How to Do APA Format on Google Docs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Writing an APA format paper on Google Docs is a breeze once you know the steps. You’ll need to set your margins, choose the correct font and size, insert a running head, create a title page, format the main body, and add references. The steps below will guide you through the process, so you can focus on writing your paper without worrying about formatting.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to do APA Format on Google Docs

Before we dive into the details, let’s quickly recap what APA format entails. The American Psychological Association (APA) style is commonly used for writing papers in the social sciences. It has specific guidelines for formatting documents, including margins, headings, and the reference list.

Step 1: Set Your Margins

Set the margins to 1 inch on all sides.

After opening a new Google Docs document, click on "File," then "Page Setup." Here, you’ll set your margins to 1 inch on all sides—top, bottom, left, and right. This is the standard for APA format.

Step 2: Choose the Correct Font and Size

Set the font to Times New Roman, size 12.

APA format requires the use of Times New Roman, size 12. To change the font in Google Docs, select the text, click on the font dropdown menu in the toolbar, and choose "Times New Roman." Then, click on the font size dropdown and select "12."

Step 3: Insert a Running Head

Add a header with a shortened title and page number.

Click on "Insert," then "Header & Page Number," and select "Header." Type the words "Running head:" followed by a shortened version of your title in all caps. Then, insert a page number by clicking on "Insert," "Header & Page Number," and "Page Number."

Step 4: Create a Title Page

Format your title page according to APA guidelines.

The title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and your institution. Center this information in the upper half of the page. Remember not to use any headers or footers on the title page.

Step 5: Format the Main Body

Organize the main body with proper headings and indentation.

Use headings to organize the main sections of your paper. Format your paragraphs with a 0.5-inch indentation at the beginning of each paragraph. To indent, simply hit the "Tab" key on your keyboard.

Step 6: Add References

Create a reference list at the end of your paper.

On a new page, title it "References" and center the title. Then, list your sources in alphabetical order and use a hanging indent for each reference entry. To create a hanging indent, highlight your references, click on "Format," "Align & Indent," and "Indentation Options." Set the "Special Indent" to "Hanging."

After completing these steps, your document will be formatted according to APA guidelines, and you’ll be ready to submit your paper.

Tips: How to do APA Format on Google Docs

  • Always double-check the APA guidelines, as they can update with new editions.
  • Use the "Clear Formatting" option if you’ve copied and pasted text from another source to ensure consistency.
  • Utilize Google Docs’ "Explore" feature to find and cite sources directly.
  • Collaborate with classmates or colleagues by sharing the document and editing it together in real time.
  • Remember to save your document regularly to avoid losing any progress.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the running head in APA format?

The running head is a shortened version of your paper’s title, appearing at the top of each page.

Can I use fonts other than Times New Roman for APA format?

While Times New Roman is the standard, some institutions may allow other fonts. Always check with your instructor or publication guidelines.

Do I need to manually insert page numbers on each page?

No, Google Docs will automatically add page numbers to each page after you insert it once in the header.

How do I share my APA formatted document with others on Google Docs?

Click on the "Share" button in the upper right corner, enter the email addresses of those you wish to share with, and set their editing permissions.

Can I do APA format on Google Docs using a mobile device?

Yes, you can use the Google Docs app on a mobile device to format your document, though some features may be limited.


  1. Set 1-inch margins on all sides.
  2. Use Times New Roman, size 12 font.
  3. Insert a running head with a shortened title and page number.
  4. Create a title page with the title, your name, and institution.
  5. Format the main body with proper headings and indentation.
  6. Add a reference list with a hanging indent.


Mastering how to do APA format on Google Docs not only ensures your paper meets academic standards but also enhances its overall presentation. With the user-friendly features of Google Docs, formatting your paper in APA style can be done with ease and efficiency. Remember to pay attention to details such as font type, size, margin settings, and proper heading usage. By following the steps outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to creating a polished and professional-looking paper.

If you’re new to APA format or Google Docs, don’t hesitate to revisit this article as a reference guide. Practice makes perfect, and with time, formatting your papers in APA style will become second nature. And, of course, if you have any further questions or need clarification, there are plenty of resources available online to assist you. Happy writing!