Here is a quick guide for writing your final paper in Word and Latex.

Word: APA Template

If you want to use Word, we recommend starting with an APA template. You can get these from Ilias. However, now you’re going to spend a lot of time typing citations and writing your bibliography. Instead, why not try Latex?!?!

What is Latex?

Latex is a programming language for typesetting (making text look nice). It was originally designed by mathematicians to make it easier to create mathematics equations, but since then it has been adopted by scientists in every field of research. Latex does not come pre-installed on your computer. To use it, you need to either download the necessary files (from or use an online LaTeX editor.

Why should you use LaTeX instead of Word?

Imagine you’re just started taking a 2 hour long math test. 10 minutes into the test, the instructor hands a funny looking device to one student in the class. The student then starts pushing buttons on the device and writing what he sees on his paper. After another 10 minutes, the student is finished with a 2 hour exam, turns it in, and heads to the bar for happy hour. The rest of your struggle for the next two hours trying to remember how to use all those equations you spent all semester learning about.

Using LaTeX is like bringing a calculator to a math test. If you know how to use it, it can make things so much easier - so much easier it feels like cheating. When you know how to use LaTeX, you’ll won’t have to remember anything about APA formatting. LaTeX will take care of everything for you.

Latex does take some time to learn - mainly because it’s very different from using programs like Word that people are more used to. In LaTeX, instead of using menus to format your document, you’ll specify everything with commands that start with a backslash (\). It will take some time to learn at first, but once you do, you’ll laugh at all the other students frantically trying to remember how to write a citation in APA style. When you’re using LaTeX, citation and references are a breeze.

In the next few paragraphs I’ll explain the main commands you’ll be using. For further help, check out

Creating and editing LaTeX documents online

When you get started with LaTeX, it’s best to start using an online editor. When you get more comfortable with LaTeX, you can download all the necessary LaTeX files and an editor of your choice to your computer. For now, we’ll use Go to the website, create an account and log in.

Unlike Word, you won’t be starting new documents from a blank page. Instead, you’ll start with templates that set up the basics of the document for you. In sharelatex, we’ll use the APA template. TO get this, start a new project and select the Journal Article Template. Then, select the APA Template. This template contains the basics of an APA style document. Additionally, I have a slightly expanded template available at: Feel free to copy and paste from this document.

When you open the basic APA template this, you should see the following window(s) open.