FORMATTING HEADINGS IN APA
An APA paper doesn’t always have to have sections, but if it does then each heading has to
follow a specific pattern. APA headings work like an outline, so an experienced reader can see
how your points relate to each other just by looking at your headings. There are five kinds of
headings: if you have only one level of heading in your paper, then you’ll use Level One
headings only. If you have sections and sub-sections but no sub-sub-sections, then you’ll use
Level One and Two headings only. Here’s how to format whatever headings you want to use:
Title of Paper
The first main page of your paper begins with your introductory paragraph. It does
not have an “Introduction” heading: the 6
edition American Psychological Association
(APA) manual says explicitly that “the first part of a manuscript is assumed to be the
introduction” (p. 63). However, some teachers do expect an “Introduction” heading, so
check your teacher’s preference! The title of the paper is centered at the top of the first real
page of your paper (even though it’s already on the title page), and it is not bolded (p. 42).
Level One Heading
If you have only one kind of heading in your paper (e.g. sections on Methods,
Results, and Conclusions), then you should use the centered Level One headings only (pp.
62-63). Yes, some people prefer to use left-justified Level Two headings for this purpose.
Yes, some teachers are fine with that. We’re just telling you what the manual says.
Level Two Heading
When one of your Level One sections has two or more subsections, you’ll use a
Level Two heading for each of them. Like Level One headings, they’ll be bolded and all
major words will be capitalized. The only words that won’t be capitalized, in fact, are
“conjunctions, articles, and prepositions” of three letters or less (APA, 2010, p. 101). The
manual doesn’t require that you put at least a single paragraph between any two different
levels of heading (see the sample paper on p. 44), but some teachers may want one.