5 Essential APA Formatting Nursing Paper Guidelines

The American Psychological Association (APA) style is commonly used in writing papers in nursing and other social sciences. Adhering to APA formatting guidelines provides consistency and ensures your paper conforms to academic standards. Properly formatting your nursing paper in APA style demonstrates attention to detail and enhances credibility. This article outlines five key formatting tips when writing a paper for nursing studies using APA style:

1. Use the Correct Font and Font Size

APA Formatting Nursing Paper Guidelines  requires using Times New Roman font at 12 point size. This crisp, highly readable serif font allows quick scanning of the text. Avoid stylized fonts like bold or italics to emphasize words in your text. The 12 point font size enhances readability when printed out. Using bigger fonts makes the paper appear simpler while smaller fonts crowd the text and strain the reader. These specifications apply to the entire document including headings, block quotations, tables, charts, footnotes and reference entries. For student submissions, educators often insist on strict adherence to the Times New Roman 12 point APA font and size guidelines.

2. Double Space the Entire Paper

Consistently double space the entire paper, starting from the title page to references. This includes the abstract, block quotations, table and figure captions, footnotes and reference list. Do not insert extra spaces between paragraphs or sections. The purpose of double spacing is improved readability and clarity for the reader. Exceptions to double spacing include headings, table contents and notes. Headings are formatted single spaced above paragraph blocks. Tables are single spaced but double space is inserted between table and proceeding text. Table notes are single spaced. Adhering to double spacing creates neat and organized pages free of dense blocks of text separated by irregular white spaces.

3. Structure Page Margins

In APA, page margins are set at 1 inch on all four sides – top, bottom, left and right. Margins must remain fully aligned without variations throughout the paper. The 1 inch margin allocation creates sufficient white space to frame the text. Smaller margins cramp the text while larger margins risk the reader missing content when the paper is bound. Keep margins identical across headers, footers, tables, charts, images and appendices. Avoid widening only right margins for binding adjusts. Stick to 1 inch top, bottom, left and right margins throughout the nursing paper for neat presentation and readability.

4. Include a Running Head

APA formatted papers must incorporate a page header called a “running head”. This appears on every page flush left in the page header. The running head displays an abbreviated version of the paper’s full title in all capital letters without exceeding 50 characters. The running head allows quick identification of the paper focus and helps track pages. For student submissions, on the title page only, precede the running head with “Running head:” and provide the complete title. Subsequent pages only show the abbreviated running head title in caps without “Running head:”. Keep the running head consistently visible in the same position on every page.

5. Reference in APA Style

When including in-text citations and sources in the reference list or bibliography, follow APA reference guidelines strictly. Adhere to rules for direct quotes, paraphrasing, summarizing, academic format for source types, punctuation and text styling. Provide author name, publication year, title and other required elements accurately. Order reference list entries alphabetically starting with author surname. Do not number entries. Double space references with hanging indent at 0.5 inches for second and subsequent lines of each entry. Keep the reference page title bold and references double spaced. Correct referencing demonstrates rigorous academic ethics and provides complete source details for the reader.

Supplementary APA Formatting Nursing Paper Guidelines

Additionally, implement the following suggestions for optimal APA style adherence when writing your nursing paper:

– Use proper level headings formatted in boldface.

– Include appropriate Appendices formatted in order of appearance.

– Use page numbers in top right header aligned flush right.

– Place tables and figures as soon as possible after first mention.

– Italicize statistical symbols but not Greek letters, abbreviations or biological terms.

– Use formal, scholarly language suitable for an academic audience.

– Avoid using ampersands (&) in the paper text and write out as “and”.

– Do not use titles Dr. or Professor to refer to study participants in the text.

– Write all numbers below 10 as words while keeping larger numbers in numerals.

– Express percentages as figures followed by the % symbol without spacing.

– Avoid contractions, abbreviations and slang terms in formal writing.

– Use active voice and first person pronouns only when citing authority.

– Employ clear, concise, scientific language avoiding verbosity and repetitive words.


APA formatting contains precise specifications that may seem tedious at first. However, adhering to the guidelines consistently gives your nursing paper a standardized appearance. Accurate APA style demonstrates attention to detail, enhances scholarly tone, and reveals credible academic writing skills. Use these essential APA tips to professionally format your next nursing paper. Consistent application soon makes following the style guidelines instinctive. Consult the latest APA manual if in doubt and work closely with instructors to refine formatting skills. With practice, APA style compliance becomes second nature when writing nursing papers.