How to set up APA-size paper in Google Docs

  • You can write an APA-formatted paper in Google Docs using its built-in tools or a template.
  • The basics of the APA 7 format include double-spaced lines, a continuous header, and a title page – all of which can be executed in Google Docs.
  • The Google Docs template page contains pre-made APA 6 and APA 7 documents that you can also use.
  • Visit the Insiders Tech Reference Library for more stories.

While some students write in MLA format, others write in APA format. APA – short for American Psychological Association – is a standardized format for writing academic articles, especially in sociology, psychology, and other behavioral or social sciences. It has specific rules for how your essays should look and how they should be structured.

The APA format has changed a few times over the decades (right now we’re on APA Seventh Edition, or “APA 7”), but the basics have remained the same. And whatever version of APA format you use, you can configure it all using Google Docs.

How to create an APA essay in Google Docs, either manually or using a template.

How to set up APA-size paper in Google Docs

Like other style guides, the APA format has a number of rules and standards. Here are the most important guidelines for structuring your paper along with tips on how to comply with these guidelines in Google Docs.

  • The font must be legible and consistent.

APA is not strict as to what font to use or even what size it should be. It just needs to be readable and you need to use the same font throughout your paper (with the exception of numbers, computer code and footnotes). Some common choices are 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Arial and 11-point Calibri.

You can change your font and font size using the toolbar at the top of the screen. If you are trying to change text that you have already typed, just make sure to highlight it first.

A Google Docs document with the font menu opened.

Your font and font size must be readable.

Google; William Antonelli / Insider

  • Your entire document should have 1-inch margins and double-spaced lines.

All Google Docs documents have blank margins by default, so you probably do not have to worry about that. If you want to double check or change them anyway, you can change the margins using Page setup menu or ruler function.

In the meantime, you can enable double spacing with Line and section spacing menu on the toolbar above your document. Highlight all the text in your document, then select Double in this menu to activate double spacing.

  • Each page should have a header with the paper title at the top left and the page number at the top right.

Google Docs allows you to add headlines to any page. You can add automatic page numbers through Insert menu, then double-click the heading to add your title to the left if necessary.

Remember that they must have the same font and font size as the rest of your paper.

  • Your paper should have a title page with your name, bold title paper, “institutional affiliation” and more.

Probably the most important part of an APA paper is the title page. It should include the title of the paper in bold, your name and your “institutional affiliation” – the school or organization you are writing for. If you are a student, you must also add the course number and name, your instructor’s name and submission date.

All of this information should be centered in the top half of the first page. You can find Google Docs’ customization options in the toolbar at the top of the page. Highlight your text and select Center adjuster in this menu to center everything.

The title page of an APA-formatted paper.

The title page of an APA-formatted paper, with all the optional elements included.

Google; William Antonelli / Insider

  • Your paper should end with a reference page and each entry should be written with a hanging indentation.

The last part of your paper is References page. Be sure to put it on a new page (or pages, depending on how many you need to quote).

The word “References” should be centered and bold on the very first line of the page. You can center the words using the setting options mentioned above and bold them by clicking The B icon.

Enter all your references in alphabetical order and use the ruler to give each one a hanging indent – in other words, each line after the first should be indented.

The reference page on an APA formatted paper.

Your quotes need hanging indentations that you can make with the ruler tool.

Google; William Antonelli / Insider

How to use Google Docs’ APA format templates

While you can manually format your paper, Google Docs also offers two different APA templates – one for APA 7 and another for APA 6. These templates allow you to meet most of the APA guidelines right away, but you should probably still changing some of it.

To use one of these templates:

1. Go to the Google Docs website and click Template Gallery upper right.

The Google Docs website with "Template Gallery" opportunity highlighted.

Go to your account’s template gallery.

Google; William Antonelli / Insider

2. Scroll down the template page until you reach Education section. In this section, click either Report [APA 6th ed] or Report [APA 7th ed].

APA 6th ed.  and APA 7th ed.  templates in Google Docs.

There are two APA options.

Google; William Antonelli / Insider

3. A page opens with APA-size paper already written in fake Lorem Ipsum language. Most of the formatting is there, so just replace the prescribed words with your own.

You can find these templates in the mobile app by pressing the plus sign icon at the bottom right, then select Select template.

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