Sample Dissertation Headings In APA Formatting Style: Basic Rules


APA (American Psychological Association) style is used to format research papers of different levels, including dissertations, within the social sciences. Each academic paper consists of different sections and subsections, and you should organize them properly in order to see which parts are equally significant, and which ones are subordinate. There are some basic rules on how to organize and name different dissertation sections in APA style.

  • Be consistent. Follow the order of your headings and do not skip any of them.
  • Use first level headings after the chapter titles of major dissertation parts. These parts are usually the following: literature review, methodology, results, discussion, etc. If you want to subdivide them, use the headings of corresponding levels to mark this division.
  • Remember that introduction is the only part of your paper that can never be divided into several sections.
  • Do not add any additional spaces between the body text and headings.
  • Do not use any letters or numbers to indicate headings of your paper. It is inappropriate for academic papers in APA style.
  • There are five levels of APA headings. Format all sections of your dissertation according to the sample below.

First Level

The first level is centered and bolded. The first letters of all words are capitalized (uppercase and lowercase formatted). The following text is on the next line that is indented.

Second Level

The second level is boldface and left-aligned. The first letters of all words are capitalized (uppercase and lowercase formatted). The following text is on the next line that is indented.

Third level. The third level is boldface and lower-case formatted, and there is a period in the end. It is indented and immediately followed by the body text.

Fourth level. The fourth level is boldface, italicized, and lower-case formatted. There is a period in the end. It is indented and immediately followed by the body text.

Fifth level. The fifth level is italicized and lower-case formatted. There is a period in the end. It is indented and immediately followed by the body text.

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