APA Research Essay Guide and Sample Outline

The American Psychological Association (APA) is one of the most widely used formats for writing research papers and research essays.

It involves the use of a different layout and format, much like a professional, scientific report. If you’re unfamiliar with using the APA format, it can help to look at the APA essay outline sample in this article.

Aside from an outline sample, we’ll also be discussing the basics of using the APA format. Getting to know the basics of this format is necessary if you want to write effective papers and reports. It can come in handy whether you’re a researcher or a student.

Keep on reading to learn more!

What is the APA Format?

The APA format is a writing style used for academic documents like journal articles and books. It uses select fonts, punctuations and layouts. Its usage has become widespread as guidelines for both APA-approved and publicly released academic research papers.

This is commonly used when citing sources within the field of behavioral and social sciences, including:

  • Education
  • Sociology
  • Criminal justice
  • Anthropology
  • Psychology

General APA Format Guidelines

There is no specific format for creating an APA outline. The form that your outline will take will mainly depend on what your instructor requires or your personal preferences.

Although the official APA publication manual does not provide specific guidance on outline preparation, it does list general guidelines you can follow.

  • The traditional font used in APA is Times New Roman on a 12-point scale. Other legible serifs and sans serif fonts such as Arial or Georgia are also acceptable.
  • Double-space the text in your paper. On all sides of each page, you should have 1-inch margins (top, bottom, left, and right). And you should place your page number on the upper right corner of each page.
  • The introduction, the main body, and a conclusion are the three main sections your outline should have.

Steps for Writing an Outline in APA Format

Choose your topic

It would be best if you chose a research topic that you can build and write a good paper around. Create a strong thesis for your paper that is related to your chosen topic, then begin researching this topic. Here are some key points that you can keep in mind during your research:

  • Think about your main arguments
  • Make sure you keep your research organized
  • Gather facts and studies that support your thesis
  • Make a working outline to help organize your paper

Start your writing

Start with a brief introduction that introduces your topic, provides background information, and introduces readers to your central thesis. Using your working outline, write the main body of your paper. Here are a few essential points to remember when you write your essay:

  • Follow the instruction that your instructor specifies
  • Use research-based evidence to support your arguments
  • Organize your ideas from the most relevant to the least relevant
  • Make sure to keep track of your information sources. You’ll need to cite these later on.

End with a firm conclusion

Briefly summarize the main points or arguments of your paper and describe possible avenues or topics for future study. The conclusion should also include your research results and what they entail.

APA Essay Outline Sample

Title Page

  • Essay Title
  • Student Name
  • Professor’s Name
  • Class (Optional)


  • Opening Paragraph.

Thesis Statement

  • Brief Description of the Entire Paper.
  • Link the Sentence to the First Body Paragraph.

Body Paragraphs

  • Evidence/Reference.
  • Explanation (Related to the Thesis).
  • Link the Sentence to the Second or Third Body Paragraph.


  • Summary of the Entire Paper.
  • A Conclusive Sentence.


  • Footnotes or Bibliography

Wrapping Up

Outlines help you organize your thoughts, introduce details, and layout categories. With the help of this simple APA essay outline sample, you can get started on writing an excellent and professional essay. Remember to do thorough research about your topic so you can create a concrete essay. Good luck!

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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