Optimizing Readability: Unveiling the Magic of APA Format Headers

Reading an academic paper that lacks structure can feel like being stuck in a maze. In contrast, a well-oriented essay or research can effectively communicate its ideas and arguments. Popular formatting styles, like APA, MLA, and Chicago, can help you achieve a solid structure for your paper.

Most students prefer the APA style format to compose their papers because it’s the easiest to follow for academic papers out of all three styles, especially if you belong to the fields of humanities or sociology. This article will take a deeper dive into the APA header format, its characteristics, and how it can affect the rest of the formatting of your paper. 

What is the APA Format Header?

A header is a reference to the context of a paper that appears at the top of the page, separate from the body. The American Psychological Association (APA) formatting requires a header to provide information about the author and the research. This header holds the entire essay or paper together like a linchpin, especially lengthy research like theses and dissertations. 

APA format header, also known as APA style header, is placed at the top of each paper of the document, typically including information about the title of the paper, page number, and sometimes even the author’s name. 

APA format header example: 

Why Use the Header in APA Format? 

Your header plays a key role in formatting a research paper as it holds all the essential information that helps readers; 

  • Navigating and identifying your college essay or papers’ contents.
  • Understanding the purpose and context of the essay.
  • Locating specific information within the document.

Component of APA Format Headers 

If you’re new to APA style formatting, understanding these elements is essential for creating a professional and polished paper that meets the strict requirements of the APA header format. 

  • Title of the paper 
  • Page number 
  • Running head
  • (if required) Author’s name

Formatting Guidelines for Header in APA Format 

When it comes to organizing an APA-style research paper, there are two key things to keep in mind: the required components and the formatting process itself. In this section of our article, we will explain the process of formatting each component, as well as provide a step-by-step guide for adding the header in APA format on different files.

Arranging Components of APA Format Header

As mentioned above, all the components of an APA format header need proper formatting. In the content below, we have explained why these aspects are important in creating a header and how to format them.

Creating a Running Head

A running head is a header that exists on every page of a document or a paper and contains a shortened version of the paper’s title. The goal is to provide a quick and easy way for readers to identify the paper and to keep the pages in order. 

One important thing to remember while adding a running head on APA cover page is to mention “Running Head” and add a colon before you write the title of the page. 

APA format Header Example: Running Head 

 When creating a running head, it’s important to follow these specific guidelines.

  • It should be at most 50 characters, including the spaces and punctuation.
  • It should be in all capital letters
  • It should be aligned flush left on the page
  • It must appear on the title page along with the rest of the paper with the main body.
  • Avoid putting it on the abstract page and any page that doesn’t contain the main body.
  • In case of titles longer than 50 characters, They should be in all capital letters and aligned flush left on the page. 

Inserting Page Numbers

Anyone who consumes written academic content should be grateful for page numbering. There are several reasons why you should number your academic essays or research papers; 

  • A page number assists readers in locating specific information within the paper.
  • Provides a sense of structure and orientation to the document
  • Helps the author to reference specific information in footnotes, glossary, or bibliography.

It’s important to be mindful of the guidelines of APA style format when it comes to adding numbers to the page. According to the instructions, your page number should be;

  • Be placed in the top right corner of your page.
  • Be an inch away from the right margin.
  • Be in Arabic numerals, i.e., 1,2,3 

Steps on Creating an APA Format Header in Microsoft Word

With Microsoft Word, writing an academic paper can be easier and more efficient for students and professionals. MS Word’s user-friendly interface and formatting tools make it a popular choice for writing academic papers. Its features, such as spell check, grammar check, word count, and the ability to insert tables, figures, and citations, ensure a well-written and organized paper. 

Customizing headers, footers, margins, and spacing to add a professional look to your paper is a piece of cake if you know how to do it. And that’s exactly what we will teach you in the instructions below. 

  1. Double-click at the top of the page to open the header section.
  2. In the header section, select “Different First Page” under “Header & Footer Tools” on the “Design” tab.
  3. Type the title of your paper in all caps and align it to the left of the header section.
  4. Add a shortened version of your title (running head) in all caps to the right of the paper title, followed by the page number.
  5. To ensure that the header is consistent throughout the document, highlight the header section and select “Link to Previous” under “Header & Footer Tools” on the “Design” tab.
  6. Verify that the font is 12-point Times New Roman and that the header and page number are double-spaced.
  7. Save your document, and your APA header is complete.

These instructions can have minor changes according to the version of Microsoft Word you’re using. 

Step on Creating an APA Header Format in Google Documents.

When it comes to creating research papers, Google Docs has become a popular choice due to its simplicity and ease of use. Not only is it free, but it also allows for easy collaboration with peers or professors. 

Adding an APA header to your paper in Google Docs is a straightforward process that can ensure that your paper is properly formatted according to APA guidelines. By following a few simple steps, you can customize your header with your paper’s title, running head, and page number, ensuring that your research paper looks professional and polished.

  1. Open your Google Doc and go to the top menu.
  2. Click on “Insert” and then select “Header & page number” and then “Header”.
  3. In the header section, click on “Edit” and then select “Add section break (Next page)”.
  4. Type the title of your paper in all caps and align it to the left of the header section.
  5. Add a shortened version of your title (running head) in all caps to the right of the paper title, followed by the page number.
  6. Ensure the font is set to 12-point Times New Roman and that the header and page number are double-spaced.
  7. To ensure that the header is consistent throughout the document, click on “Link to Previous” in the header section and make sure it is turned off.
  8. Save your document, and your APA header is complete.

Note that the steps above may vary slightly depending on the version of Google Docs you are using. But these general steps should work for most versions.

Common Mistake to Avoid While Composing an APA Format Header

When composing an APA Format Header, it’s important to avoid certain mistakes that can detract from the professionalism and clarity of your paper. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Including unnecessary information: Your header should include only the essential information, such as the running head and page number. Avoid adding additional text or graphics that do not serve a purpose.
  • Using the wrong font or size: APA format requires a specific font and size for the header (Times New Roman, 12pt). Make sure to double-check your formatting before submitting your paper.
  • Placing the header in the wrong location: The header should be placed in the upper right-hand corner of each page, including the APA cover page.
  • Forgetting to update the header: If you make changes to the running head or page number, update the header on each page to reflect these changes.
  • Using incorrect capitalization: Follow APA guidelines for capitalization in the header, which requires the first letter of each major word to be capitalized.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your APA Format Header is professional and accurate, setting the stage for a polished and well-organized paper.

Bonus Tips on Using Header in APA Format

As established, using a header for APA format enhances your academic and professional papers. It helps to provide important information about the author and the document’s contents. Here are a few bonus tips on effectively using APA format header for your paper writing help.

Reviewing APA Style Guideline

One important step in how to write a research paper impactfully is using the correct formatting. Before you start working on your paper, review all the formatting guidelines, in this case, APA style, to ensure you’re on the right path. This includes information about the font size, style, margins, APA headings, spacing, and headers. 

Using a Template

To make the process of formatting your document easier, consider using an APA format template. This can help you to ensure that you are following the correct formatting rules and can save you time in the formatting process.

Asking for Feedback

Once you’re done formatting your academic or professional paper, ask for your peers’ or instructor’s feedback. This can be incredibly helpful as a fresh set of eyes can pinpoint areas that require improvement and ensure your header section is clear and well-formatted.


After going through this post you are another step closer to mastering the art of paper writing, as this article is part of the bigger guide on what is APA format. Adding a running header in your academic writing will help you compose well-structured and influential college papers. Adopting our instructions on APA header format, along with APA headings and APA cover page, will maximize the readability of your paper.

But it’s understandable if you’re still confused about APA formatting or you may not have enough time to go through thorough tutorials. Don’t worry; our research paper writing service is here to help you achieve academic excellence by providing top-notch assistance that ensures your papers are well-organized, properly formatted, and fully optimized for success. Don’t settle for mediocre grades or poorly written papers when you can get the help you need from our experts.

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