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How to Write a Research Proposal in the APA Style

The sixth edition of the “Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association” directs you how to format and structure your research proposal. This is the most common style used for proposal related to the social sciences. A research proposal in APA format should include a title, abstract, main body and references.

General Structure

APA format recommends that you type your proposal with a highly legible 12-point font, such as Times New Roman. It needs to be double-spaced. When you write a new paragraph, indent fives spaces or use the Tab key. Your paper should have a 1-inch margin on all sides. At the top of each page, insert a running head in the header. To format this correctly, write the title of your proposal in the upper left hand side and the page number in the upper right hand side. Your running head is limited to 50 characters, including spaces. If you must shorten your title, select the keywords.

For your research proposal, your title page should include your paper’s title, your name and your university’s name. Other information that may appear on the title page includes submission date, budget period, total funds requested or advisor’s name, depending on your proposal’s audience. APA style recommends that your title is no more than 12 words in length. All text on this page should be double-spaced. When listing names, do not include any titles or degrees. The running head is different on the title page than the rest of your paper. Format your running head so it says “Running head” followed by a colon and your title.

In APA format, your abstract is the second page of your paper. Despite appearing at the beginning of your paper, plan to write your research proposal last. This is a brief summary of your entire paper. In a 150- to 250-word paragraph, state your problem, and propose a solution for it. To properly format this page, center the word “Abstract” without any additional formatting on the first line of the page. Following a double-space, write your paragraph. Do not indent this paragraph. After your summary, indent five spaces and write the word, “Keywords” in italics followed by a colon. Then list keywords related to your proposal.

In-Text Citations

Every sentence that references another person’s work must include an in-text citation. The APA recommends that you use the author-date method. Write the author’s name and the publication year within parentheses at the end of the referencing sentence. For example, “One study found that the most important element in comprehending non-native speech is familiarity with the topic (Gass & Varonis, 1984).”

At the end of your proposal, APA style advises that you create a references page that lists citations for all of your references. Label this page with the word “References” centered on the first line of the page. Then list all the sources used within your proposal in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. For any references that are longer than one line, indent all subsequent lines by five spaces.

When writing references, APA style recommends that you give the author’s last name and then use initials for all other names. For a single author book, write the author’s last name, a comma, first initial and a period. Next, write the publication year in parentheses. Place a period outside the last parenthesis. Then write the title of the book in italics and sentence case, a period, the city, a comma, the state, a colon, the publisher’s name and a period. A reference may look like this:

Zerby, C. (2002). Devil’s details: A history of footnotes. Montpelier, VT: Invisible Cities Press.

  • University of North Carolina Charlotte: Outline for Research Reports and Proposals Using APA Style
  • Purdue University: APA Formatting and Style Guide: General Format
  • University of Michigan: Proposal Writer's Guide: The Title
  • Penn State University: APA In-Text Citation Guide
  • Purdue University: APA Formatting and Style Guide: Reference List: Books
  • College of Charleston: APA Citation Style for a Bibliography/Works Cited Page

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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APA 7th Edition Formatting

A Simple, Step-by-Step Guide + Free Template

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewer: Eunice Rautenbach (DTech) | June 2023

Formatting your paper in APA 7th edition can feel like a pretty daunting task , and understandably so. In this post, we’ll walk you through the APA 7 requirements, step by step. We’ll also share our free APA template , which you can use to fast-track your writing.

Student vs Professional Papers

First things first, it’s important to clarify that APA 7th edition has slightly different requirements for two different types of papers: student papers and professional papers . In this post, we’ll focus on the requirements for student papers. This will cover pretty much any paper you’ll need to submit as part of a degree program, including a dissertation or thesis (although those can require some small tweaks – more on that later).

Overview: APA 7th Edition Formatting

  • APA structure and layout
  • General page setup
  • The title page
  • The abstract
  • The main body
  • The reference list
  • The appendices
  • Free APA template

Structure and Layout

Let’s start by looking at the overall structure of a student paper formatted for APA 7th edition, before diving into the details of each section. APA requires that your paper follows a very specific, standardised structure , consisting of the following parts:

The title page : this will include the title of your paper, as well as a subtitle (if required by your university). It will also contain some information about yourself, your department and the course you’re writing the paper for.

The abstract : depending on the length of your paper and the requirements of your university, you may be required to present a brief abstract, summarising the core takeaways from your paper.

The main body : this section is the “heart” of your paper, containing the bulk of your word count. This is where you’ll present your A-grade writing!

The reference list : this section is where you’ll detail all the reference information corresponding to the in-text citations in the main body of your paper (the previous section).

Tables and figures: in the vast majority of cases, universities require that tables and figures are included in the main body of the paper, but if that’s not the case, the alternative is to have a dedicated section for the tables and figures. This is uncommon though, but we’ve mentioned it just in case.

The appendices : depending on the length of your paper and the specific requirements of your university, you may be required to include an appendix or a set of appendices containing supplementary information, such as data sets or evidence of some sort of fieldwork.

These core sections form the standard structure and order of a student paper using APA 7th edition. As we mentioned, not all of these sections are always required (specifically, the abstract, tables and figures section, and the appendix are less common), so be sure to check what your university expects from you before submitting.

Now that we’ve got a big-picture view, let’s look at the specific formatting requirements for each of these sections, step by step.

Generic Page Setup

Before you jump into writing up your paper, you’ll need first set up your document to align with APA 7th edition’s generic page requirements. Alternatively, you download our APA template (which comes fully preformatted) to fast-track your writing.

APA 7th edition requires a 1-inch margin on all sides of your document, for all pages. That said, if you’re writing a dissertation, thesis or any document that will ultimately be bound, your university will likely require a larger left margin to accommodate for binding.

Fonts & sizing

You’ll need to use a specific font and font size consistently throughout your student paper. The approved options for APA 7th edition are as follows:

  • Sans serif fonts: 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode
  • Serif fonts: 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or normal (10-point) Computer Modern (the default font for LaTeX)

Within figures , you will need to use a sans serif font, typically between 8 and 12 points in size. It’s best to check with your university what their preference is in this regard. For footnotes , you can use whatever the default settings are in your word processor.

In general, all text other than headings needs to be left-aligned and should not be justified . We’ll cover the formatting of headings a little later.

Line spacing

APA 7th edition requires double line spacing throughout the document . There should also be no extra space before and after paragraphs . One exception to this rule is that text within figures or tables can utilise single or 1.5-line spacing. Again, it’s a good idea to check with your university what their specific preference is.

Running header

Last but not least, you’ll need to set up a running header for your document. This should contain the page number and should be positioned in the top right corner of all pages (including the first page). There is no need for footer content unless your university specifically requests it.

With these generic formatting considerations out of the way, let’s dive into the specific requirements for each section of your paper.

The Title Page

The title page is the shop window of your paper; it’s where you make the all-important first impression to your reader. Therefore, it’s really important to make sure your format this exactly as required for APA 7th edition.

Here’s the process you can follow to set up your title page for success.

  • Centre-align your curson and create 4 empty lines
  • On a new line, type the title of your paper in boldface, using title case
  • On a new line, type the subtitle of your paper in boldface, using title case
  • Add one blank line, then write your full name on the next line
  • On a new line, type your affiliation (your department and university or school name)
  • On a new line, type your course code and course name (match the format used by the institution)
  • On a new line, type your professor or course instructor’s name
  • On a new line, type the due date for your paper

Remember to centre align all of this text and do not use justification . If you’re unsure about how to write using title case, here’s a useful title case converter . To make it all a little more tangible, below is an example of a title page formatted according to APA 7th edition specifications.

Example of a title page in APA 7 format

The Abstract

As we mentioned earlier, an abstract is not always required for student papers, but if your university has indicated that they require one, you’ll need to follow a specific format for APA 7th edition. Here’s how you can set it up:

  • Start your abstract on a new page
  • On the first line, type “Abstract”. This should be boldface and centred
  • On a new line, write the abstract. This should be aligned flush left (no indentation) and is typically 150 – 250 words in length.
  • On a new line, type “Keywords:”. This should be indented a half inch and italicized
  • On the same line, include 3 – 5 relevant keywords. These should all be written in lowercase and should not be italicised. They should be separated by commas and there should be no period after the final keyword.

Here’s an example of an abstract page formatted according to APA 7th edition specifications.

Example of APA 7 abstract

The Main Body

Now we can move on to the important stuff – the body section of your paper. There are quite a few things you need to know about formatting this section for APA 7th edition – let’s unpack it step by step.

Initial set-up

To kick things off, insert a page break and start your main body on a new page . You can then copy and paste the title (and subtitle, if you have one) from your title page onto the first line of your body page.

With your title (and subtitle) in place, you can start your write-up on a new line . This should be left-aligned and the first line of each paragraph should have a half-inch indent . As with the rest of your paper, this section should use double-line spacing.

The first paragraph of your main body does not require a heading as it’s generally assumed that the first paragraph will be introductory in nature. For the rest of the body, you can use headings as you see fit. However, it’s important to understand the specific formatting requirements for APA headings . Here’s a quick overview:

Level 1: Centered, boldface, title case (paragraph text starts on a new line) Level 2: Flush left, boldface, title case (paragraph text starts on a new line) Level 3: Flush left, boldface, italic, title case (paragraph text starts on a new line) Level 4: Indented, boldface, title case, end the heading with a period (paragraph text starts on the same line) Level 5: Indented, boldface, italic, end the heading with a period (paragraph text starts on the same line)

It’s also important to note that headings shouldn’t be labelled with any numbers or letters. For example, “1. Potential Causes”, “2. Consequences”, etc. Instead, you can stick to purely descriptive headings.

Related to this, you should avoid using an excessing number of headings – less is more when it comes to headings. Don’t feel the need to use multiple headings or heading levels, especially for shorter papers. Just keep it simple 🙂

APA 7 editing

Text styling and punctuation

APA 7th edition has specific requirements with regard to text styling and punctuation. Here are some of the most important requirements you’ll need to follow:

  • Use a single space (as opposed to a double space) at the end of each sentence (i.e., after the period)
  • Use an Oxford comma when listing out 3 or more items
  • Use words to write any number less than 10 , as well as when starting a sentence
  • Write out all fractions in text format (e.g., two-thirds, three-quarters, etc.)
  • Use numerals for any numbers that represent time , dates , age or money

There are a few important rules to follow in terms of language use when writing your paper using APA format. Most importantly, you’ll need to:

  • Use active voice (as opposed to passive voice) as much as possible
  • Stick to one verb tense throughout the same and adjacent paragraphs
  • Avoid using contractions , colloquial language or excessive jargon
  • Use bias-free language – you can learn more about this here

In-text citations

APA 7th edition has a very specific set of requirements regarding how to reference resources within your paper. Here are some of the most important things you need to be aware of:

Author-date system: in-text citations consist of (at a minimum) the lead author’s last name, followed by the date of publication. APA does not use numbers or footnotes to denote citations.

Types of citations: APA allows two types of in-text citations – parenthetical (non-integrative) and narrative (integrative). Parenthetical citations feature the author and date in parentheses (brackets) at the end of the respective sentence. Here’s an example:

APA 7th edition is easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog (Jansen, 2023).

Narrative citations weave the author into the flow of the sentence and only include the date in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Here’s an example:

Jansen states that APA 7th edition is easy for students to grasp if they visit the Grad Coach blog (2023).

Both of these citation formats are acceptable and, in general, it’s a good idea to utilise a mix of both in your writing.

Quotations: when quoting text verbatim from a source, you’ll need to include the page number of the original text in your citation. This number needs to be placed after the date portion of the citation, whether it’s a narrative or parenthetical citation. Here’s an example:

APA 7th edition is easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog (Jansen, 2023, p.45).

Multiple authors: when citing resources that were created by three or more authors, you only need to state the lead author’s last name, followed by “et al.”. Here’s an example:

APA 7th edition is easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog (Jansen et al., 2023).

As we mentioned, APA has an extensive set of requirements regarding how to format and structure in-text citations and references, so please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. If you’d like to learn more, you can visit the referencing section of the APA site here . Below you can find an example of a portion of body content from our free template , which demonstrates the different types of citations.

Example of APA 7 body text

The Reference List

With your body content taken care of, the next item on the agenda is the reference list . Again, APA has a notably large set of requirements regarding the content and formatting of the reference list. Nevertheless, we’ll cover the basics here to help you get started.

Basic setup

As with all sections, your reference list needs to start on a new page and should be titled “References”. The title should be boldfaced and centred . The reference list should then start on the next line. As with the rest of the document, the reference list should have double line spacing throughout.

The list itself

The reference list should comprise the following:

  • All sources cited in the body of your document should feature in the reference list. Make sure that every citation is accounted for in your reference list.
  • The references should be ordered alphabetically , according to the lead author’s last name .
  • Each entry must include (at a minimum) information regarding the author (s), publication date , the title of the article and the source (e.g., an academic journal).
  • All references should be left-aligned and should use a hanging indent – in other words, the second line of any given reference (if it has one) should be indented a half inch.

We have to stress that these are just the basics. APA 7th edition requires that all of your references must be structured and formatted in a very specific way , depending on the type of resource. For example, the content and formatting requirements for a journal article will be significantly different from that of a blog post or magazine article (you can see some examples in our template ).

Simply put, if you plan to draft your reference list manually, it’s important to consult your university’s style guide or the APA manual itself. This leads us to our next point…

In general, it is a terrible idea to try to write up your reference list manually . Given the incredibly high level of detail required, it’s highly likely that you’ll make mistakes if you try to write this section yourself. A much better solution is to use reference management software such as Mendeley or Zotero. Either of these will take care of the formatting and content for you, and they’ll do a much more accurate job of it too. Best of all, they’re both completely free.

If you’re not familiar with any sort of reference management software, be sure to check out our easy-to-follow explainer videos for both Mendeley and Zotero .

The Appendix

Last but not least, we’ve got the appendix (or appendices). The appendix is where you’ll showcase any supporting data for your student paper. This section is not always required , especially for shorter papers, so don’t worry if it sounds unfamiliar. If you’re unsure, check with your university if they require (or even allow) appendices.

If an appendix is required, here’s how you’ll set it up:

  • Start the appendix on a new page
  • Title the page “Appendix” if there is only one appendix , or “Appendix A”, “Appendix B”, etc. if there are multiple appendices . This title should be boldfaced and centred.
  • On a new line, write the title of the appendix . Again, this should be boldfaced and centred.
  • On a new line, start your appendix content . As with the body content, the first line of each paragraph should be indented.

An important point to remember is that you need to refer to your appendix within your main body section . This typically means including a line that reads something like “(see Appendix A for more information)”. In other words, your appendix should never be an orphan.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that appendices don’t typically earn marks (at least not directly). To be clear, your appendix can help support the claims you make in your body content (which would have a positive impact on its mark-earning potential), but, in most cases, markers will not award marks to the appendix content itself. If you’re unsure, check with your university what their policy is.

Example of an APA 7 formatted appendix

Wrapping Up

In this post, we’ve provided a primer covering the core requirements for student papers using APA 7th edition . To recap, we’ve looked at the following:

One last thing to point out; it might be obvious but it’s important to mention it – if your university has specified anything that contrasts what we’ve discussed here, do follow their guidance . Some universities and/or programmes will have slight variations on the standard APA requirements, and you want to make sure you follow them.

apa essay proposal format

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This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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APA Question

APA does not have a specific format for research proposal papers or outlines.  For some recommendations on how to incorporate APA style into research proposals or outlines, go to .  Remember to follow all APA rules of formatting by viewing the library's APA research guide at .

In general, a research paper proposal should be 1 or 2 paragraphs summarizing what your paper is going to be about, why it is important to your profession, who it affects, the effect on society or a community, and what is being done about it. 

Cover these same main topic areas when writing an outline.  For examples of how to format an outline, go to .

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apa essay proposal format

How to Write a Research Proposal: Steps, Outline, Example, and More!

apa essay proposal format

A research proposal is a strategic tool for a world of uncharted discoveries. It is the entrance to the world of scientific inquiry, where the bounds of human knowledge are pushed, and new perspectives are unveiled. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of how to write a research proposal :

  • Pick a clear and focused topic. What specific question are you trying to answer?
  • Show its importance. Why is your research relevant to your field?
  • Research the gap. What do we already know? What are the knowledge gaps you'll address?
  • Plan your methods. How will you collect and analyze your data (surveys, interviews, experiments)?
  • Be realistic. Can you complete the research within your timeframe?
  • Cite your sources! Show you've reviewed existing research.
  • Keep it concise. Aim for a clear and focused document, typically 5-10 pages.

Definition of What Is a Research Proposal

Research proposals accomplished two things at once: 1) persuade the academics that the proposed study deserves funding and 2) lead the researcher on an exciting intellectual quest. 

The proposal combines a call to action, a request for financial support, and a mission statement. It's a creative work that unites the brilliance of creation with the powerful ability to persuade, opening up a whole new range of alternatives.

Research Proposal Purpose

Its main goal is to persuade a funding organization or other interested parties that the suggested project is worth the investment and that the scholar has the competence and assets necessary to complete it adequately.

The proposal has to be crystal clear, direct to the point, and persuasive, making a strong argument for the significance of the study, its future contribution, and the original strategy the scholar would employ. Each ambitious researcher should have a strong study proposal, which may lead to funding possibilities, team projects, and even brand-new insights.

We bet you'd fancy a guide on how to write a proposal for a research paper with detailed information and explaining steps required to complete your work successfully. Then, let's delve into the following sections right away!

Research Proposal Length 

The length of a research proposal can vary depending on several factors, but here's a quick guide:

  • Typical Range: 1,500 - 3,000 words (excluding references and appendices).
  • Ballpark Pages: 5-10 pages (assuming standard formatting).
  • Focus on Quality, Not Quantity: Aim for a concise and well-structured document that effectively conveys your research plan.
  • Check with your specific program or funding agency for any word or page limit requirements.

How to Write a Research Proposal Step-by-Step

There is no research proposal template that is universally applicable to all types of papers. However, no matter how extensive and in-depth your study is, you will discover that the majority of research paper proposal example templates contain the following information:

How to Write a Research Proposal Step-by-Step

Research Paper Title

So, how to start a research proposal? The logical answer is to first come up with a proper title. A well-written title can greatly increase the likelihood of a research article being read and referenced. For instance, a study titled 'The Effect of Media Platforms on Social Development: A Systematic Review' effectively communicates the study's focus while clarifying how it was conducted. The reader will find it simpler to comprehend the study's goal and any potential ramifications owing to the title's precision and informational nature.

An abstract provides a 150-300 word summary of a research paper and its primary objectives, methods, results, and conclusions. As it is frequently the first thing readers see and can influence whether they continue reading the complete article, the abstract is an important part of a research study. An effective abstract should summarize the paper's ideas, be simple to read, and emphasize the importance and possible influence of the work. It should give readers a thorough understanding of the paper's scope and purpose while piquing their interest in learning more.

If you're wondering how to write a research proposal context, remember that here you should provide your paper's structure and background information. Typically, you should discuss related literature reviews and any research gaps you'll explore throughout the study. It's also suggested that you stress the importance of undertaking the research and mentioning related theoretical and conceptual frameworks employed. Considering these, providing the context in your proposal is crucial since it helps your audience comprehend the study's relevance and how it fits into a broader perspective.

Research Question

The research question is the foundation of your proposal that shapes your study design and defines its main goal. It demonstrates your desire to learn more while furthering your academic career. Suppose you're writing a proposal about comparing the US and UK healthcare systems. In that case, you can come up with the following research question: 'How do low-income citizens with severe diseases do in terms of their physical well-being in the US and the UK?'

Research Method

In the research proposal, you should go into depth about how you conducted your study. Explain your key research tools and the techniques you employed to get your results. If you conducted interviews, tell the reader about the subjects of your questions. Lastly, provide your analysis of the results.

Research Significance

Afterward, you should describe the significance of your work. Every research proposal sample will briefly explain how your research is unique and contributes to the topic of study. You might wish to provide reasoning for the necessity of your study at this given moment. For example: 'The study's findings connect Psycho with other contemporary movies that share the same shock-factor traits. The startling aspect is more difficult to create today, as seen by the rise of low-budget, badly made horror movies that rely on shock rather than suspense to keep viewers' interest.'


Finally, you should compile a list of the articles and books most helpful to your research. You may need to do so according to the guidelines set forth by your instructor for research papers (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). You could also develop an annotated bibliography in which you explain how each resource aided your inquiry.

How to Create a Research Proposal Outline with a Research Proposal Template

Your outline format should look like the research proposal example provided above. Ensure you have a well-defined research topic and a clear plan for organizing your approach before starting the proposal writing process. Our history essay writer suggests that the following be included in your research proposal outline:

How to Write a Research Proposal outline

I. Introduction

  • Background information and context
  • Research problem statement
  • Research question(s) or hypothesis

II. Literature Review

  • Review of relevant literature
  • Identification of gaps in existing research
  • Explanation of how the proposed research will address those gaps

III. Methodology

  • Research design
  • Participants or population
  • Sampling method
  • Data collection methods
  • Data analysis methods

IV. Expected Results

  • Discussion of expected outcomes
  • Significance of expected outcomes

V. Timeline

  • Project timeline with major milestones
  • Itemized budget with justification for expenses

VII. Conclusion

  • Recap of the research problem and proposed solution
  • Potential contributions to the field of study

VIII. References

  • List of references cited in the proposal

outline research

This research paper outline should give you a clear idea of how to write a research proposal example effortlessly. Now, let our research proposal writing service tells out more about the formatting details.

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How to Format a Research Proposal Properly: APA Research Proposal

A research proposal format might be as short as a few paragraphs or as extensive as up to ten pages for dissertations. When unsure how to format a research proposal, first discuss details with your teacher, such as length, content, style, etc.

However, one of the most demanded styles is the APA research proposal format, which follows a specific format as given in the American Psychological Association guidelines. As it guides the project and helps guarantee that the study is thorough, ethical, and evidence-based, a research proposal example APA is usually generated before the study is conducted. 

Here is the general APA format:

  • 12-point font Times New Roman.
  • Double-spaced.
  • 1-inch margins.
  • An APA running head (limited to 50 characters).
  • A title page with the paper's title (no more than 12 words in length), your name, and the name of your institution.
  • An abstract (150-200 words).
  • In-text citations.
  • References page.

Effective Research Proposal Topics

Research proposals are the foundation of scholarly investigation. Therefore, thinking of fresh and distinctive research proposal ideas might be difficult. Due to this, our paper writers have supplied some excellent research proposal topics that will add excitement and enthusiasm to your academic endeavor:

  • Social Media and Teen Anxiety
  • E-Learning vs. Traditional Classrooms in STEM Fields
  • Bilingual Education and Math Performance
  • Music and Focus: Classical vs. Electronic
  • Subscription Boxes vs. Traditional Shopping
  • Meditation vs. Exercise for Stress Relief
  • Pocket Parks and Mental Health in Dense Cities
  • Mobile Games and Problem-Solving in Adults
  • AI and Automation in Healthcare
  • Leadership Styles in Family Businesses
  • Power Napping for Shift Workers
  • Blue Light Filters and Sleep Quality
  • Napping vs. Extended Sleep for Memory Consolidation
  • Language Learning Apps for Travelers
  • Light Pollution and Bird Migration Patterns
  • Solar Energy Adoption in Rural Communities
  • Social Media and Political Polarization
  • Parental Involvement and Standardized Test Scores
  • Volunteer Work and Social Responsibility in Young Adults
  • Mentorship Programs for Women in STEM

Research Proposal Example

Here is a research proposal example APA. Notice the structure of a short research paper (around 15 pages) and the APA formatting.

If you enjoyed our sample, feel free to drop us your ' write an essay for me ' request for any kind of assignment.

To wrap up, we hope our article assisted you in writing a research proposal. In addition to providing a thorough analysis of all the crucial elements of a research project, we provided guidance on how to write a research paper proposal that stands out.

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What Are the 5 Steps of Writing a Research Proposal?

What is a research proposal, what is the format of a research proposal.

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How to Write an Essay in APA Format

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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apa essay proposal format

What Is APA Format?

Apa essay format basics.

  • Steps to Follow

Frequently Asked Questions

If your instructor has asked you to write an APA format essay, it might at first seem like a daunting task, especially if you are accustomed to using another style such as MLA or Chicago. But you can master the rules of APA essay format, too.

An essay is one type of paper that can be written in APA format; others include lab reports, experimental reports, and case studies. Before you begin, familiarize yourself with some of the basic guidelines for writing a paper in APA format. Of course, it will also be important to follow any other formatting instructions that are part of your assignment.

How do you write an essay in APA format? The basic elements you need to include are:

  • A title page
  • An abstract
  • An introduction, main body, and conclusion
  • A reference section
  • Proper APA formatting with regard to margins, layout, spacing, titles, and indentations

This article discusses how to write an essay in APA format, including the basic steps you should follow and tips for how to get started.

Whether you’re taking an introductory or graduate-level psychology class, chances are strong that you will have to write at least one paper during the course of the semester. In almost every case, you will need to write your paper in APA format, the official publication style of the American Psychological Association . It is also used for academic journals.

Such rules are generally the same whether you are writing a high school essay, college essay, or professional essay for publication.

APA format is used in a range of disciplines including psychology , education, and other social sciences. The format dictates presentation elements of your paper including spacing, margins, and how the content is structured.

Most instructors and publication editors have strict guidelines when it comes to how your format your writing. Not only does adhering to APA format allow readers to know what to expect from your paper, but it also means that your work will not lose critical points over minor formatting errors. 

While the formatting requirements for your paper might vary depending on your instructor's directions, writing APA essay format means you will most likely need to include a title page, abstract, introduction, body, conclusion, and reference sections.

Your APA format essay should have a title page . This title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and your school affiliation. In some instances, your teacher might require additional information such as the course title, instructor name, and the date.

  • The title of your paper should be concise and clearly describe what your paper is about.
  • Your title can extend to two lines, but it should be no longer than 12 words.

An abstract is a brief summary of your paper that immediately follows the title page. It is not required for student papers, according to APA style. However, your instructor may request one.

If you include an abstract , it should be no more than 100 to 200 words, although this may vary depending upon the instructor requirements.

Your essay should also include a reference list with all of the sources that were cited in your essay,

  • The reference section is located at the end of your paper.
  • References should be listed alphabetically by the last name of the author.
  • References should be double-spaced.
  • Any source that is cited in your paper should be included in your reference section.

When writing in APA essay format, the text will include the actual essay itself: The introduction, body, and conclusion.

  • There should be uniform margins of at least one inch at the top, bottom, left, and right sides of your essay.
  • The text should be in Times New Roman size 12 font or another serif typeface that is easily readable.
  • Your paper should be double-spaced.
  • Every page should include a page number in the top right corner.
  • The first word of each paragraph in your paper should be indented one-half inch.

For professional papers (usually not student papers), every page of the essay also includes a running head at the top left. The running head is a shortened form of the title, often the first few words, and should be no more than 50 characters (including spaces).

Steps to a Successful APA Format Essay

In addition to ensuring that you cite your sources properly and present information according to the rules of APA style, there are a number of things you can do to make the writing process a little bit easier.

Choose a Topic

Start by choosing a good topic to write about. Ideally, you want to select a subject that is specific enough to let you fully research and explore the topic, but not so specific that you have a hard time finding sources of information.

If you choose something too specific, you may find yourself with not enough to write about. If you choose something too general, you might find yourself overwhelmed with information.

Research Your Topic

Start doing research as early as possible. Begin by looking at some basic books and articles on your topic to help develop it further. What is the question you are going to answer with your essay? What approach will you take to the topic?

Once you are more familiar with the subject, create a preliminary source list of potential books, articles, essays, and studies that you may end up using in your essay.

Remember, any source used in your essay must be included in your reference section. Conversely, any source listed in your references must be cited somewhere in the body of your paper.

Write Your Rough Draft

With research in hand, you are ready to begin. Some people like to create an outline to organize their argument prior to drafting. You may want to start with a very rough outline, and then add details.

Once you have a detailed outline, the next step is to translate it from notes to complete sentences and paragraphs. Remember, this is a first draft. It doesn't have to be perfect.

As you write your paper in APA essay format, be sure to keep careful track of the sources that you cite.

How do you start an APA paper? Your paper should begin with an introduction that includes a thesis statement that presents your main ideas, points, or arguments. Your introduction should start on the third page of your paper (after the title page and abstract). The title of your paper should be centered, bolded, and typed in title case at the top of the page.

Review and Revise

After you have prepared a rough draft of your essay, it's time to revise, review, and prepare your final draft. In addition to making sure that your writing is cohesive and supported by your sources, you should also check carefully for typos, grammar errors, and possible formatting mistakes.

When citing information or quotations taken from an interview, APA format requires that you cite the source, how the information was collected, and the date of the interview. They should not be included in the reference section, however, because they are not something that can be located by a reader in any published source or searchable database.

Instead, the information should be cited parenthetically in the main body of the text. For example: “There was an increase in the number of college students who screened positive for depression/anxiety” (R. Heathfield, personal communication, May 9, 2021).

If the essay is in a chapter of a book, edited collection, or anthology, APA format states that you should cite the last name, first name, title of essay, title of collection, publisher, year, and page range. For example: Smith, John, "The Light House," A Book of Poems , editing by Peter Roberts, Allworth Press, 2005, pp. 20-25.

According to APA format, a two-part essay is formatted the same as an essay, however, you'll need to create two title pages.

If you're including a short direct quote in your APA-format essay, you will need to cite the author, year of publication, and page number (p.) or page number span (pp.). Quotations longer than 40 words should omit the quotation marks and be put in the text using block quotation formatting, on its own line and indented 1/2 inch from the left margin.

The cover page or "title page" in APA essay format should always include the title of your paper, your name, and school affiliation as well as the course title, instructor name, and date, if requested by your teacher.

Nagda S.  How to write a scientific abstract.   J Indian Prosthodont Soc.  2013;13(3):382-383. doi:10.1007/s13191-013-0299-x

American Psychological Association.  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2019.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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Detailed Guide: APA Research Proposal Example 

Table of Contents

As a college student, essay assignments are the norm. But a research proposal may sound strange– especially if you are a newbie. If that’s the case, an APA research proposal example comes in handy. 

In this article, we’ll examine the features of a research proposal. And provide all the information you need to write your first.

What Is A Research Proposal?

A research proposal is a document that outlines the main idea of a research project . The proposal explains why the study needs to be done and how it will benefit society or improve knowledge in the field.

It delineates the methodology of the research you’ve conducted or are about to execute. 

What’s The Goal Of A Research Proposal?

A research proposal helps the writer explore a topic in greater detail. It provides an opportunity to identify and analyze relevant evidence, conclude, and offer potential solutions or recommendations. 

A research proposal also allows you to demonstrate knowledge of a specific field and create a well-rounded argument considering diverse perspectives. 

Sometimes, the purpose of a proposal is to secure funds to support your research. 

A research proposal presents a unique insight into a particular subject matter. And make a compelling case for its importance in advancing knowledge.

You should be able to prove that your work will:

  • Fill a knowledge gap on this topic or add to the existing knowledge on the subject
  • Emphasize existing information on the issue

It should also prove that you are capable of contributing meaningfully to the field of study. The best way to prove this is by stating your credentials and academic qualifications. Your study proposal also affirms the academic merit of your ideas. 

How Long Should A Proposal Be?

Frankly, the page count of a research proposal isn’t as important as the content it should entail. A master’s or bachelor’s research proposal may be a few pages long. But for a Ph.D. dissertation, it may be more as the research is often meatier.

Person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug

The purpose of a research proposal is to outline any content or element of your research. Don’t leave out details because you are targeting a word or page count.

The Structure Of A Research Proposal

An APA Research Proposal structure isn’t set in stone. But some elements are critical. They are as follows:

Research Paper Title

The research title should embody your paper’s content. While you can still change your title during the project, you must ensure your title explains the whole study in a few words. 

In just about 100 words, your abstract should state the question you intend to answer. 

Background Significance

This is where you’ll give a background introduction to your topic. It covers issues like why you decided to work on the research, existing debates, etc. 

You should also include the relevance of the question you aim to answer and its importance.

Finally, you must state the tool you plan to use while conducting your research. 

Literature Review

The literature review lists the sources you plan to rely on for your research and why you are working with those sources. 

Research Methods, Design And Schedule

This aspect of your research proposal covers the following topics. 

  • Identify if you are doing corrective, experimental, or descriptive research. 
  • State the kind of research you want to do. Is it quantitative or qualitative research? 
  • What tools will you use to curate data? Observation? Or will you conduct a survey? 
  • List all the data collection options available and why they are necessary. 

In addition, this aspect of the research proposal should also indicate:

  • Research budget
  • Any form of potential obstacles and how you will resolve them. 
  • The timeline of your research 


Like the name suggests, this section wraps up the research proposal. It summarizes research proposals and restates your purpose. 


Finally, list your sources or the works that contributed to your research. In this case, you need to follow the APA format. You can even annotate your bibliography, indicating how each source will contribute to your study. 

APA Research Proposal Format

Now, we’ll briefly analyze what the APA format should look like. 

  • 1-inch margins 
  • 12-point font Times New Roman
  • An APA running head (limited to 50 characters) 
  • Double-spaced
  • References page (following APA guidelines) 
  • In-text citations (formatted accordingly to APA guidelines) 
  • A title page containing your research title (12 words maximum), your name, and your institution name 
  • Abstract (150-200 words)

What To Avoid In APA Research Paper

Some factors can mar your research proposals. APA research papers should be written carefully, avoiding the following mistakes: 

1. Using overly technical language that can make it difficult for the reader to understand. 

2. Omitting any necessary facts or data may weaken the paper’s credibility and validity.

3. Failing to cite sources accurately could result in plagiarism.

4. Making assumptions without providing evidence to back them up.

5. Overlooking potential ethical issues related to a topic.

6. Ignoring grammar and spelling mistakes.

7. Not organizing ideas logically or presenting them in an unclear manner. 

8. Relying too heavily on one source of information when multiple perspectives are needed. 

9. Being overly opinionated instead of using objective analysis and reasoning.

APA Research Proposal Example

Emotional well-being and mental health research proposal , introduction.

I propose undertaking a research project into the effects of emotional well-being on mental health. This study investigates how emotional well-being affects one’s ability to cope with and manage mental health. This proposal will analyze current literature, examine personal experiences, and explore various theories. It seeks to gain an understanding of how emotional well-being influences mental health. 

Research Methodology

In terms of methodology, I plan to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research. Using these mediums, I will form conclusions regarding the correlation between emotional well-being and mental health. 

A survey will be administered online, followed by semi-structured interviews with participants who indicate that they are struggling with their mental health. Furthermore, I will conduct interviews with healthcare professionals. 

Personal stories and observations from my experience working with individuals with mental illness will also be incorporated into the data collection process. Additionally, information from relevant academic studies on this topic will be used to inform the interpretation of the results. 

The proposed research has theoretical and practical implications for understanding the complex relationship between emotion and mental health. 

Theoretically, it could lead to a greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying this relationship. It could also provide insight into the psychological underpinnings of mental illnesses like anxiety or depression. 

Moreover, the findings could suggest new strategies for helping those with poor mental health. It will provide them with improved access to support systems and resources. Finally, further exploration of this issue could result in policies geared towards improving emotional well-being implemented at governmental levels. 

I anticipate that this study will take approximately 6 months to complete, depending on the availability of interview subjects. 

If allowed to conduct this research, I am confident I can produce valid and reliable results. One that will contribute to our collective knowledge about the role of emotion in mental health.

Note: This is a skeletal APA research proposal example. This should only serve as a guide. You need to be as detailed as possible while writing yours. 

An APA research proposal example is a document that outlines the basic idea of a researcher’s project. 

When writing a research proposal using the APA style, it’s essential to follow the formatting rules the American Psychological Association laid out. This includes providing references in the correct format, such as author name, date, and page number. 

Worried about drafting an excellent research proposal? Take INK on a spin. Our proposal generator takes instructions and delivers a brilliant research proposal. 

Detailed Guide: APA Research Proposal Example 

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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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American Psychological Association

Paper Format

Consistency in the order, structure, and format of a paper allows readers to focus on a paper’s content rather than its presentation.

To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments.

The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create another kind of work (e.g., a website, conference poster, or PowerPoint presentation), you may need to format your work differently in order to optimize its presentation, for example, by using different line spacing and font sizes. Follow the guidelines of your institution or publisher to adapt APA Style formatting guidelines as needed.

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Academic Proposals

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This resource introduces the genre of academic proposals and provides strategies for developing effective graduate-level proposals across multiple contexts.


An important part of the work completed in academia is sharing our scholarship with others. Such communication takes place when we present at scholarly conferences, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and publish in books. This OWL resource addresses the steps in writing for a variety of academic proposals.

For samples of academic proposals, click here .

Important considerations for the writing process

First and foremost, you need to consider your future audience carefully in order to determine both how specific your topic can be and how much background information you need to provide in your proposal. While some conferences and journals may be subject-specific, most will require you to address an audience that does not conduct research on the same topics as you. Conference proposal reviewers are often drawn from professional organization members or other attendees, while journal proposals are typically reviewed by the editorial staff, so you need to ensure that your proposal is geared toward the knowledge base and expectations of whichever audience will read your work.

Along those lines, you might want to check whether you are basing your research on specific prior research and terminology that requires further explanation. As a rule, always phrase your proposal clearly and specifically, avoid over-the-top phrasing and jargon, but do not negate your own personal writing style in the process.

If you would like to add a quotation to your proposal, you are not required to provide a citation or footnote of the source, although it is generally preferred to mention the author’s name. Always put quotes in quotation marks and take care to limit yourself to at most one or two quotations in the entire proposal text. Furthermore, you should always proofread your proposal carefully and check whether you have integrated details, such as author’s name, the correct number of words, year of publication, etc. correctly.

Methodology is often a key factor in the evaluation of proposals for any academic genre — but most proposals have such a small word limit that writers find it difficult to adequately include methods while also discussing their argument, background for the study, results, and contributions to knowledge. It's important to make sure that you include some information about the methods used in your study, even if it's just a line or two; if your proposal isn't experimental in nature, this space should instead describe the theory, lens, or approach you are taking to arrive at your conclusions.

Reasons proposals fail/common pitfalls

There are common pitfalls that you might need to improve on for future proposals.

The proposal does not reflect your enthusiasm and persuasiveness, which usually goes hand in hand with hastily written, simply worded proposals. Generally, the better your research has been, the more familiar you are with the subject and the more smoothly your proposal will come together.

Similarly, proposing a topic that is too broad can harm your chances of being accepted to a conference. Be sure to have a clear focus in your proposal. Usually, this can be avoided by more advanced research to determine what has already been done, especially if the proposal is judged by an important scholar in the field. Check the names of keynote speakers and other attendees of note to avoid repeating known information or not focusing your proposal.

Your paper might simply have lacked the clear language that proposals should contain. On this linguistic level, your proposal might have sounded repetitious, have had boring wording, or simply displayed carelessness and a lack of proofreading, all of which can be remedied by more revisions. One key tactic for ensuring you have clear language in your proposal is signposting — you can pick up key phrases from the CFP, as well as use language that indicates different sections in academic work (as in IMRAD sections from the organization and structure page in this resource). This way, reviewers can easily follow your proposal and identify its relatedness to work in the field and the CFP.

Conference proposals

Conference proposals are a common genre in graduate school that invite several considerations for writing depending on the conference and requirements of the call for papers.

Beginning the process

Make sure you read the call for papers carefully to consider the deadline and orient your topic of presentation around the buzzwords and themes listed in the document. You should take special note of the deadline and submit prior to that date, as most conferences use online submission systems that will close on a deadline and will not accept further submissions.

If you have previously spoken on or submitted a proposal on the same topic, you should carefully adjust it specifically for this conference or even completely rewrite the proposal based on your changing and evolving research.

The topic you are proposing should be one that you can cover easily within a time frame of approximately fifteen to twenty minutes. You should stick to the required word limit of the conference call. The organizers have to read a large number of proposals, especially in the case of an international or interdisciplinary conference, and will appreciate your brevity.

Structure and components

Conference proposals differ widely across fields and even among individual conferences in a field. Some just request an abstract, which is written similarly to any other abstract you'd write for a journal article or other publication. Some may request abstracts or full papers that fit into pre-existing sessions created by conference organizers. Some request both an abstract and a further description or proposal, usually in cases where the abstract will be published in the conference program and the proposal helps organizers decide which papers they will accept. 

If the conference you are submitting to requires a proposal or description, there are some common elements you'll usually need to include. These are a statement of the problem or topic, a discussion of your approach to the problem/topic, a discussion of findings or expected findings, and a discussion of key takeaways or relevance to audience members. These elements are typically given in this order and loosely follow the IMRAD structure discussed in the organization and structure page in this resource. 

The proportional size of each of these elements in relation to one another tends to vary by the stage of your research and the relationship of your topic to the field of the conference. If your research is very early on, you may spend almost no time on findings, because you don't have them yet. Similarly, if your topic is a regular feature at conferences in your field, you may not need to spend as much time introducing it or explaining its relevance to the field; however, if you are working on a newer topic or bringing in a topic or problem from another discipline, you may need to spend slightly more space explaining it to reviewers. These decisions should usually be based on an analysis of your audience — what information can reviewers be reasonably expected to know, and what will you have to tell them?

Journal Proposals

Most of the time, when you submit an article to a journal for publication, you'll submit a finished manuscript which contains an abstract, the text of the article, the bibliography, any appendices, and author bios. These can be on any topic that relates to the journal's scope of interest, and they are accepted year-round.

Special issues , however, are planned issues of a journal that center around a specific theme, usually a "hot topic" in the field. The editor or guest editors for the special issue will often solicit proposals with a call for papers (CFP) first, accept a certain number of proposals for further development into article manuscripts, and then accept the final articles for the special issue from that smaller pool. Special issues are typically the only time when you will need to submit a proposal to write a journal article, rather than submitting a completed manuscript.

Journal proposals share many qualities with conference proposals: you need to write for your audience, convey the significance of your work, and condense the various sections of a full study into a small word or page limit. In general, the necessary components of a proposal include:

  • Problem or topic statement that defines the subject of your work (often includes research questions)
  • Background information (think literature review) that indicates the topic's importance in your field as well as indicates that your research adds something to the scholarship on this topic
  • Methodology and methods used in the study (and an indication of why these methods are the correct ones for your research questions)
  • Results or findings (which can be tentative or preliminary, if the study has not yet been completed)
  • Significance and implications of the study (what will readers learn? why should they care?)

This order is a common one because it loosely follows the IMRAD (introduction, methods, results and discussion) structure often used in academic writing; however, it is not the only possible structure or even always the best structure. You may need to move these elements around depending on the expectations in your field, the word or page limit, or the instructions given in the CFP.

Some of the unique considerations of journal proposals are:

  • The CFP may ask you for an abstract, a proposal, or both. If you need to write an abstract, look for more information on the abstract page. If you need to write both an abstract and a proposal, make sure to clarify for yourself what the difference is. Usually the proposal needs to include more information about the significance, methods, and/or background of the study than will fit in the abstract, but often the CFP itself will give you some instructions as to what information the editors are wanting in each piece of writing.
  • Journal special issue CFPs, like conference CFPs, often include a list of topics or questions that describe the scope of the special issue. These questions or topics are a good starting place for generating a proposal or tying in your research; ensuring that your work is a good fit for the special issue and articulating why that is in the proposal increases your chances of being accepted.
  • Special issues are not less valuable or important than regularly scheduled issues; therefore, your proposal needs to show that your work fits and could readily be accepted in any other issue of the journal. This means following some of the same practices you would if you were preparing to submit a manuscript to a journal: reading the journal's author submission guidelines; reading the last several years of the journal to understand the usual topics, organization, and methods; citing pieces from this journal and other closely related journals in your research.

Book Proposals

While the requirements are very similar to those of conference proposals, proposals for a book ought to address a few other issues.

General considerations

Since these proposals are of greater length, the publisher will require you to delve into greater detail as well—for instance, regarding the organization of the proposed book or article.

Publishers generally require a clear outline of the chapters you are proposing and an explication of their content, which can be several pages long in its entirety.

You will need to incorporate knowledge of relevant literature, use headings and sub-headings that you should not use in conference proposals. Be sure to know who wrote what about your topic and area of interest, even if you are proposing a less scholarly project.

Publishers prefer depth rather than width when it comes to your topic, so you should be as focused as possible and further outline your intended audience.

You should always include information regarding your proposed deadlines for the project and how you will execute this plan, especially in the sciences. Potential investors or publishers need to know that you have a clear and efficient plan to accomplish your proposed goals. Depending on the subject area, this information can also include a proposed budget, materials or machines required to execute this project, and information about its industrial application.

Pre-writing strategies

As John Boswell (cited in: Larsen, Michael. How to Write a Book Proposal. Writers Digest Books , 2004. p. 1) explains, “today fully 90 percent of all nonfiction books sold to trade publishers are acquired on the basis of a proposal alone.” Therefore, editors and agents generally do not accept completed manuscripts for publication, as these “cannot (be) put into the usual channels for making a sale”, since they “lack answers to questions of marketing, competition, and production.” (Lyon, Elizabeth. Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write . Perigee Trade, 2002. pp. 6-7.)

In contrast to conference or, to a lesser degree, chapter proposals, a book proposal introduces your qualifications for writing it and compares your work to what others have done or failed to address in the past.

As a result, you should test the idea with your networks and, if possible, acquire other people’s proposals that discuss similar issues or have a similar format before submitting your proposal. Prior to your submission, it is recommended that you write at least part of the manuscript in addition to checking the competition and reading all about the topic.

The following is a list of questions to ask yourself before committing to a book project, but should in no way deter you from taking on a challenging project (adapted from Lyon 27). Depending on your field of study, some of these might be more relevant to you than others, but nonetheless useful to reiterate and pose to yourself.

  • Do you have sufficient enthusiasm for a project that may span years?
  • Will publication of your book satisfy your long-term career goals?
  • Do you have enough material for such a long project and do you have the background knowledge and qualifications required for it?
  • Is your book idea better than or different from other books on the subject? Does the idea spark enthusiasm not just in yourself but others in your field, friends, or prospective readers?
  • Are you willing to acquire any lacking skills, such as, writing style, specific terminology and knowledge on that field for this project? Will it fit into your career and life at the time or will you not have the time to engage in such extensive research?

Essential elements of a book proposal

Your book proposal should include the following elements:

  • Your proposal requires the consideration of the timing and potential for sale as well as its potential for subsidiary rights.
  • It needs to include an outline of approximately one paragraph to one page of prose (Larsen 6) as well as one sample chapter to showcase the style and quality of your writing.
  • You should also include the resources you need for the completion of the book and a biographical statement (“About the Author”).
  • Your proposal must contain your credentials and expertise, preferably from previous publications on similar issues.
  • A book proposal also provides you with the opportunity to include information such as a mission statement, a foreword by another authority, or special features—for instance, humor, anecdotes, illustrations, sidebars, etc.
  • You must assess your ability to promote the book and know the market that you target in all its statistics.

The following proposal structure, as outlined by Peter E. Dunn for thesis and fellowship proposals, provides a useful guide to composing such a long proposal (Dunn, Peter E. “Proposal Writing.” Center for Instructional Excellence, Purdue University, 2007):

  • Literature Review
  • Identification of Problem
  • Statement of Objectives
  • Rationale and Significance
  • Methods and Timeline
  • Literature Cited

Most proposals for manuscripts range from thirty to fifty pages and, apart from the subject hook, book information (length, title, selling handle), markets for your book, and the section about the author, all the other sections are optional. Always anticipate and answer as many questions by editors as possible, however.

Finally, include the best chapter possible to represent your book's focus and style. Until an agent or editor advises you to do otherwise, follow your book proposal exactly without including something that you might not want to be part of the book or improvise on possible expected recommendations.

Publishers expect to acquire the book's primary rights, so that they can sell it in an adapted or condensed form as well. Mentioning any subsidiary rights, such as translation opportunities, performance and merchandising rights, or first-serial rights, will add to the editor's interest in buying your book. It is enticing to publishers to mention your manuscript's potential to turn into a series of books, although they might still hesitate to buy it right away—at least until the first one has been a successful endeavor.

The sample chapter

Since editors generally expect to see about one-tenth of a book, your sample chapter's length should reflect that in these building blocks of your book. The chapter should reflect your excitement and the freshness of the idea as well as surprise editors, but do not submit part of one or more chapters. Always send a chapter unless your credentials are impeccable due to prior publications on the subject. Do not repeat information in the sample chapter that will be covered by preceding or following ones, as the outline should be designed in such a way as to enable editors to understand the context already.

How to make your proposal stand out

Depending on the subject of your book, it is advisable to include illustrations that exemplify your vision of the book and can be included in the sample chapter. While these can make the book more expensive, it also increases the salability of the project. Further, you might consider including outstanding samples of your published work, such as clips from periodicals, if they are well-respected in the field. Thirdly, cover art can give your potential publisher a feel for your book and its marketability, especially if your topic is creative or related to the arts.

In addition, professionally formatting your materials will give you an edge over sloppy proposals. Proofread the materials carefully, use consistent and carefully organized fonts, spacing, etc., and submit your proposal without staples; rather, submit it in a neat portfolio that allows easy access and reassembling. However, check the submission guidelines first, as most proposals are submitted digitally. Finally, you should try to surprise editors and attract their attention. Your hook, however, should be imaginative but inexpensive (you do not want to bribe them, after all). Make sure your hook draws the editors to your book proposal immediately (Adapted from Larsen 154-60).


APA Citation Guidelines (7th Edition): Style & Format

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This page contains information on the style and format of papers according to APA 7th edition using the Concise Guide to APA Style: The Official APA Style for Students .

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  • APA Style and Grammar Guidelines

APA Style papers should have the same style and size of font throughout the text of the paper (title page to reference page). APA considers the following fonts acceptable: 11- point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or 10-point Computer Modern. It is recommended that you check with your instructor to see if they have a preferred font style.

(See section 1.18 of the Concise Guide to APA Style )

The first line of every paragraph in the text of your paper and every reference on your reference page is indented (hit the tab key once). The remaining lines are left flush with the left-hand margin of the paper (this is known as a "hanging indent").

Other Format Guidelines

Page numbers : Title page through reference pages are numbered using Arabic numerals;  place each number in the top right corner of the page.

Running heads: Are NOT required in student papers, but you should still check with your instructor to see if they wish them to be used.

Dashes: APA uses em dashes (long dash) and en dashes (short dash). See section 4.6 of the Concise Guide to APA Style for more information.

Additional Resources

  • Heading Levels: Template: Student Papers
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Lines and Margins

APA Style papers should have double-spaced text throughout the entire paper (including quotations and references). To make your paper double-spaced in Microsoft Word, highlight the text you want double-spaced, and then click Layout . Next, click on the arrow to the right of the word Paragraph (a pop-up appears). From the drop-down menu under Line Spacing , select Double (default choice is Multiple ) and click OK .

APA Style papers use 1 inch margins all around (top to bottom and left to right). Margins in Microsoft Word are set to 1 inch by default. If you are unsure, you can check your margins by clicking Layout, and clicking Margins. Once the drop-down menu appears, make sure Normal is selected to ensure you have 1 inch margins all around your paper.

(See sections 1.20 and 1.21 of the Concise Guide to APA Style )

APA Style recommends ONE space after a period when the period ends a sentence, separates parts of a reference list entry, or follows initials in names (J.B. Jones).

Do NOT put a space after a period when the period is part of an internal abbreviations (U.S. or a.m.)

Do NOT use periods for the abbreviation of state, province, or territory names (AZ; KS; BC); capital letter abbreviations and acronyms (APA, AMA, EPA); for abbreviations of academic degrees (PhD, MD, DO); or for abbreviations of metric and nonmetric measurements (cm, hr, kg,). Note: Use a period when abbreviating "inch" or "inches" (in.) or else it could be misread.

(See sections 4.1 and 4.2 of the Concise Guide to APA Style )

Sentence Case vs. Title Case

Sentence case is where most words in a sentence are going to be lower case.

The EXCEPTIONS are the first word in a title, heading, or sub-title ; proper nouns ; the first word after an em dash, semi-colon, or end punctuation; and any noun followed by a letter or number.

Title case is where major words are capitalized while minor words are lower case.

In APA style, major words are nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, adverbs, or any word that is four letters or longer.

Minor words are articles, short prepositions, and conjunctions that are three letters or less.

(See section 5.7 of the Concise Guide to APA Style )


Refers to restating someone else's ideas or findings into your own words. Paraphrasing allows you to summarize information from one or more sources, compare and contrast information from multiple sources, and focus on the most important information from each source.

It is BEST to paraphrase information whenever possible rather than using direct quotations.

Paraphrased information must be cited in-text with either a parenthetical or narrative citation.

(See sections 8.23 and 8.24 of the Concise Guide to APA Style)

Reproduce words EXACTLY as written from another work (including your own). Quotations are best used in papers for when you want to reproduce an exact definition, when an author of a work has said something memorable, or when you want to respond to the exact wording (something someone said) from an author in your paper.

When not using a quotation for one of the above reasons, it is best to paraphrase information. Additionally, you should check with your instructor to see if they limit the number of quotations you are allowed to use.

Quotations must be cited in-text with either a parenthetical or narrative citation.

Short quotations consist of 40 words or less and should be incorporated into the text of your paper with quotation marks.

Long quotations consists of 40 words or more and do not use quotations marks. Instead, they should be incorporated into your paper as a block quotation. Block quotations begin on a new line, are double-spaced, and are indented 0.5 inches from the left hand margin of your paper.

(See sections 8.25 - 8.33 of the Concise Guide to APA Style)

Heading Levels

Heading Levels or "headings" are a way to organize information in APA papers and convey it clearly ( think of headings as "sections" and "subsections"). There are five levels of headings in APA Style, although for undergraduates it is rare to need to go past a Level 2 headings. If you are unsure if you need to use headings, check with your instructor.

Level Headings
Levels Format Text
1 Text begins as a new paragraph.
2 Text begins as a new paragraph.
3 Text begins as a new paragraph.
4 Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.
5 Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.

Note: Do NOT label an introduction as "Introduction" in APA papers. The title of your paper acts as a de facto Level 1 Heading.

(See section 1.26 of the Concise Guide to APA Style)

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APA Headings and Subheadings | With Sample Paper

Published on November 7, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on October 24, 2022.

Headings and subheadings provide structure to a document. They signal what each section is about and allow for easy navigation of the document.

APA headings have five possible levels. Each heading level is formatted differently.

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Table of contents

Additional guidelines for apa headings, how many heading levels should you use, when to use which apa heading level, section labels vs headings, sample paper with apa headings, using heading styles in word or google docs.

As well as the heading styles, there are some other guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Double-space all text, including the headings.
  • Use the same font for headings and body text (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt.).
  • Don’t label headings with numbers or letters.
  • Don’t add extra “enters” above or below headings.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Depending on the length and complexity of your paper, you may not use all five heading levels. In fact, shorter student papers may have no headings at all.

It’s also perfectly fine for some sections in your paper to go as deep as five levels, where others use only heading level 1.

Heading level 1 is used for main sections like “ Methods ”, “ Results ”, and “ Discussion ”. There is no “ Introduction ” heading at the beginning of your paper because the first paragraphs are understood to be introductory.

Heading level 2 is used for subsections under level 1. For example, under “Methods” (level 1) you may have subsections for “Sampling Method” and “Data Analysis” (level 2). This continues all the way down to heading level 5.

Always use at least two subheadings or none at all. If there is just one subheading, the top-level heading is sufficient.

In addition to regular headings, APA works with “section labels” for specific parts of the paper. They’re similar to headings but are formatted differently. Section labels are placed on a separate line at the top of a new page in bold and centered.

Use section labels for the following sections in an APA formatted paper :

  • Author note
  • Paper title
  • Reference page

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apa essay proposal format

Instead of formatting every heading individually, you can use the “Styles” feature in Word or Google Docs. This allows you to save the styling and apply it with just a click.

The first time you use APA Style, you need to update the default heading styles to reflect the APA heading guidelines. Click here for the instructions for Microsoft Word and Google Docs .

An added benefit of using the “Styles” feature is that you can automatically generate a table of contents .

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MLA research proposal format: a guide to essentials

Understanding MLA research proposal format: a comprehensive guide


A historian and political analyst by training, Jay Brines offers six years of experience in academic writing. His in-depth understanding of political theories and historical contexts brings a rich perspective to his papers, making them a valuable resource for students in these fields. You can always count on this paper writer.

How to write a research paper MLA format? It's a common question among students and researchers who are preparing papers in the humanities. A research paper proposal outlines the objective, scope, and direction of your academic endeavor. Academic proposals are essential because they allow researchers to explain their study's purpose and request comments or financing. Formatting this text in MLA style follows humanities field standards and makes it organized and readable. This introduction to MLA style paper will explain why writing guidelines are essential for academic achievement and how they help you write a clear, professional, and convincing MLA research proposal format.

Coherent and well-structured proposals are crucial. They prepare the basis for the study and provide a clear path for it, ensuring all project issues are examined and adequately expressed. When drafting such proposals, it's beneficial to understand "What is MLA format?" as this style guide can help organize your documentation and citations effectively, ensuring clarity and consistency throughout the academic writing process. Using the right proposal structure helps you communicate your work's research significance and persuade others to do the study. This introductory section emphasizes the importance of MLA proposal formatting in academic writing and research preparation before diving into the details.

Mastering the essentials of MLA style for crafting research proposals

Modern Language Association (MLA) style is popular in language and literary writing. It's essential to familiarize yourself with the specific guidelines that govern this style. Understanding MLA rules helps research proposals sound professional and scholarly. MLA style paper format organizes proposals, making research aims obvious to reviewers and researchers. MLA proposal format, citations, and organization are crucial for academic legitimacy. The style basics will be covered in this part to help you write a solid MLA research proposal.

The crucial role of following MLA guidelines in writing

Following MLA formatting basics while writing an academic paper is essential to scholarly communication. These standards organize material simply and consistently, making the text easier to read. Researchers should follow MLA formatting principles to guarantee that their work is regarded seriously and evaluated on its merits rather than formatting problems.

Understanding and using MLA style paper format in a study proposal helps generate a professional tone and structure, which is crucial to convincing review panels of its viability and need. It shows attention to detail and adherence to "academic writing" norms, which are appreciated in scholarship. This section will explain MLA style paper format and how to use it to write a research proposal, covering citation styles and formatting a research paper.

Developing a compelling title and abstract

The title page for research proposal writings generally makes the initial impression. A brief title summarizes your study and engages readers. It should be concise, informative, and reflect your idea. Meanwhile, the abstract, much like you might find in a research proposal sample MLA format, condenses your study goals, methods, and consequences. Well-written abstracts instantly convey the scope and relevance of your study, inspiring additional investigation. Title and abstract efficiency can greatly affect study publicity and accessibility.

Crafting a compelling abstract: a quick guide for 100-200 words

Any study project needs an abstract writing to summarize its aims, methodologies, and implications. Effective abstract tips include beginning with a clear problem or purpose, a quick summary of the research methodology used, and a picture of the expected outcomes.

This section of the proposal frequently decides the reader's interest in reading the whole thing. It is the first substantive description of your work viewed by an external scholar, and a well-written abstract may greatly improve its reception. Thus, abstract writing is essential for researchers who want their proposal to stand out. Writing services can help you learn how to start a paper effectively, ensuring your abstract catches the reader's attention immediately. Moreover, services such as write my paper for me can provide guidance on structuring and refining your abstract, making it a powerful introduction to your proposal.

Strategies and insights for crafting engaging titles and abstracts

The title of your MLA research proposal format sets the tone and identifies the subject. A short, detailed, and informative title structure should convey the study's substance and entice the reader to learn more. A strong title quickly tells the reader about the study topic, which is vital in academic writing that prioritizes clarity and accuracy.

To write a good title and abstract, be clear when reading the research proposal example MLA and avoid unclear terminology. Additionally, connecting the title and abstract with the primary research challenges and approaches helps give a comprehensive preview of the proposal's content and persuasively argues for the research's necessity and relevance.

Organizing your research proposal: a strategic approach

Effectively communicating your research proposal sample MLA strategy requires a well-structured research proposal. This section helps you organize your proposal to include all important elements. Your study topic, technique, and projected results should flow together to make a cohesive paper. A logical MLA proposal format helps your proposal flow and emphasizes the importance and viability of your research idea.

Blueprint for organizing your proposal with defined sections

A well-organized proposal organization is crucial to a clear document. A well-organized proposal helps the reviewer identify crucial material and evaluate the study's feasibility and relevance. The parts should be organized from topic introduction to research methodology approaches, expected results implications, and conclusions.

The introduction proposal example, literature review, methodology, expected outcomes, and conclusion should be clearly divided. Each part should explain the research's goals, importance, and methodology and add to the proposal's narrative. This systematic technique helps deliver material effectively and shows the researcher's extensive planning and comprehension of the academic project's needs.

Guidelines for numbering and formatting subsections to enhance clarity and coherence

Effective structuring extends to the detailed organization of your content. Numbering and MLA formatting sub-sections enhance the readability and navigability of your proposal. Here are key practices to consider:

  • Consistent sub-section headings: Use uniform styles for headings and subheadings to maintain a coherent MLA structure.
  • Sequential numbering: Number sections and sub-sections in a sequential manner to guide the reader through your proposal.
  • Logical flow: Arrange sections in a logical order, starting with the introduction proposal example and proceeding through methods, results, and conclusions.
  • Visual distinction: Make use of bold or italicized fonts sparingly to emphasize important points without distracting from the main text.

Crafting the introduction and conducting the literature review

The beginning of your MLA research proposal example should set the stage for your investigation. It presents the study issue, emphasizes its relevance, and specifies your research goals. You must demonstrate your understanding of existing research and its relevance to your subject in the literature review after the introduction. This part places your research in the existing scholarly conversation and highlights gaps your study seeks to fill.

Advice for crafting a powerful introduction to frame your research

Introduction writing in a research proposal sample MLA includes background information, the research topic, and study goals. A good beginning sets the stage for the subject, engages the reader, and persuades them that it is important. The study scope and desired contributions to knowledge must be clearly defined.

A good introduction should flow into a Literature review that critically evaluates pertinent research. Literature review guidelines recommend that this part show a deep awareness of the academic environment around the research issue and identify gaps that the present study will fill.

Best practices for performing a literature review in MLA-style research proposals

When conducting a literature review for an MLA research proposal, consider the following MLA guidelines for essay projects:

  • Relevant sources: Focus on recent and pertinent literature to support your research context.
  • Citation consistency: Adhere strictly to MLA citation guidelines to maintain uniformity and avoid plagiarism.
  • Critical analysis: Evaluate and synthesize the literature; don't just summarize. Highlight debates, major themes, and gaps in the research.
  • Integration with proposal: Clearly link the literature review to your research questions and objectives, demonstrating its direct relevance.

Formulating the research methodology and anticipating outcomes

Define your research methodology by detailing data collection and analysis methods. The research design, data-collecting techniques, and analytic procedures should be clearly stated in this section to support the study's goals. Describe methodology limitations to honestly examine your approach's flaws and display critical thinking and problem-solving.

Outlining expected results predicts what the research seeks and what it may mean in the area. This indicates the study's direction, likely influence, and relevance. This section addresses research challenges to prepare the proposal for skepticism and scrutiny by showing that the researcher has examined and planned for probable hurdles.

A conclusion of your MLA research proposal is a conclusion summary of the article's main elements. This section revisits key topics like the structured approach to proposal development, MLA formatting, and strategic considerations for each section — from writing an impactful title to writing a clear and concise abstract. The conclusion summarizes these essential elements to help the reader comprehend the MLA structure and substance.

How should I format the title page in an MLA research proposal?

MLA research proposal does not need a title page; instead, write your name, instructor's name, course name, and date in the upper left corner of the first page and the title centered on the following line.

Can I use bullet points in an MLA research proposal?

Bullet points can assist in clarifying procedures or list topics in the methodology section, even though MLA style prioritizes paragraph form.

How do I cite sources within the proposal?

Use parenthetical citations with the author's last name and page number, and list all books cited at the conclusion of your proposal.


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    APA style: Structure of a Research Report/Proposal. Title page. Near the top of the Title page, type your title and press enter once. Normally, you would type your name next, but I want to grade your paper anonymously, so please leave this information blank. If you want, you can use Jane Doe, or Jeffrey Amherst, or any other moderately amusing ...

  18. APA Style

    When writing an APA-style paper, sometimes a sample paper is the best reference! OWL has a collection of sample papers to help guide you. ... APA Sample Papers. Annotated Bibliography. ... Proposal Argumentative Essay. Rhetorical Analysis Essay. Rogerian Argumentative Essay. Write | Read | Educators

  19. PDF APA 7th ed. (Student version) Sample Paper (Final)

    APA Citation Style: A Sample . m. Student's Name . Department's name, University of Hawai'i - West O'ahu . PSY 250: Social Psychology . Instructor's name . October 23, 2020 . This paper follows the Student version . of the 7th edition of the APA manual. Note that there is no Running head in the Student version of the 7th edition of the ...

  20. Paper format

    To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments. The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create ...

  21. PDF Research Proposal Example

    Type your abstract here within APA abstract limits (100-250 words) For a proposal, here, you will state the purpose of your study, the population you are studied, the sample you used, and your method: qualitative or quantitative, instrument (interview, survey, questionnaire, etc.) For a complete paper you would add your summarized findings.

  22. Academic Proposals

    An important part of the work completed in academia is sharing our scholarship with others. Such communication takes place when we present at scholarly conferences, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and publish in books. This OWL resource addresses the steps in writing for a variety of academic proposals. For samples of academic proposals ...

  23. LibGuides: APA Citation Guidelines (7th Edition): Style & Format

    APA Style papers should have the same style and size of font throughout the text of the paper (title page to reference page). APA considers the following fonts acceptable: 11- point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or 10-point Computer Modern. It is recommended that you check with your instructor to see if they have a preferred ...

  24. APA Headings and Subheadings

    Headings and subheadings provide structure to a document. They signal what each section. is about and allow for easy navigation of the document. APA headings have five possible levels. Each heading level is formatted differently. Note: Title case simply means that you should capitalize the first word, words with four or more letters, and all ...

  25. Research Paper Proposal: Linguistics and Hidden Meanings ...

    The final paper will be 8-10 pages, double spaced. Thesis Proposal Sample Content Preview: Research Paper Proposal: Linguistics and Hidden Meanings Surah Yusuf Student's Name Institutional Affiliation Research Paper Proposal: Linguistics and Hidden Meanings Surah Yusuf Background Surah Yusuf is among the most insightful ones when it comes to ...

  26. MLA research proposal format: a guide to essentials

    Our concise guide to the MLA proposal format will help you structure your academic proposals and ensure clarity and compliance in your research submissions. Call toll-free: +1 (888) 753-2581 ... MLA style paper format organizes proposals, making research aims obvious to reviewers and researchers. MLA proposal format, citations, and organization ...

  27. ¿Cómo incidir en la formación inicial en psicología ...

    Background: Secondary school teachers often face a teaching task for which they do not feel they have sufficient psychosociopedagogical preparation, because their initial training tends to focus on scientific content, and the Master's degree they have to complete is considered insufficient to meet their future challenges. Method: This paper presents the assessment of university postgraduate ...