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I teach a course in college writing. My students must learn to write papers for college following APA format.

I recall that, as a student, my instructors were never very consistent in their requirements for the format. For example, some instructors required a cover page if the paper exceeded 5 pages or so, but otherwise preferred a heading like this, even if they said they requested APA format:

<name>
<date>
<course>
<assignment>

I encountered other instructors who required a complete cover page, abstract, introduction, and conclusion, in 500 word essays.

Does APA have any special specification for shorter essays? If so, at what point is the paper short enough to do away with these extra parts?

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From an on-line search of APA style guides it appears that the APA style-guide is set up for research papers that would include a title page and abstract.

It appears though that most universities that I searched either had a defined page count before an abstract page was needed or said to check with the course instructor.

These are just a sample of some;

At this private college the exceptions from an abstract are where,

  • Smaller essays (3 pages or less)
  • Informal writings (in almost all instances, the paper will be 3 pages or less).
  • Papers over 3 pages in length that are formatted in APA style but do not contain a citation or reference.

At Western Oregon University they have two sample papers, one for a short paper (without abstract) and one for a formal paper (with abstract)

Lastly ,as an example, these two colleges Capital Community College and Empire State College state that the student should check if an abstract is needed.

Connecticut

Check with your instructor to see if an abstract and/or keywords are required elements of your paper.

Empire State

Be sure to ask your mentor whether or not s/he requires an abstract.

So while it appears that APA does not have any special short paper format it appears , from samples above, that institutions either have a formal policy or leave it to the discretion of the instructor.

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