1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

APA Formatting for Headings and Subheadings


1 of 2

APA Headings and Subheadings
APA Formatting for Headings and Subheadings
Image by Grace Fleming

A paper that is written in American Psychological Association (APA) Style usually contains a number of sections. Research papers that are written for a classroom assignment may contain some or all of the following main sections:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Appendices

Your instructor will let you know if your paper should contain all of these sections. Obviously, papers that involve experiments will contain sections entitled Method and Results, but other papers may not.

The sections named above are considered major elements of your paper, so these sections should be treated as the highest level of headings. Major levels (highest level) titles in your APA title are centered on your paper. They should be formatted in boldface and the important words of the heading should be capitalized.

The title page is considered the first page of an APA paper. The second page will be the page containing an abstract. Again, the abstract is a main section, so the heading should be set in boldface and centered on your paper.

Note that the first line of an abstract is not indented.

Because the abstract is a summary and should be limited to a single paragraph, it should not contain any subsections. However, there are other sections of your paper that will contain subsections. You can create up to five levels of subsections with a hierarchy of subtitles, formatted in a specific way to show the descending levels of importance.

Levels of Headings

APA allows for five levels of headings. The most important sections (those listed above) are first-level headings.

Second-level headings are not centered. They are flush left, bold face, with important words capitalized. In other words, you format the second-level heading the same as the first-level, but you don't center it.

You can see an example of subheadings on the next page.

  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Homework / Study Tips
  4. Citations and Bibliography
  5. APA Style
  6. APA Formatting for Headings and Subheadings

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.