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APA Headings and Seriation
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Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style can be found here .
APA Style uses a unique headings system to separate and classify paper sections. Headings are used to help guide the reader through a document. The levels are organized by levels of subordination, and each section of the paper should start with the highest level of heading. There are 5 heading levels in APA. Regardless of the number of levels, always use the headings in order, beginning with level 1. The format of each level is illustrated below:
Thus, if the article has four sections, some of which have subsections and some of which don’t, use headings depending on the level of subordination. Section headings receive level one format. Subsections receive level two format. Subsections of subsections receive level three format. For example:
Method (Level 1)
Site of Study (Level 2)
Participant Population (Level 2)
Teachers (Level 3)
Students (Level 3)
Results (Level 1)
Spatial Ability (Level 2)
Test One (Level 3)
Teachers With Experience. (Level 4)
Teachers in Training. (Level 4)
Teaching Assistants . (Level 5)
Test Two (Level 3)
Kinesthetic Ability (Level 2)
In APA Style, the Introduction section never gets a heading and headings are not indicated by letters or numbers. For subsections in the beginning of a paper (introduction section), the first level of subsection will use Level 2 headings — the title of the paper counts as the Level 1 heading. Levels of headings will depend upon the length and organization of your paper. Regardless, always begin with level one headings and proceed to level two, etc.
Special headings called section labels are used for certain sections of a paper which always start on a new page.
- Paper title
- Appendix A (and so on for subsequent appendices)
These labels should be positioned on their own line at the top of the page where the section starts, in bold and centered.
APA also allows for seriation in the body text to help authors organize and present key ideas. For lists where a specific order or numbered procedure is necessary, use an Arabic numeral directly followed by a period, such as:
On the basis of four generations of usability testing on the Purdue OWL, the Purdue OWL Usability Team recommended the following:
- Move the navigation bar from the right to the left side of the OWL pages.
- Integrate branded graphics (the Writing Lab and OWL logos) into the text on the OWL homepage.
- Add a search box to every page of the OWL.
- Develop an OWL site map.
- Develop a three-tiered navigation system.
Numbered lists should contain full sentences or paragraphs rather than phrases. The first word after each number should be capitalized, as well as the first word in any following sentence; each sentence should end with a period or other punctuation.
For lists that do not communicate hierarchical order or chronology, use bullets:
In general, participants found the user-centered OWL mock up to be easier to use. What follows are samples of participants' responses:
- "This version is easier to use."
- "Version two seems better organized."
- "It took me a few minutes to learn how to use this version, but after that, I felt more comfortable with it."
Authors may also use seriation for paragraph length text.
For seriation within sentences, authors may use letters:
On the basis of research conducted by the usability team, OWL staff have completed (a) the OWL site map; (b) integrating graphics with text on the OWL homepage; (c) search boxes on all OWL pages except the orange OWL resources (that is pending; we do have a search page); (d) moving the navigation bar to the left side of pages on all OWL resources except in the orange area (that is pending); (e) piloting the first phase of the three-tiered navigation system, as illustrated in the new Engagement section.
Authors may also separate points with bullet lists:
On the basis of the research conducted by the usability team, OWL staff have completed
- the OWL site map;
- integrating graphics with text on the OWL homepage;
- search boxes on all OWL pages except the orange OWL resources (that is pending; we do have a search page);
- moving the navigation bar to the left side of pages on all OWL resources except in the orange area (that is pending);
- piloting the first phase of the three-tiered navigation system, as illustrated in the new Engagement section.
If your bulleted list is part of the sentence and is not preceded by a colon, treat the bullets like a part of the sentence, adhering to standard capitalization and punctuation. This option is helpful for complex or longer bulleted sentences that may be more difficult to read without the aid of punctuation. For items in a bulleted list that are phrases rather than sentences, no punctuation is necessary.
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APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.) | Generator, Template, Examples
Published on November 6, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on August 23, 2022.
The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual provides guidelines for clear communication , citing sources , and formatting documents. This article focuses on paper formatting.
Generate accurate APA citations with Scribbr
Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines:
- Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides.
- Double-space all text, including headings.
- Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches.
- Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.).
- Include a page number on every page.
Let an expert format your paper
Our APA formatting experts can help you to format your paper according to APA guidelines. They can help you with:
- Margins, line spacing, and indentation
- Font and headings
- Running head and page numbering
Table of contents
How to set up apa format (with template), apa alphabetization guidelines, apa format template [free download], page header, headings and subheadings, reference page, tables and figures, frequently asked questions about apa format.
References are ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name. If the author is unknown, order the reference entry by the first meaningful word of the title (ignoring articles: “the”, “a”, or “an”).
Why set up APA format from scratch if you can download Scribbr’s template for free?
Student papers and professional papers have slightly different guidelines regarding the title page, abstract, and running head. Our template is available in Word and Google Docs format for both versions.
- Student paper: Word | Google Docs
- Professional paper: Word | Google Docs
In an APA Style paper, every page has a page header. For student papers, the page header usually consists of just a page number in the page’s top-right corner. For professional papers intended for publication, it also includes a running head .
A running head is simply the paper’s title in all capital letters. It is left-aligned and can be up to 50 characters in length. Longer titles are abbreviated .
APA headings have five possible levels. Heading level 1 is used for main sections such as “ Methods ” or “ Results ”. Heading levels 2 to 5 are used for subheadings. Each heading level is formatted differently.
Want to know how many heading levels you should use, when to use which heading level, and how to set up heading styles in Word or Google Docs? Then check out our in-depth article on APA headings .
The title page is the first page of an APA Style paper. There are different guidelines for student and professional papers.
Both versions include the paper title and author’s name and affiliation. The student version includes the course number and name, instructor name, and due date of the assignment. The professional version includes an author note and running head .
For more information on writing a striking title, crediting multiple authors (with different affiliations), and writing the author note, check out our in-depth article on the APA title page .
The abstract is a 150–250 word summary of your paper. An abstract is usually required in professional papers, but it’s rare to include one in student papers (except for longer texts like theses and dissertations).
The abstract is placed on a separate page after the title page . At the top of the page, write the section label “Abstract” (bold and centered). The contents of the abstract appear directly under the label. Unlike regular paragraphs, the first line is not indented. Abstracts are usually written as a single paragraph without headings or blank lines.
Directly below the abstract, you may list three to five relevant keywords . On a new line, write the label “Keywords:” (italicized and indented), followed by the keywords in lowercase letters, separated by commas.
APA Style does not provide guidelines for formatting the table of contents . It’s also not a required paper element in either professional or student papers. If your instructor wants you to include a table of contents, it’s best to follow the general guidelines.
Place the table of contents on a separate page between the abstract and introduction. Write the section label “Contents” at the top (bold and centered), press “Enter” once, and list the important headings with corresponding page numbers.
The APA reference page is placed after the main body of your paper but before any appendices . Here you list all sources that you’ve cited in your paper (through APA in-text citations ). APA provides guidelines for formatting the references as well as the page itself.
Creating APA Style references
Play around with the Scribbr Citation Example Generator below to learn about the APA reference format of the most common source types or generate APA citations for free with Scribbr’s APA Citation Generator .
Formatting the reference page
Write the section label “References” at the top of a new page (bold and centered). Place the reference entries directly under the label in alphabetical order.
Finally, apply a hanging indent , meaning the first line of each reference is left-aligned, and all subsequent lines are indented 0.5 inches.
Tables and figures are presented in a similar format. They’re preceded by a number and title and followed by explanatory notes (if necessary).
Use bold styling for the word “Table” or “Figure” and the number, and place the title on a separate line directly below it (in italics and title case). Try to keep tables clean; don’t use any vertical lines, use as few horizontal lines as possible, and keep row and column labels concise.
Keep the design of figures as simple as possible. Include labels and a legend if needed, and only use color when necessary (not to make it look more appealing).
Check out our in-depth article about table and figure notes to learn when to use notes and how to format them.
The easiest way to set up APA format in Word is to download Scribbr’s free APA format template for student papers or professional papers.
Alternatively, you can watch Scribbr’s 5-minute step-by-step tutorial or check out our APA format guide with examples.
APA Style papers should be written in a font that is legible and widely accessible. For example:
- Times New Roman (12pt.)
- Arial (11pt.)
- Calibri (11pt.)
- Georgia (11pt.)
The same font and font size is used throughout the document, including the running head , page numbers, headings , and the reference page . Text in footnotes and figure images may be smaller and use single line spacing.
You need an APA in-text citation and reference entry . Each source type has its own format; for example, a webpage citation is different from a book citation .
Use Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator to generate flawless citations in seconds or take a look at our APA citation examples .
Yes, page numbers are included on all pages, including the title page , table of contents , and reference page . Page numbers should be right-aligned in the page header.
To insert page numbers in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, click ‘Insert’ and then ‘Page number’.
APA format is widely used by professionals, researchers, and students in the social and behavioral sciences, including fields like education, psychology, and business.
Be sure to check the guidelines of your university or the journal you want to be published in to double-check which style you should be using.
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Streefkerk, R. (2022, August 23). APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.) | Generator, Template, Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/format/
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APA Help (7th Edition)
- What is Plagiarism?
- What is Self-Plagiarism?
- Basics of APA (7th ed.)
- Running head
- Page Numbers
- Section Headings
- Five Levels of Headings in APA Style Format
- Headings Example
- Figures & Images
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- In-Text Citation Examples
- Reference Page Example
- Reference Citation Examples
- Citing with Missing Information
- More APA Resources
- Instructor Created Presentations
- Level Headings Format Table
This sample will give you an example of heading levels used in the body of the paper
The APA Style Blog offers a short sample paper describing level headings and how to properly use headings within a paper. Click this link to see the Heading Levels Template Student Paper
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A step-by-step guide for creating and formatting APA Style student papers
The start of the semester is the perfect time to learn how to create and format APA Style student papers. This article walks through the formatting steps needed to create an APA Style student paper, starting with a basic setup that applies to the entire paper (margins, font, line spacing, paragraph alignment and indentation, and page headers). It then covers formatting for the major sections of a student paper: the title page, the text, tables and figures, and the reference list. Finally, it concludes by describing how to organize student papers and ways to improve their quality and presentation.
The guidelines for student paper setup are described and shown using annotated diagrams in the Student Paper Setup Guide (PDF, 3.40MB) and the A Step-by-Step Guide to APA Style Student Papers webinar . Chapter 1 of the Concise Guide to APA Style and Chapter 2 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association describe the elements, format, and organization for student papers. Tables and figures are covered in Chapter 7 of both books. Information on paper format and tables and figures and a full sample student paper are also available on the APA Style website.
The guidelines for basic setup apply to the entire paper. Perform these steps when you first open your document, and then you do not have to worry about them again while writing your paper. Because these are general aspects of paper formatting, they apply to all APA Style papers, student or professional. Students should always check with their assigning instructor or institution for specific guidelines for their papers, which may be different than or in addition to APA Style guidelines.
Seventh edition APA Style was designed with modern word-processing programs in mind. Most default settings in programs such as Academic Writer, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs already comply with APA Style. This means that, for most paper elements, you do not have to make any changes to the default settings of your word-processing program. However, you may need to make a few adjustments before you begin writing.
Use 1-in. margins on all sides of the page (top, bottom, left, and right). This is usually how papers are automatically set.
Use a legible font. The default font of your word-processing program is acceptable. Many sans serif and serif fonts can be used in APA Style, including 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 12-point Times New Roman, and 11-point Georgia. You can also use other fonts described on the font page of the website.
Double-space the entire paper including the title page, block quotations, and the reference list. This is something you usually must set using the paragraph function of your word-processing program. But once you do, you will not have to change the spacing for the entirety of your paper–just double-space everything. Do not add blank lines before or after headings. Do not add extra spacing between paragraphs. For paper sections with different line spacing, see the line spacing page.
Paragraph alignment and indentation
Align all paragraphs of text in the body of your paper to the left margin. Leave the right margin ragged. Do not use full justification. Indent the first line of every paragraph of text 0.5-in. using the tab key or the paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program. For paper sections with different alignment and indentation, see the paragraph alignment and indentation page.
Put a page number in the top right of every page header , including the title page, starting with page number 1. Use the automatic page-numbering function of your word-processing program to insert the page number in the top right corner; do not type the page numbers manually. The page number is the same font and font size as the text of your paper. Student papers do not require a running head on any page, unless specifically requested by the instructor.
Title page setup
Title page elements.
APA Style has two title page formats: student and professional (for details, see title page setup ). Unless instructed otherwise, students should use the student title page format and include the following elements, in the order listed, on the title page:
- Paper title.
- Name of each author (also known as the byline).
- Affiliation for each author.
- Course number and name.
- Instructor name.
- Assignment due date.
- Page number 1 in the top right corner of the page header.
The format for the byline depends on whether the paper has one author, two authors, or three or more authors.
- When the paper has one author, write the name on its own line (e.g., Jasmine C. Hernandez).
- When the paper has two authors, write the names on the same line and separate them with the word “and” (e.g., Upton J. Wang and Natalia Dominguez).
- When the paper has three or more authors, separate the names with commas and include “and” before the final author’s name (e.g., Malia Mohamed, Jaylen T. Brown, and Nia L. Ball).
Students have an academic affiliation, which identities where they studied when the paper was written. Because students working together on a paper are usually in the same class, they will have one shared affiliation. The affiliation consists of the name of the department and the name of the college or university, separated by a comma (e.g., Department of Psychology, George Mason University). The department is that of the course to which the paper is being submitted, which may be different than the department of the student’s major. Do not include the location unless it is part of the institution’s name.
Write the course number and name and the instructor name as shown on institutional materials (e.g., the syllabus). The course number and name are often separated by a colon (e.g., PST-4510: History and Systems Psychology). Write the assignment due date in the month, date, and year format used in your country (e.g., Sept. 10, 2020).
Title page line spacing
Double-space the whole title page. Place the paper title three or four lines down from the top of the page. Add an extra double-spaced blank like between the paper title and the byline. Then, list the other title page elements on separate lines, without extra lines in between.
Title page alignment
Center all title page elements (except the right-aligned page number in the header).
Title page font
Write the title page using the same font and font size as the rest of your paper. Bold the paper title. Use standard font (i.e., no bold, no italics) for all other title page elements.
Repeat the paper title at the top of the first page of text. Begin the paper with an introduction to provide background on the topic, cite related studies, and contextualize the paper. Use descriptive headings to identify other sections as needed (e.g., Method, Results, Discussion for quantitative research papers). Sections and headings vary depending on the paper type and its complexity. Text can include tables and figures, block quotations, headings, and footnotes.
Text line spacing
Double-space all text, including headings and section labels, paragraphs of text, and block quotations.
Center the paper title on the first line of the text. Indent the first line of all paragraphs 0.5-in.
Left-align the text. Leave the right margin ragged.
Block quotation alignment
Indent the whole block quotation 0.5-in. from the left margin. Double-space the block quotation, the same as other body text. Find more information on the quotations page.
Use the same font throughout the entire paper. Write body text in standard (nonbold, nonitalic) font. Bold only headings and section labels. Use italics sparingly, for instance, to highlight a key term on first use (for more information, see the italics page).
For detailed guidance on formatting headings, including headings in the introduction of a paper, see the headings page and the headings in sample papers .
- Alignment: Center Level 1 headings. Left-align Level 2 and Level 3 headings. Indent Level 4 and Level 5 headings like a regular paragraph.
- Font: Boldface all headings. Also italicize Level 3 and Level 5 headings. Create heading styles using your word-processing program (built into AcademicWriter, available for Word via the sample papers on the APA Style website).
Tables and figures setup
Tables and figures are only included in student papers if needed for the assignment. Tables and figures share the same elements and layout. See the website for sample tables and sample figures .
Tables include the following four elements:
- Body (rows and columns)
- Note (optional if needed to explain elements in the table)
Figures include the following four elements:
- Image (chart, graph, etc.)
- Note (optional if needed to explain elements in the figure)
Table line spacing
Double-space the table number and title. Single-, 1.5-, or double-space the table body (adjust as needed for readability). Double-space the table note.
Figure line spacing
Double-space the figure number and title. The default settings for spacing in figure images is usually acceptable (but adjust the spacing as needed for readability). Double-space the figure note.
Left-align the table number and title. Center column headings. Left-align the table itself and left-align the leftmost (stub) column. Center data in the table body if it is short or left-align the data if it is long. Left-align the table note.
Left-align the figure number and title. Left-align the whole figure image. The default alignment of the program in which you created your figure is usually acceptable for axis titles and data labels. Left-align the figure note.
Bold the table number. Italicize the table title. Use the same font and font size in the table body as the text of your paper. Italicize the word “Note” at the start of the table note. Write the note in the same font and font size as the text of your paper.
Bold the figure number. Italicize the figure title. Use a sans serif font (e.g., Calibri, Arial) in the figure image in a size between 8 to 14 points. Italicize the word “Note” at the start of the figure note. Write the note in the same font and font size as the text of your paper.
Placement of tables and figures
There are two options for the placement of tables and figures in an APA Style paper. The first option is to place all tables and figures on separate pages after the reference list. The second option is to embed each table and figure within the text after its first callout. This guide describes options for the placement of tables and figures embedded in the text. If your instructor requires tables and figures to be placed at the end of the paper, see the table and figure guidelines and the sample professional paper .
Call out (mention) the table or figure in the text before embedding it (e.g., write “see Figure 1” or “Table 1 presents”). You can place the table or figure after the callout either at the bottom of the page, at the top of the next page, or by itself on the next page. Avoid placing tables and figures in the middle of the page.
Embedding at the bottom of the page
Include a callout to the table or figure in the text before that table or figure. Add a blank double-spaced line between the text and the table or figure at the bottom of the page.
Embedding at the top of the page
Include a callout to the table in the text on the previous page before that table or figure. The table or figure then appears at the top of the next page. Add a blank double-spaced line between the end of the table or figure and the text that follows.
Embedding on its own page
Embed long tables or large figures on their own page if needed. The text continues on the next page.
Reference list setup
Reference list elements.
The reference list consists of the “References” section label and the alphabetical list of references. View reference examples on the APA Style website. Consult Chapter 10 in both the Concise Guide and Publication Manual for even more examples.
Reference list line spacing
Start the reference list at the top of a new page after the text. Double-space the entire reference list (both within and between entries).
Reference list alignment
Center the “References” label. Apply a hanging indent of 0.5-in. to all reference list entries. Create the hanging indent using your word-processing program; do not manually hit the enter and tab keys.
Reference list font
Bold the “References” label at the top of the first page of references. Use italics within reference list entries on either the title (e.g., webpages, books, reports) or on the source (e.g., journal articles, edited book chapters).
Check page order.
- Start each section on a new page.
- Arrange pages in the following order:
- Title page (page 1).
- Text (starts on page 2).
- Reference list (starts on a new page after the text).
- Check that headings accurately reflect the content in each section.
- Start each main section with a Level 1 heading.
- Use Level 2 headings for subsections of the introduction.
- Use the same level of heading for sections of equal importance.
- Avoid having only one subsection within a section (have two or more, or none).
Check assignment instructions
- Remember that instructors’ guidelines supersede APA Style.
- Students should check their assignment guidelines or rubric for specific content to include in their papers and to make sure they are meeting assignment requirements.
Tips for better writing
- Ask for feedback on your paper from a classmate, writing center tutor, or instructor.
- Budget time to implement suggestions.
- Use spell-check and grammar-check to identify potential errors, and then manually check those flagged.
- Proofread the paper by reading it slowly and carefully aloud to yourself.
- Consult your university writing center if you need extra help.
About the author
APA 7: Sample Paper
- Paper Sections
- Quote & Paraphrase
- Format in Word
- In-Text Citations
- Reference List
- Sample Paper
Examples of the Different Paper Sections
- Title Page - APA 7 Example
- References Page
- Student Paper - Example in APA Format Includes title page, body, and references.
- Sample Annotated Student Paper in APA Style
- APA 7 Quick Reference Guide
Optional Paper Sections
- Headings - APA 7 Style Guide
- Accessible Use of Colors in APA 7
- Figures - APA 7 The basics of figure setup, including figure components, principles of figure construction, and placement of figures in a paper.
- Tables - APA 7 The basics of table setup, including table components, principles of table construction, and placement of tables in the paper.
- << Previous: Reference List
- Next: FAQs >>
MLA vs. APA: Citations and Format
MLA and APA are two different methods for styling an academic paper. Each has its own rules and guidelines for citing sources, formatting your pages, and usage (such as when to spell out numbers). Because each format is tied to different academic subjects, chances are you’ll have to use both at some point—which means you’ll need to learn the differences between them.
In this guide, we explain what exactly separates MLA and APA. We’ll talk about the differences between MLA and APA referencing styles, plus we’ll contrast their different approaches to formatting papers. We’ll also include some MLA and APA examples so you understand how to use either style.
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MLA vs. APA: What’s the difference?
MLA format and APA format are different sets of rules for how an academic paper should look. They both outline, with their own instructions, how to do things like cite sources, structure a paper, and format pages. They both also provide style guidelines, like instructions for which words to capitalize in titles, how to write authors’ names, or when to spell out numbers.
Typically, which format you use depends on the subject. MLA format is preferred for the humanities: languages, literature, philosophy, religion, ethics, and the arts, like film or painting. APA format is used by the social sciences: psychology, sociology, anthropology, education, and some business topics, along with engineering.
MLA vs. APA vs. Chicago
The MLA and APA formats, along with the Chicago format, make up the three main styles of academic writing. While they have a lot in common, each still has its own unique and particular rules for citations, grammar, and page formats.
It’s not so much about choosing your favorite; which style you use depends on the subject you’re writing about or the restrictions of your assignment. We already mentioned which subjects use MLA and APA above, while Chicago is the preferred style for history and historical topics.
Difference between MLA and APA referencing style
Even though there are numerous variations in formatting and grammar between the two styles, the biggest difference between MLA and APA is the referencing style. Each format has its own way of handling citations that includes both the big picture (like how to write the bibliography page) and the minutiae (like whether or not to include the year of publication in parenthetical citations ).
MLA vs. APA: In-text citations
Embedded directly “in the text,” in-text citations are succinct shout-outs to the source where you got your information. Unlike the full citations in the bibliography, in-text citations contain only the bare essentials and spare the details. The question is what to include in in-text citations; MLA and APA each have different criteria.
In MLA, in-text citations contain the author’s surname and the relevant page number , although the page number can be excluded if the information is broad. No commas or abbreviations for page are needed.
The Greek myth of Sisyphus provides the perfect analogy for humankind’s struggle of living with the absurdity of life (Camus 78) .
In APA, in-text citations contain the last name of the author, the year of publication, and the page number. Unlike in MLA, in APA the different pieces of information in parenthetical citations are separated by commas. Abbreviations are also used: p. for page and pp. for pages .
The researchers suggested that extroverts were less affected because they “have a strong sense of control over time,” so temporarily losing control didn’t matter much (Sobol et al., 2021, p. 455) .
Like in MLA, the page number can be omitted in APA if the information is broad; however, it must be included if you’re reciting a direct quote.
For both MLA and APA, you can replace the page number with another kind of location marker. If you’re citing a source that’s not a book, such as a documentary film or poem, you can use a different location marker, such as a timestamp or line number, instead of the page number.
To expedite the entire citation process, you can also use our free citation generator for both in-text and full citations. Simply upload all the source information, and our widget will create a perfect citation that you can just copy and paste into your paper.
MLA vs. APA: Bibliography
One of the biggest distinctions between MLA and APA is the bibliography page, where you list the full citations of all the sources used in the paper. MLA calls this page the works cited page , while APA refers to it as the reference page .
The rules for how to write a full citation are different based on both the format and the type of source. For example, the same source would be cited differently in MLA than in APA: The year of publication would be in a different place, and the author’s name would be written differently.
But even within the same format, different types of sources, like books and journal articles, have different formats for full citations. We have guides for how to cite each type of source in MLA, APA, and Chicago that you can check for quick reference—you can find a master list with all the links in the main guides for APA and MLA .
Just to give you an idea of how full citations are supposed to look in each format, below we’ve included APA and MLA examples for the book Thinking, Fast and Slow , which fits appropriately in both psychology and philosophy.
Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow . Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.
Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow . Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Notice the difference in how the author’s name is written. Both formats invert names, but MLA spells out the first name, while APA abbreviates it. Another big contrast is where the year of publication goes; MLA tacks it onto the end, whereas APA puts it at the beginning, after the author’s name, in parentheses. Last, the title of the book follows title capitalization in MLA, but it’s written in sentence capitalization in APA.
When formatting the bibliography page itself, both formats’ structures are actually pretty similar. Both MLA and APA follow these rules for their bibliographies:
- Entries are listed in alphabetical order by the last name of the author.
- The title is centered at the top of the page (for MLA the title is Works Cited ; for APA the title is References ).
- Entries all use a hanging indent: The first line is not indented, but all subsequent lines are indented by half an inch.
- The entire page is double-spaced.
However, don’t let the similarities fool you. There are plenty of tiny details in the citations themselves that can trip you up. Double-check with our guides to make sure you’re using the correct formula for your source in the format you’re following.
Here’s a tip: Grammarly’s Citation Generator ensures your essays have flawless citations and no plagiarism. Try it for tricky MLA and APA citations like images , movies , and YouTube videos .
MLA vs. APA: Style and paper format
Aside from citations, MLA and APA each have slightly different rules for grammar and paper formatting. Although subtle, these differences can be hard to keep track of, especially if you’re used to one style and must switch to another. So below, we cover the major differences between MLA and APA, all in one place for quick reference.
MLA vs. APA: Style
For starters, both MLA and APA suggest taking a formal tone for academic writing. Both advise against using contractions and casual language, like slang or colloquialisms . Other similarities include applying the title case for your paper’s headings and using the Oxford comma (the serial comma).
One big difference, though, is how each format handles numbers. APA has a fairly straightforward approach to numbers: Spell out zero through nine and use numerals for 10 and above.
MLA, however, has a more complicated system: Spell out numbers that can be written as one or two words but use numerals for all the others. So, in MLA, you would spell out one million but use numerals for 101 .
There are small exceptions to these rules in each format (which we explain in the main APA and MLA guides), such as using numerals with measurements or items in a series. One thing both formats agree on is to spell out numbers if they begin a sentence.
MLA vs. APA: Title page and paper format
APA format requires a title page with particular formatting, while in MLA the title page is optional.
An APA title page (for student papers) includes your school, the course number, instructor name, and assignment due date. In MLA this information is included in the heading of the first page, written flush left before the main text begins.
Another area of contrast between MLA and APA are footnotes and endnotes . While both styles prefer parenthetical in-text citations over footnotes and endnotes, each style has its own criteria for when to use notes. APA uses footnotes only for commentary and copyright attribution, whereas MLA allows them for citing multiple sources at once, noting editions or translations, or explaining unusual documentation practices, like the use of alternative line numbers when citing a poem.
Additionally, both APA and MLA have slightly different criteria for when to use block quotes. MLA requires a quotation to be set apart in block quotes if it is longer than four lines of text, whereas APA requires it for passages of forty words or more.
The actual format of the block quote is the same for MLA and APA: Indent the entire passage an additional half an inch, with no extra indentation for the first line. For any additional paragraphs beyond the first, indent the first line an additional half an inch.
But there are plenty of formatting similarities in the styles as well. Both MLA and APA use running heads, with the page number at the top of each page. Both formats prefer 8½-by-11-inch paper with 1-inch margins on all sides (disregarding the running head). Both recommend simple fonts like 10-to-12-point Times New Roman and Arial.
MLA and APA take practice
The differences between MLA and APA may seem daunting at first, especially when you’re unfamiliar with one or the other. However, once you get used to the rules, you’ll be able to apply them without thinking.
After all, the majority of your writing won’t fall into the problematic areas listed above—those are mostly special instances that occur only a handful of times in a paper. The real focus of your writing should be your content, regardless of whether you use MLA or APA.
APA Style 7th Edition: Citing Your Sources
- Basics of APA Formatting
- In Text Quick View
- Block Quotes
- Books & eBooks
- Conference Presentations
- Social Media
- Legal References
- Reports and Gray Literature
What are headings?
Levels of headings.
- Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
- Additional Resources
- Reference Page
Headings are used to effectively organize ideas within a study or manuscript. It can also highlight important items, themes or topics within sections. By creating concise headings, the reader can anticipate key points and track the development of your argument. The heading levels establish the hierarchy of each section and are designated by their formatting.
Adapted from American Psychological Association. (2009). Format for Five Levels of Heading in APA Journals. Publication manual of the American psychological association (6th ed., p. 62) Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
- If you need to use subsections in any given section, use a least two, otherwise omit their use.
- Do not label headings with numbers or letters
- Use of title case : Use of both upper and lower case letters, all major words are capitalized
- Paragraph headings are immediately followed by text for that subsection, rather than starting on a new line. The heading sits at the start of the first paragraph for that section.
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- Last Updated: Jan 4, 2023 2:35 PM
- URL: https://libguides.usc.edu/APA7th
APA 7 Headings
In APA format there are five levels of headings that create degrees of importance in relation to each other. Basically, they just function like a bulleted list, with each new level meaning you’re writing about a new subtopic of the previous level. So:
Their purpose is to create a sense of organization and flow within paper, and indicate how information connects throughout. For the average APA paper, you probably won’t use past level 2 headers in your paper, maybe level 3, but they become really helpful as you move into bigger papers with large amounts of information to cover. Note that topics equaling importance should maintain the same level of heading.
Level 1 header
Centered, bolded, capitalized like a book title
Level 1 Header
Text begins as a new paragraph.
Level 2 header
Left aligned, bolded, capitalized like a book title
Level 2 Header
Level 3 header
Left aligned, bolded, italicized, capitalized like a book title
Level 4 header
Indented once, bolded, capitalized like book title, ending with a period
Level 4 header. Text begins on the same line and continues as a e regular paragraph.
Level 5 header
Indented once, bolded Italic, capitalized like book title, ending with a period
Level 5 header. Text beings on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.
These headings can be used multiple times before moving forwards or backwards in the hierarchy. An example essay might look something like this:
Results (Level 1)
Nutrition Results (Level 2)
Nutrition in Infants (Level 3)
Nutrition in Adults. (Level 3)
Effect on Aging Process. (Level 4) Text...
Cell Deterioration Over Time. (Level 5) Text...
Sample paper with APA headings Using heading styles in Word or Google Docs Additional guidelines for APA headings As well as the heading styles, there are some other guidelines to keep in mind: Double-space all text, including the headings. Use the same font for headings and body text (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt.).
APA Headings and Seriation APA PowerPoint Slide Presentation APA Sample Paper Tables and Figures Abbreviations APA Classroom Poster Changes in the 7th Edition General APA FAQs APA Sample Paper Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019.
In APA Style, the Introduction section never gets a heading and headings are not indicated by letters or numbers. For subsections in the beginning of a paper (introduction section), the first level of subsection will use Level 2 headings — the title of the paper counts as the Level 1 heading.
Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines: Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides. Double-space all text, including headings. Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches. Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.). Include a page number on every page.
Headings identify the content within sections of a paper. Make your headings descriptive and concise. Headings that are well formatted and clearly worded aid both visual and nonvisual readers of all abilities. Levels of heading There are five levels of heading in APA Style.
to format each level of heading, Figure 2.4 demonstrates the use of headings in the introduction, and Figure 2.5 lists all the headings used in a sample paper in the correct format. In the Concise Guide to APA Style (7th ed.), this content is found in Table 1.3, Figure 1.3, and Figure 1.4, respectively. Level 5 Heading.
Subheadings are formatted flush left, boldface, uppercase and lowercase lettering. This sample will give you an example of heading levels used in the body of the paper The APA Style Blog offers a short sample paper describing level headings and how to properly use headings within a paper.
Left-align Level 2 and Level 3 headings. Indent Level 4 and Level 5 headings like a regular paragraph. Font: Boldface all headings. Also italicize Level 3 and Level 5 headings. Create heading styles using your word-processing program (built into AcademicWriter, available for Word via the sample papers on the APA Style website).
Optional Paper Sections. Headings - APA 7 Style Guide. Accessible Use of Colors in APA 7. Figures - APA 7. The basics of figure setup, including figure components, principles of figure construction, and placement of figures in a paper. Tables - APA 7.
APA heading format in details University The Pennsylvania State University Course Effective Writing: Writing In The Social Sciences Lewistown, Pa (ENGL 202A) Uploaded by Alleysha Nevarez Academic year2022/2023 Helpful? 00 Comments Please sign inor registerto post comments. Students also viewed
Both MLA and APA use running heads, with the page number at the top of each page. Both formats prefer 8½-by-11-inch paper with 1-inch margins on all sides (disregarding the running head). Both recommend simple fonts like 10-to-12-point Times New Roman and Arial.
Here is an example of what the APA headings would look like for a research report that uses all five levels: All five levels of headings (research report) Methods (Level 1) Research Participants (Level 2) Group A (Level 3) Content starts here. Demographics (Level 4) Age (Level 5) Content starts here. Gender (Level 5) Content starts here.
Headings: Use headings in your paper to distinguish between main sections and sub-sections. Format for the Five Levels of Headings in APA Style Level Format 1 Centered, Bold, Capitalize Major Words Text begins as a new indented paragraph. 2 Left Align, Bold, Capitalize Major Words Text begins as a new indented paragraph.
Headings are used to effectively organize ideas within a study or manuscript. It can also highlight important items, themes or topics within sections. By creating concise headings, the reader can anticipate key points and track the development of your argument.
APA 7 Headings. In APA format there are five levels of headings that create degrees of importance in relation to each other. Basically, they just function like a bulleted list, with each new level meaning you're writing about a new subtopic of the previous level. So: Their purpose is to create a sense of organization and flow within paper ...
SAMPLE APA PAPER 3 Abstract Begin your abstract at the left margin (section 2.04 on p. 27 of your APA manual; see also p. 229). This is the only paragraph that should not be indented.