Generate accurate APA citations for free
- Knowledge Base
- APA Style 7th edition
- APA headings and subheadings
APA Headings and Subheadings | With Sample Paper
Published on November 7, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on October 24, 2022.
Headings and subheadings provide structure to a document. They signal what each section is about and allow for easy navigation of the document.
APA headings have five possible levels. Each heading level is formatted differently.
Table of contents
Additional guidelines for apa headings, how many heading levels should you use, when to use which apa heading level, section labels vs headings, sample paper with apa headings, using heading styles in word or google docs.
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.).
- Don’t label headings with numbers or letters.
- Don’t add extra “enters” above or below headings.
Scribbr Citation Checker New
The AI-powered Citation Checker helps you avoid common mistakes such as:
- Missing commas and periods
- Incorrect usage of “et al.”
- Ampersands (&) in narrative citations
- Missing reference entries
Depending on the length and complexity of your paper, you may not use all five heading levels. In fact, shorter student papers may have no headings at all.
It’s also perfectly fine for some sections in your paper to go as deep as five levels, where others use only heading level 1.
Heading level 1 is used for main sections like “ Methods ”, “ Results ”, and “ Discussion ”. There is no “ Introduction ” heading at the beginning of your paper because the first paragraphs are understood to be introductory.
Heading level 2 is used for subsections under level 1. For example, under “Methods” (level 1) you may have subsections for “Sampling Method” and “Data Analysis” (level 2). This continues all the way down to heading level 5.
Always use at least two subheadings or none at all. If there is just one subheading, the top-level heading is sufficient.
In addition to regular headings, APA works with “section labels” for specific parts of the paper. They’re similar to headings but are formatted differently. Section labels are placed on a separate line at the top of a new page in bold and centered.
Use section labels for the following sections in an APA formatted paper :
- Author note
- Paper title
- Reference page
Are your APA in-text citations flawless?
The AI-powered APA Citation Checker points out every error, tells you exactly what’s wrong, and explains how to fix it. Say goodbye to losing marks on your assignment!
Instead of formatting every heading individually, you can use the “Styles” feature in Word or Google Docs. This allows you to save the styling and apply it with just a click.
The first time you use APA Style, you need to update the default heading styles to reflect the APA heading guidelines. Click here for the instructions for Microsoft Word and Google Docs .
An added benefit of using the “Styles” feature is that you can automatically generate a table of contents .
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
Streefkerk, R. (2022, October 24). APA Headings and Subheadings | With Sample Paper. Scribbr. Retrieved December 5, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/apa-headings/
Is this article helpful?
Other students also liked, apa title page (7th edition) | template for students & professionals, creating an apa style table of contents, apa format for academic papers and essays, scribbr apa citation checker.
An innovative new tool that checks your APA citations with AI software. Say goodbye to inaccurate citations!
The Plagiarism Checker Online For Your Academic Work
Start Plagiarism Check
Editing & Proofreading for Your Research Paper
Get it proofread now
Online Printing & Binding with Free Express Delivery
Configure binding now
- Academic essay overview
- The writing process
- Structuring academic essays
- Types of academic essays
- Academic writing overview
- Sentence structure
- Academic writing process
- Improving your academic writing
- Titles and headings
- APA style overview
- APA citation & referencing
- APA structure & sections
- Citation & referencing
- Structure and sections
- APA examples overview
- Commonly used citations
- Other examples
- British English vs. American English
- Chicago style overview
- Chicago citation & referencing
- Chicago structure & sections
- Chicago style examples
- Citing sources overview
- Citation format
- Citation examples
- College essay overview
- How to write a college essay
- Types of college essays
- Commonly confused words
- Dissertation overview
- Dissertation structure & sections
- Dissertation writing process
- Graduate school overview
- Application & admission
- Study abroad
- Master degree
- Harvard referencing overview
- Language rules overview
- Grammatical rules & structures
- Parts of speech
- Methodology overview
- Analyzing data
- Inductive vs. Deductive
- Qualitative vs. Quantitative
- Types of validity
- Types of reliability
- Sampling methods
- Theories & Concepts
- Types of research studies
- Types of variables
- MLA style overview
- MLA examples
- MLA citation & referencing
- MLA structure & sections
- Plagiarism overview
- Plagiarism checker
- Types of plagiarism
- Printing production overview
- Research bias overview
- Types of research bias
- Example sections
- Types of research papers
- Research process overview
- Problem statement
- Research proposal
- Research topic
- Statistics overview
- Levels of measurment
- Frequency distribution
- Measures of central tendency
- Measures of variability
- Hypothesis testing
- Parameters & test statistics
- Types of distributions
- Effect size
- Hypothesis testing assumptions
- Types of ANOVAs
- Types of chi-square
- Statistical data
- Statistical models
- Spelling mistakes
- Tips overview
- Academic writing tips
- Dissertation tips
- Sources tips
- Working with sources overview
- Evaluating sources
- Finding sources
- Including sources
- Types of sources
Your Step to Success
Plagiarism Check within 10min
Printing & Binding with 3D Live Preview
APA Running Head – Guide to the 7th Edition
How do you like this article cancel reply.
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
The APA style is a popular style that contains several rules, including a “running head.” Understanding the rules and updates about the APA running head is crucial for students and researchers alike, as it helps ensure that their papers meet the established standards of academic writing . Proper formatting is crucial for clear, consistent, and professional academic and scientific writing. So, let’s delve into the APA running head, which is explained in the APA 7th edition manual.
- 1 In a nutshell: APA running head
- 2 Definition: APA running head
- 3 APA running head example: Title page
- 4 APA running head example: Subsequent pages
- 5 APA formatting checklist
- 6 APA running head in Word and Google Docs
- 7 Abbreviating long titles for the running head
In a nutshell: APA running head
- The APA running head is a condensed form of the title of your paper that appears at the top of every page.
- According to the 7th edition of the APA style guide, it is mandatory to include a running head only in professional papers and not in student papers.
- Please ensure that the running head is positioned in the page header, aligned to the left, and written entirely in capital letters.
- If the title of the paper is longer than 50 characters, including spaces, the running head should be abbreviated.
- To properly format the running head in both Word and Google Docs, utilize the header function and double-check that alignment is correct.
Definition: APA running head
The APA running head is a shortened version of your paper’s title that appears at the top of each page. Its purpose is to aid readers in identifying the pages of your work in case they become misplaced, and to provide a quick reference to your paper’s title. In the 7th edition of the APA style guide, the running head is mandatory only for professional papers intended for publication, not for student papers.
APA running head example: Title page
The title page of a professional APA formatted paper should feature the running head, flush left, starting with the label “Running head:”, followed by a shortened version of your title in all capital letters.
APA running head example: Subsequent pages
On subsequent pages, the running head appears without the “Running head:” label, still in all capital letters and flush left. Below you can see an example.
APA formatting checklist
- Does your running head appear in the header, flush left, and in all caps?
- Does your running head include the label “Running head:” on the title page, and is this label absent from subsequent pages?
- If your paper’s title is over 50 characters, have you appropriately abbreviated it in your running head?
- Does the running head appear on every page of your paper?
APA running head in Word and Google Docs
Microsoft Word step-by-step
- “Insert” tab
- Select “Header”
- Choose “Edit Header”
- Type your running head, ensuring its flush left and in all caps.
Google Docs step-by-step
- Go to “Insert”
- Click “Header & Page Number”
- Select “Header” to begin formatting your running head
Abbreviating long titles for the running head
If your paper’s title exceeds 50 characters (including spaces), you’ll need to create an abbreviated version for your running head. This version should still capture the main idea of your paper, but do so in fewer characters.
The paper is titled:
- “Investigating the Potential Impacts of Prolonged Drought Conditions on Midwestern Agriculture”
It could be abbreviated in the APA running head to:
- “DROUGHT IMPACTS ON MIDWESTERN AGRICULTURE”
Is the APA running head still required in the 7th edition?
In the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual, the running head is only required for professional papers, not for student papers.
How can I format the APA running head in Word or Google Docs?
- Navigate to the “Insert” tab
- Then “Edit Header”
- Type your running head, ensuring it’s flush left and in all caps.
In Google Docs:
- Select “Insert”
- Then “Header & Page Number”
- Choose “Header”
How should I abbreviate a long title for the running head?
If your title exceeds 50 characters (including spaces), create an abbreviated version that still conveys the main idea of your paper.
- External Media
Individual Privacy Preferences
Here you will find an overview of all cookies used. You can give your consent to whole categories or display further information and select certain cookies.
Accept all Save
Essential cookies enable basic functions and are necessary for the proper function of the website.
Show Cookie Information Hide Cookie Information
Statistics cookies collect information anonymously. This information helps us to understand how our visitors use our website.
Content from video platforms and social media platforms is blocked by default. If External Media cookies are accepted, access to those contents no longer requires manual consent.
- West Coast University Libraries
- Research Guides
- Find Materials
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
- Placement of Tables and Figures
- In-Text Citation Examples
- Reference Page Example
- Reference Citation Examples
- Citing with Missing Information
- More APA Resources
- Instructor Created Presentations
- A Running head is only required on papers being submitted for publication, and is not required for student papers unless requested by an instructor
- The running head is a shortened version the paper's full title
- Contains 50 characters max (including spaces, letters, punctuation)
- Located on every page in the header
- UPPERCASE letters
- Example: ABBREVIATED TITLE
- << Previous: Title Page
- Next: Page Numbers >>
- Last Updated: Oct 10, 2023 4:50 PM
- URL: https://guides.westcoastuniversity.edu/apa
Student Consumer Information | BPPE Annual Report & Performance Fact Sheets | BPPE Website | Catalog | Careers With Us
West Coast University © 2023 All Rights Reserved
Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts
APA Headings and Seriation
Welcome to the Purdue OWL
This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.
Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.
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.