APA Headings

APA Headings

Most academic papers are written using the rules of either APA style (although MLA is also pretty popular). In the papers you write, you will have to use headings in different places. These, like the rest of your writing, need to be correctly formatted. Here’s how to make sure your paper is APA-compliant when it comes to headings.

What may seem confusing is that the style of headings you use will vary, depending on how many levels of headings your paper has. Huh? Yes, it’s a little confusing at first. Actually seeing it in action may help.

In most of your papers, you will be unlikely to ever have more than three levels of headings. In fact, it will be unusual if you have more than two, unless you’re doing graduate-level work. So, let’s look at what you should do if you have one, two, or three levels of headings.

One level:
If you don’t have any secondary or tertiary headings, all you have to do is to center your heading above the text. There should not be a space between it and the text, and it should not be formatted any differently. May students like to use bold or larger fonts for headings, but this is (according to the APA manual) not correct.

Two levels:
If you’re using two levels of headings, the first level will be the same as if you were only using one. For the second level, your heading will be left-aligned, italicized, and title case (i.e., the first letter of each word will be capitalized unless it’s a preposition or article).

Three levels:
The first two levels will be the same as above. For the third level, the words will be lowercase (except that the first word will be capitalized), it will be italicized, and it will be indented five spaces.

Again, remember that for academic work, you should not bold, different colors, or different fonts for your headings. Gotta play by the rules.