APA Style includes guidelines for paragraph alignment and indentation to ensure that papers are formatted in a consistent and readable manner. All writers should follow these guidelines.

Paragraph alignment

Align the text of an APA Style paper to the left margin. Leave the right margin uneven, or “ragged.” Do not use full justification for student papers or manuscripts being submitted for publication.

Do not insert hyphens (manual breaks) in words at the end of line. However, it is acceptable if your word-processing program automatically inserts breaks in long hyperlinks (such as in a DOI or URL in a reference list entry).

Paragraph indentation

Indent the first line of each paragraph of text 0.5 in. from the left margin. Use the tab key or the automatic paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program to achieve the indentation (the default setting is likely already 0.5 in.). Do not use the space bar to create indentation.

Exceptions to these paragraph-formatting requirements are as follows:

  • title page: For professional papers, the title (in bold), byline, and affiliations should be centered on the title page. For student papers, the title (in bold), byline, affiliations, course number and name, instructor, and assignment due date should be centered on the title page.
  • section labels: Section labels (e.g., “Abstract,” “References”) should be centered (and bold).
  • abstract: The first line of the abstract should be flush left (not indented).
  • block quotations: Indent a whole block quotation 0.5 in. from the left margin. If the block quotation spans more than one paragraph, the first line of the second and any subsequent paragraphs of the block quotation should be indented another 0.5 in., such that those first lines are indented a total of 1 in.
  • headings: Level 1 headings should be centered (and in bold), and Level 2 and 3 headings should be left-aligned (and in bold or bold italic, respectively). Level 4 and 5 headings are indented like regular paragraphs.
  • tables and figures: Table and figure numbers (in bold), titles (in italics), and notes should be flush left.
  • reference list: Reference list entries should have a hanging indent of 0.5 in.
  • appendices: Appendix labels and titles should be centered (and bold).

Paragraph alignment and indentation are covered in Sections 2.23 and 2.24 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

From the APA Style blog

APA Style student papers webinar

A new APA Style webinar, “A Step-by-Step Guide for APA Style Student Papers,” taking place on September 10, 2020, will provide detailed guidance on creating, formatting, and organizing APA Style student papers.

Last updated: July 2022Date created: September 2019