This post shows a visual of the standard APA heading styles in APA 6th edition and describes three common mistakes with heading styles and heading usage in general. The basic styles and three most common mistakes are as follows.
The Basic Styles
The figure below shows the basic heading styles for APA, 6th edition. Scroll down to the next page for examples of common mistakes with APA headings.
Exceptions to the Basic Styles
The examples above follow the 6th Edition of the APA Manual. If you are a student writing a research paper for a class and you are asked to follow APA style, you should follow the examples shown above.
If you are a professor or researcher writing an article for publication in a journal, these examples should work, but you should always check the journal’s website for specific editorial and format requirements. Some journals have preferred heading styles that differ from those shown above.
If you are a PhD or Master’s student writing your thesis or dissertation, your department or school might have specific guidelines that supersede the styles above. Many schools prefer specific variations on the font face, font style, alignment, line spacing, line length, and other issues. Check your school’s dissertation or thesis style guide.
Common Mistake 1
APA Does not allow for just one heading level of the same level, you must always have at least two headings at the same level (just like you shouldn’t have a “1” without a “2” or an “A” without a “B” in an outline). Example 1 shows this mistake. Example 2 shows how to correct it.
Common Mistake 2
In APA style, all words of four letters or more are capitalized in titles, headings, and table titles.
- Incorrect: Regression Analyses with All Variables
- Correct: Regression Analyses With All Variables
Common Mistake 3
In APA style, do not use the subheading “Introduction” to start off the paper or a new section. The idea is clear from the section’s position within the manuscript (APA 2.05, subsection “Introduce the Problem”).
Although the APA Publication Manual does not address final manuscripts, this same rule logically extends to theses and dissertations. That is, do not include the heading “Introduction” at the beginning of a chapter because it is clear to the reader that the introduction is the first section.