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How to Prepare a Job Description in APA Format

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Preparing job descriptions isn’t simple, and trying to keep in line with a format such as APA only makes the process more difficult. APA format is developed by the American Psychological Association and is very similar to Harvard format. The format is generally used for scientific studies or academic papers, and many of the guidelines are more relevant to essay writing than to writing job descriptions. Learning about the APA format guidelines that could affect your job description can help ensure that your writing is compliant with APA format.

Use “Times New Roman” or another serif typeface for the body of the text. This is part of the APA style guidelines, and helps ensure professional-looking documents. Serif fonts have the appearance of classic Roman characters, and feature small decorative lips, unlike smoother, sans serif fonts.

Double space the entire job description. Text must be double-spaced to comply with APA style guidelines. This can be done easily on programs such as Microsoft Word by clicking on the “Page Layout” tab at the top of the screen, opening the “Paragraph” dialogue box and selecting “Double” from the “Line Spacing” drop down menu. Alternatively, you can add an empty line in between each line of text manually.

Indent any new paragraphs with a half-inch indent. This can be done on Microsoft Word by clicking the “Page Layout” tab at the top of the screen, and then setting the indent to 1.25 cm. Alternatively, you can press “Tab” at the beginning of the paragraph or tap in the relevant amount of individual spaces.

Ensure that the text is aligned to the left margin. This is how most word processing programs will be set automatically, so this shouldn’t require any formatting work. Leave the right hand side of the text “ragged,” which means that different lines finish at different points and are not aligned to the right margin.

Be specific where possible. APA format has been designed to provide a format for professional and scientific papers so the guidelines are clear with regards to specific wordings. For example, if you need to include an age range in your job description, don’t just put something like “Over 21-year-olds;” you have to specify the lowest and highest points of the range. Write something like “21-45-year-olds” instead of being non-specific, even if it seems slightly unnecessary.

Center your main heading. Ensure that you use a capital letter for each major word, and use bold type. Words that do not need to be capitalized in your titles are words like “the,” “and,” “but” and “in.” Generally, words shorter than four letters do not need to be capitalized unless they serve a relevant purpose, as opposed to merely being grammatical necessities.


Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.

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