Quick Answers—Formatting

Running head

The running head is a shortened title (no more than 50 characters, including spaces) that appears on every page. Use the automatic functions of your word-processing program to create a header that contains the running head and the page numbers for your paper. The header is located within, not below, the paper’s margin. There is no need to set the header at a specific distance from the top of the page. The words Running head: precede the running head on the title page only.

More information

Publication Manual (6th ed., section 2.01, p. 229; section 8.03, pp. 229–230)

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Margins

Set uniform margins of at least 1 in. (2.54 cm) on the top, bottom, left, and right of every page. Use your word-processing software to add a header that will appear at the top of every page that includes the running head and the page number. The header appears within the top margin, not below it.

More information

Publication Manual (6th ed., section 8.03, pp. 229–230)

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Heading levels

There are five levels of headings in APA Style. Proceed through the levels numerically, starting with Level 1, without skipping levels.

  • The number of headings needed for a paper will vary depending on the paper’s complexity and subject matter. Sections of similar importance have the same level of heading.

  • Don’t use “Introduction” as your first heading—it’s assumed that the beginning of the paper is the introduction.

  • Use boldface and/or italics only for headings within the body of your paper (as described for each level of heading in the Publication Manual).

  • Use regular font formatting (no boldface or italics) for all section titles, such as Abstract, Author Note, Title of Your Paper (on the title page and on the page where the text begins), References, Appendix/Appendices, and Footnotes. These are not headings but labels for these sections.

More information

Publication Manual (6th ed., sections 3.02–3.03, pp. 62–63)

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Lists

Lists, such as numbered lists and bulleted lists, may be used in APA Style.

Each item on the list is punctuated at the end by a comma, semicolon, or period, depending on the grammatical structure of the list. Numbers are followed by periods and are not in parentheses.

In running text, a series of items is designated by letters in parentheses: (a) first item, (b) second item, and (c) third item.

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Tables

Tables can help you present a large amount of material efficiently. Table layout needs to be logical and easy for readers to understand. Here are some guidelines on formatting your table.

  • Place each table on a separate page at the end of your manuscript, after the reference list.

  • If font size and style are not specified by the organization for which you are writing (e.g., publisher, university), the suggested font is 12-point Times New Roman.

  • Margins depend on the size of the table but must be at least 1 in. (2.54 cm).

  • Tables may use single-spacing or one-and-a-half spacing (p. 229).

  • Information necessary for understanding the table and definitions of abbreviations used within the table appear in a table note.

More information

Publication Manual (6th ed., sections 5.07–5.19, pp. 128–150; Table 5.1, p. 129, illustrates the basic components of a table; section 8.03, p. 228)

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Figures

Many types of figures can help you present data to the reader, including graphs, charts, maps, drawings, and photographs. A good figure is easy to read with elements large enough to be read easily. Here are some guidelines on creating your figure.

  • Place each figure on a separate page at the end of your manuscript, after any tables (or after the reference list, if there are no tables).

  • Place a caption below each figure describing its contents and defining any abbreviations used in the figure.

More information

Publication Manual (6th ed., sections 5.20–5.30, pp. 150–167; section 8.03, p. 230)

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Table of contents

Because the Publication Manual provides guidelines for writers submitting manuscripts to scholarly journals, it is silent on the topic of tables of contents. Usually questions about tables of contents come from students or teachers who want the information to complete a class assignment. Style preferences for undergraduate writing can vary by discipline, university, and instructor. Instructors should provide their preferred formatting guidelines if they require tables of contents; if guidelines are not included with the assignment or syllabus, students can request them.

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Title page

The title page includes five elements: title, running head, author, byline, institutional affiliation, and author note (which includes grant/funding information and a full correspondence address). The title page is numbered page 1.

Instructors who require other information on the title page should supply students with examples of their preferred format.

More information

Publication Manual (6th ed., sections 2.01–2.03, pp. 23–25; section 8.03, p. 229; see also sample papers, pp. 41–59, and supplemental material)

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Serial Comma

Use a comma between elements in a series of three or more items.

  • height, width, and depth

More information

Publication Manual (6th ed., section 4.03, pp. 88–89)

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Quotations

Material quoted directly from another source (i.e., reproduced word for word from works by other authors, your own previously published work, material replicated from a test item, and/or verbatim instructions to participants) must always provide the author, year, and specific page(s) in the text citation (for sources that don’t have page numbers, see the APA Style Blog post on citing a Kindle listed below) and include a complete entry in the reference list.

If the quotation includes fewer than 40 words, incorporate it in text and enclose it with double quotation marks. If the quotation includes more than 40 words, it should be treated as a block quotation, meaning that it is displayed in a freestanding block of text without quotation marks.

If material is paraphrased (i.e., restated in your own words), always provide the author and date in the in-text citation. It is not necessary to include the page number(s) in the citation, but it may be helpful, especially if the source is very long (e.g., a short passage from a whole book).

More information

Publication Manual (6th ed., section 4.08, p. 92; sections 6.03–6.10, pp. 170–174)

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