The Essential APA Outline

Outlining is a useful technique widely applied in academic writing. It stipulates making a plan for your writing, which may relate to a college paper, a piece of research, a lab report, or anything similar. The ability to make a good outline is a useful skill worth developing at a young age.

One of the most popular styles of outlining is the APA style. It is widely used in the academic world in disciplines like psychology and sociology. Check out our essential guide to outlining in the APA style to learn everything about this useful writing technique, to know where to seek help on this topic, and to enrich your overall writing experience!

APA outline examples of application

The APA (American Psychological Association) citation and referencing style is the style of choice for psychology and education fields. There are hundreds of colleges and prestigious universities in the USA, Canada, and Great Britain that adopted and constantly use this referencing style and relevant format in all their academic works.

Here are a few examples of when the APA outline template is used:

  • Research papers. In college and research institution paper writing, the APA style is used very often. The APA style provides a framework for organizing and structuring a research paper.
  • Presentations and posters. Academic conferences, educational events, and training – are all examples of common APA outlining applications. When preparing presentations and posters for these events, the APA style knowledge and skills become handy.
  • Journal and magazines. Preparing articles for journals and magazines, authors often resort to the APA style to organize and structure their thoughts.
  • High school and college classroom assignments. Students learn to apply APA style as early as conventional classroom assignments and homework tasks.
  • Thesis and dissertations are other common application examples of the APA outlining style.

APA outline format

When writing academic papers in the APA style, authors use principles of APA format to structure and organize plans, outlines, and lists, paying particular attention to the headings, subheadings, sentence, and paragraph structure.

It is important to note, though, that the APA referencing style does not explicitly regulate outlining. Nevertheless, the general APA principles of formatting can be perfectly applied to outlining in the academic and business domains. Below is a detailed guide on how to do an outline in APA style:

  1. Indentation format. Start each outline sentence with a relevant indent to emphasize its hierarchical order in the overall plan.
  2. Title format. The title of an outline in APA style should be placed in the center, and at the top of the page. In APA style, a title must always be used.
  3. Headings format. For the main headings of your outline, use Roman uppercase numerals, e.g., I, II, III, IV.
  4. Subheadings format. Use Capital letters for each subheading entry. The APA style prescribes using the following format for subheadings: A, B, C, D, etc.
  5. Additional headings format. Any lower-order subheadings must be presented in the Arabic numerals format, i.e., 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on.
  6. Punctuation and capitalization format. Each line of heading/subheading must start with a capital letter. Likewise, between each numeric or alphabetic entry use commas, followed by periods.

Now you know the general rules for how to write an APA outline. They are not too difficult to remember but may imply periodic alterations to the formatting and structuring rules as the APA guidelines are constantly changing to adapt to modern academic and business requirements.

Where to get help with APA style outline

If you feel like our guide is not enough for your specific needs, and it would be interesting for you to learn more, here are a few suggestions on where to get further information:

  • Professional writing agencies. Places like specialize in helping students and the public to do their excessive academic and private paperwork. They will quickly teach you how to do APA outline using process description toolkits, and commissioning expert writers on your specific task.
  • APA Publication Manual. This is the official guidebook of the American Psychological Association. You can always access it online via various resources and databases, or purchase a paper copy.
  • APA style website. The American Psychological Association maintains an official website with the most up-to-date rules and guidelines in its stylebook. Check it out regularly for the most recent updates, any APA outline sample, and the latest additions.
  • Tutoring Centers. Most American colleges and universities, as well as governmental research institutions, have writing and tutoring learning centers. Go check your immediate college if it has one.