APA Format Checklist

This document is meant to help you write the best paper you can by reminding you of common errors you can check for. Proofreading is often most effective if you print off the document
and then take a break from it before looking at it again, and even better if you can get someone else to look at it. Don’t forget you can always go to the Writing Centre for help, and most profs are willing to look at drafts if you have the paper done early enough.

To book an appointment for the writing center, visit

They can help you with any writing in any style, with the exception of final exams. There is no limit to how many times you go in a semester. If you have your paper done early enough, you can usually get the professor to review it for you as well.

You can create your own checklist of common errors you frequently make.


Cover Page

  • Does the top have a heading that reads “Running head: TITLE”?
  • Does it have a page number?
  • Is your name, the university and the date on the cover page?
  • Is the title centered and double spaced with no bolding, underlining, or italics?

Whole Paper

  • Are the margins set to “normal” (2.54cm on each side)?
  • Do you have page numbers?
  • Have you indented the beginning of every paragraph?
  • Did you use 12 pt, Times New Roman font?
  • Have you made it so there is only 1 space between paragraphs (you usually have to manually change this)?
  • Is it all double spaced?
  • Have you removed the “Running head” on page 2 and onward?

Reference Page

  • Does it have a page number on it?
  • Did you entitle it Reference?
  • Have you centered the word “Reference”?
  • Is the page double spaced, just like the rest of the document?
  • Are the second line of every entry(and every line following it) in a “hanging indent”? (link to explanation)
  • Are the entries alphabetized?

After you write:


  • Does your introduction lead into your thesis statement at the end of it?
  • Does your thesis statement make an argument?
  • Is your thesis statement at the end of your introduction?
  • Does every single sentence go towards proving the argument that you are trying to make?
  • Did you restate your thesis at the beginning of your conclusion?
  • Does your conclusion summarize the information you have presented (no surprises in the conclusion!)?


  • Do you have citations every time you need them, even when you’ve paraphrased?
  • Have you properly used block quotes for quotes over 40 words?
  • Do you have a comma between the name and date (Name, Year)?


  • Have you avoided contractions (don’t, won’t , can’t, didn’t)?
  • The first time you use an acronym, do you first spell it out in it’s entirety (ex. When using ADD, in the sentence say…” the student has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)…)
  • Have you used it’s/its properly? For more information click here
  • Have you used their/there properly? They're is a contraction and should not be used in university writing. For more information click here
  • Have you used “s” properly (for pluralizing or making possessives)?
  • Have you written out dates properly (1980s not 1980’s)?
  • Have you properly used who and whom? For more information click here
  • Have you used affect and effect properly? For more information click here

Word Choice

  • Have you avoided passive voice? For more information click here
  • Are your pronouns consistent?
  • Have you used “s” properly (for pluralizing or making possessives)?
  • Have you taken out redundant comparatives (most clearest, more bigger)?
  • When you use the word "I", has the prof has requested or approved it? If not, you may want to reword.

Your own common mistakes

If you need any help with your writing, the writing center is available to help students, for free, with any papers they want help with. The staff there can help you develop your writing skills in any format, as well as proofread.

The Writing Centre is located in Edmund Casey Hall, Room 102.

To make an appointment go to http://writingcentre.stu.ca/

Last modified: Wednesday, 27 February 2013, 1:42 PM