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What does APA Formatting Include?

by Nancy Rosenbaum

Formatting involves more than just ensuring margins are properly set and paragraph indents are consistent. Most universities and some programs have unique standards that supersede those of APA, so while papers might follow strict APA rules, dissertations must follow the university guidelines as well as those established by APA. Some universities offer templates and guidelines; if there is a discrepancy between the guidelines and the template, the guidelines and not the template must be followed.

For example, do you know

1. if your paper or dissertation requires a running head?
2. the correct margin settings for your paper or dissertation?
3. if your page numbers should be put in the header or the footer?
4. if page numbers should be Roman or Arabic, and how to make changes between the two?
5. the correct line spacing for each section of the paper or dissertation?
6. where to position a table title and figure caption?
7. the components of each type of source listed in the References section?
8. when to include or exclude an issue number in a journal article listed in the References section?
9. when to include a “retrieved from” date for a source listed in the References section?
10. which cited sources to include in and exclude from your References or Bibliography section?
11. when to include or exclude a page number in a parenthetical citation?
12. how to create footnotes or endnotes?
13. if you should include no spaces, one space, or two spaces before or after various punctuation marks?
14. when to use italics or quotation marks?
15. when to boldface or italicize (or both!) a section/subsection heading?
16. how to create an automated table of contents, list of figures, and list of tables—and update these lists?
17. how to remove live links from URLs?
18. when and how to correctly use Latin phrases (e.g., et al., i.e.)?
19. which lines are required in tables and which lines should be excluded?
20. whether colors are appropriate in graphics?
21. how and where to introduce graphics and tables in text?
22. whether to use active or passive voice (and do you know the difference between the two)?
23. which tense(s) to use in your proposal and final dissertation?

If you are uncertain about the answers to these questions, trust an experienced formatter or editor to review and correct your dissertation for you.