Essay APA editing


No student, for any reasons ever, should submit an essay to an instructor or professor without reviewing and editing it. It should be a polished piece. In editing, students will look for the following: A solid thesis statement; Well-developed paragraphs with topic sentences; Good transitions; Logical flow; Grammar and mechanics.

In addition to these elements of editing, there is another piece – that formatting. Instructors and professors can be very picky. When they require a specific formatting, they want to see it utilized correctly. You should have a style guided – often these are provided by instructors or the college. If you do not have one, then access the one published online by the American Psychological Association. This should serve as your reference as you format any essay or paper in APA style – download it.

How to Edit an APA Essay
  • 1

    They Physical Layout of the Essay. While there is nothing difficult here, the layout “rules” are detailed. Here is what you are looking for:

    • There is a standalone title page.
    • The title is centered above the fold
    • Your name is centered below the title, following a double space
    • Your college’s name is centered below your name, following a double space
    • You have a running header in the left upper corner of your essay which is also the title. That header begins on the title page and goes through the entire piece
    • Pagination is in the upper right hand corner and also begins on your title page. (Your title page is page # 1)
    • There are no abbreviations in your title – Use upper and lower case letters just as you would with the title of anything.
    • All of your piece is double-spaced, unless you have a long quotation
    • There are one-inch margins all the way around
    • Paragraphs are indented one-half inch
    • Left margin is justified; right margin is not
    • Long quotations are indented one inch from the margins and are single-spaced
  • 2

    In-Text Citations. Over the years, APA in-text citing has changed. It is now quite simple. In general, a citation is in the form of parentheses at the end of what you are citing. Within that parentheses goes the author’s last name, a common and then the year of the publication.

    Book: Every night, 14 million American children go to bed hungry (Smith, 2016).

    Journal Article: Every night, 14 million American children go to bed hungry (Smith,

    2016, pp.42-43).

    Web Resource: Use the same format as you do for a journal article.

    Multiple Authors: when you have multiple authors, separate their names by commas and then the year of publication. Example: (Jones, Smith, 2014)

    Short Quotes: When a quote is less than 40 words, the quote should be contained within your text, and the citation just as shown above.

    Long Quotes: Any quote over 40 words must be indented and single-spaced as described above. The citation is just as shown above.

    You may also cite a work by putting the author’s name in your text followed by the date in parentheses. Example: Jones (2016) has determined that 14 million American children go to bed hungry every night.

    Go through each in-text citation and be certain you have them right.

  • 3

    End-of-Text Citations. In general, citations should be alphabetized by the author’s last name. If there is no author, use the first word of the title.

    Check to see that the second line of each citation has been indented one inch. Citations are not numbered.

    Check to see that you have included all of the information that APA requires – author(s), title, volume number if a journal, place of publication, and publishing company (if there is one). Generally, for journal articles and web resources, you will not have a place and a publisher, but you will have a journal title. Here are a few examples.


    Jones, B. (2016). Understanding Childhood Poverty in America, New York, NY: Allyn and   Bacon.

    Journal Article

    Jones, B. (2016). Understanding Childhood Poverty in America, Journal of American Sociology, Vol. 13, pp. 42-48.

    Web Resource

    Jones, B (May, 2016). Understanding Childhood Poverty in America. Journal of American Sociology, 16. Retrieved from

    There may be other types of resources you have used – presentations/speeches, interviews, etc. Check the APA guide and be certain that you have the details entered correctly.

Important Considerations
  • 1

    This is tedious, detailed work, but it must be done right.

  • 2

    Your style guide is your “bible” as far as format is concerned

  • 3

    As you become more used to using that APA style, it will get easier

Do and Don`t
  • Use that style guide if you have any question how a citation should be formatted
  • Use a checklist to make sure you have proofed every detail of layout and citation
  • If you do not understand something in the style guide, as your instructor for the correct formatting
  • If you find the proofing tedious, take breaks so you can stay focused
  • Take the time to get it right
  • Don’t hurry through format proofing – there’s lots of detail.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance your instructor may place on correct formatting
  • Don’t just guess. Get out the style guide and check.
  • Don’t gloss over the requirements for the physical layout. Margins and indentations are precise – you must be precise.
  • Don’t make you title too long. APA recommends 40 characters
Mistakes to Avoid
  • The biggest mistake is not paying attention to the detail that is involved in format proofing. Go through each requirement and check carefully.
  • End-of-text citations have the largest potential for error. Not checking the style guide carefully for the “rules” can be disastrous.
  • Not setting the margins correctly is a common error. If you don’t know how to set margins and tab indentations, get someone to show you how to do this.
  • Punctuation is important both with in-text and end-of-text citations. A common mistake is in those punctuation requirements. Be sure that you have used commas and periods correctly.
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