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How to Format a Nursing Paper (APA Nursing Paper Example Included)

apa nursing paper example

One of the most popular writing help requests we get here at PaperHelp is formatting because it’s one of the most frustrating and complicated stages of working on an academic paper. There are several reasons for that, and our surveys back up my experience:

  • Formatting involves many minute details that are easy to miss, especially if you aren’t very experienced with this particular style
  • Students often leave formatting until the last moment and do it as an afterthought, underestimating how much time it can take
  • Different subjects require different styles, and this can be confusing, especially for a new student

As if to make it even more confusing, some classes require a different formatting style than that used in the overarching discipline or recommended by the school. I can see how the discovery that your paper that you’ve spent weeks writing and editing needs reformatting can be the last straw.

Yet it’s important to remember that formatting styles exist for a reason. Proper formatting helps you communicate clearly – this is a courtesy to your readers and a demonstration of your professionalism. This is true for every discipline but is especially important for fields like nursing, where there should be no room for misinterpretation. Today, we will look into ways of achieving this desirable straightforwardness and clarity within nursing with the help of APA style.

What Citation Styles are Used in Nursing?

Yet first, let’s clear the air on the various competing styles used in nursing. APA is popular, but not the only one. Here are just some of the widespread formatting and citation systems:

  • AMA (American Medical Association) is the standard for journals published by the American Medical Association and is often used for medical research papers.
  • APA (American Psychological Association) is one of the most widely accepted styles in academia, including medical studies, but is typically used for social sciences and education.
  • Vancouver is used for medicine and sciences and is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
  • Chicago is another widely-used style in physical and social sciences (with an author-date format) and humanities (with notes and bibliography variation).
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) is prevalent in humanities, especially in English studies and literary research.

In life sciences and medical research, journals often ask to format articles for submission in a specific style. The same is true for class papers in universities and colleges. Always make sure that you’ve consulted course guidelines and requirements of the particular periodical for which you write. That said, consistency is more important than choosing “the right” style. When in doubt, use a popular style like APA and stick with it.

How to Use APA in Nursing?

Nursing students use the American Psychological Association style frequently. This style favors clarity, objectivity, and sensitive language, helps readers easily locate the sources used in the paper, and gives authors of the cited research proper credit.

What should be included in the APA paper:

  • Title page
  • Abstract page (for longer papers)
  • Running head with page numbers
  • 1-inch margins on all sides
  • Double spacing for the entire paper
  • Text aligned to the left margin, leaving the right margin “ragged”
  • The first word of each new paragraph indented half an inch (a quick way to indent is to use the Tab key)
  • No extra blank lines between paragraphs
  • Text in a 12-point readable font: serif (Times New Roman, Courier, Georgia, etc.) or sans-serif (Arial, Calibri, Lucida, etc.)
  • Citations for all sources
  • References page ordered alphabetically by first author name

What should the title page include:

  • “Running head” in lower case followed by SHORTENED TITLE in capital letters
  • Page number in the upper right corner
  • Title of the paper centered, double-spaced, located on the upper half of the page
  • Your name (without credentials)
  • Institutional affiliation (the name of your college/university)
  • Course code and title (if required by the course instructions)
  • Year and month of paper submission (if required by the course instructions)

Directions on page numbers and running heads:

  • APA requires using a running head, which is the title of your paper located in the Header area, aligned left, half an inch from the top edge of the page
  • The running head should appear on each page of your paper, but the words “Running head:” appear only once, on the Title page
  • The maximum length of the running head is 50 characters, including punctuation and spaces, so if the title of your work is longer, you should use a shortened version
  • Number pages consecutively, starting with the Title page (page 1) and locating numbers in the top right corner of the page

APA rules for citations in the text of the paper:

  • Citations are mandatory for both direct quotations and paraphrasing
  • Paraphrasing means you convey the author’s ideas in your own words; you do not add any new ideas
  • In-text, there is a shortened author-date version (Last name, year)
  • When citing a source with two authors, join their last name with an ampersand (Doe & Roe, 2022)
  • When citing a source with three or more authors, list the first author followed by “et al.” (Smith et al., 2022)
  • Italicize book tiles, capitalizing only the first word of the title and subtitle and the proper nouns
  • Italicize journal titles and use title case (all important words are capitalized)
  • Write article titles in sentence case with no additional formatting
  • Italicize the names of webpages and websites using sentence case

APA rules for citations in the References:

  • References page contains complete information about each source
  • Invert author names, putting the last name first and using the initials for first and middle names: Doe, J. N.
  • Multiple authors up to 20 must all be listed with an ampersand (&) between the last two
  • For more than 20 authors, list the first 19, insert an ellipsis (…), and add the last author listed
  • For corporate authors, spell out the entire name of the organization: World Health Organization

Below is an example of a nursing paper formatted in APA following the guidelines presented here.

apa nursing paper example
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