Effect of Antibiotics on the Human Body
          1. How Does Antibody React With the Antigen?
               a. Antigen – antibodies interaction
                   (1) Enzymes That Help in the Interaction of Antigens

Remember that writing an outline in APA format is quite different from writing an outline in MLA format. You should use parallelism in the outline structure, which will help in maintaining uniformity and consistency between the headings and subheadings. Coordination, subordination and division between the headings and subheadings are also an important element to be kept in mind while writing an outline in APA format. Writing an outline in APA format can be a lot easier if the above steps and guidelines are followed.

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