If your institution requires that you format your dissertation according to APA style, your APA manual is about to become an invaluable resource for you as you try to navigate an overwhelming number of style specifications. Keep in mind that your institution may also have its own template, style guide, or dissertation format document that you must adhere to in tandem with the APA manual. Consult both carefully to ensure that your dissertation is in compliance with your institution’s requirements.
General Dissertation Formatting per APA Style
Keep in mind the following overall formatting guidelines:
- Running head—Per APA style, every page must have a running head that is a shortened version of your title. The running head appears in all uppercase letters in the top left corner of the page. Additionally, your title page should have a running head that is slightly different from the rest of your dissertation. The first page’s running head is preceded by “Running head:” whereas the remaining pages just display the title. For example, if the title of your paper is The Changing Landscape of Defining Relationship Terms, your running head on your first page will be:
Running head: DEFINING RELATIONSHIP TERMS
The running head on all other pages will be:
DEFINING RELATIONSHIP TERMS
- Pagination—In addition to your running head, your top header will also include page numbers in the upper right-hand corner of each page. Allow for 5 spaces between the end of the running header and the page numbers. The page number is omitted from the title page. Most dissertations require all front matter to be numbered with Roman numerals. The first page of the actual body of your text will be numbered with standard Arabic numerals (1).
- Margins—Each margin should be 1 inch wide. Your institution may require a larger margin on the left-hand side for easier binding, so be sure to check with your university’s guidelines. All justification should be flush left (except your title page and headings, when applicable) and paragraph indentations should be one half inch from the margin.
- Font—Times New Roman is the preferred font for APA style. All fonts should be 12 point, except for within tables and figures where it may be reduced to 10 point.
APA style provides strict guidelines for organizing your front matter, in terms of both order and appearance. APA requires that your front matter will include the following pages in sequence:
- Title page—Enter your title in title case (upper and lowercase letters), centered. The title may span one to two lines. Beneath your title, enter your name, and beneath that, enter your university. All of this information should be located in the top half of the page and your entire title page should be double-spaced.
- Abstract—Your abstract will be on the page immediately following your title page. At the top of the page, enter “Abstract,” centered (not bolded, italicized, underlined, or with quotation marks). Begin your abstract below this, and be sure it fits on one page. Your abstract should be less than 250 words and not indented. If you wish to include keywords, enter them on the final line, indented, and beginning with an italicized “Keywords:”
- Dedication page—This page is optional and should be no more than one page. The word “Dedication” should appear at the top, centered, not bolded, with no quotation marks.
- Acknowledgements page—This page is also optional but very common. It should be no more than one page and “Acknowledgements” should appear at the top, centered, not bolded, with no quotation marks.
- Table of Contents—At the top of the page, enter “Table of Contents,” centered and not bolded, without quotation marks. All major headings, front matter, and back matter should appear in your table of contents. If you have tables and figures in your dissertation, include a “List of Tables,” on the page after your table of contents, and on the following page, include a “List of Figures.”
Body of Text
Your actual dissertation will begin on a new page. Per APA style, the title of your paper should appear again at the top, centered, not bolded (though this may be omitted if required by your institution).
Your entire document should be double spaced with certain allowable exceptions for tables. Follow APA’s rules for organizational headings: your top-level headings (most likely the chapters in your dissertation) are centered, bolded, and in title case. Second level headings are left-aligned, bolded, and in title case. Refer to your APA manual or the OWL Purdue website for more information on headings.
References and appendices will follow the conclusion of the body of your dissertation. Starting on a new page, begin your reference page with “References” (centered, not bolded, italicized, underlined, or in quotation marks). Organize your reference list alphabetically by author’s last name.
Your appendices will follow your reference list, if applicable. If you have only one appendix, title it “Appendix” (top of the page, centered, not bolded, or in quotation marks). If you have multiple appendices, label them alphabetically as “Appendix A,” “Appendix B,” “Appendix C,” and so on.
Need Help Formatting Your Dissertation per APA Style?
These are just a few basics to help you with formatting your paper or dissertation. Be sure to refer to your APA manual often while formatting your dissertation. If you need any help formatting your content per APA, please feel free to hire one of our APA experts to transform your document into perfect APA style. Please call or email us at any time for a free consultation and price quote.
Note: The following references are not per APA style, as HTML coding does not allow for this.
American Psychological Association (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J. Lawrick, E. Moore, K. Anderson, M. … & Keck, R. (2012, October 31). Reference list: Author/authors. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/06/
Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J. Lawrick, E. Moore, K. Anderson, M. … & Keck, R. (2013, March 1). Reference list: Basic rules. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/05/
Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J. Lawrick, E. Moore, K. Anderson, M. … & Keck, R. (2013, September 28). Reference list: Books. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/08/
Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J. Lawrick, E. Moore, K. Anderson, M. … & Keck, R. (2013, October 5). Reference list: Articles in periodicals. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/07/
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Your reference list is a crucial part of your dissertation or thesis as it allows your readers to locate and retrieve your cited sources. Your in-text citations and reference list must be consistent and the two should be easy to cross-reference. This article will review the basics of APA referencing style and provide some examples for easy reference.
The Basics of APA Style References
Unlike many other style manuals, the APA style reference list includes cited sources only and is not bibliographic. This means your reference list should only include sources that you cited within the body of your paper. Likewise, if you cite a source in your paper or dissertation, it must appear in your reference list.
The reference list should be at the end of your paper, starting on its own page. Begin the page with “References” centered at the top. Note that the word “References” should not be bolded, underlined, italicized, or placed in quotation marks.
Your references should be organized alphabetically by each author’s last name. Like the rest of your manuscript, it should be double-spaced. The first line of each reference list appears flush left, and the remaining lines of each entry are indented one-half inch from the margin.
One Author vs. Multiple Authors
In your APA reference list, the format of a reference entry depends on the number of authors of a given source.
Common Types of Sources
In addition to the number of authors, the type of source you are referencing also determines how you should format your entry. The most common types of sources include academic journal articles (which are often retrieved online), books, and individual chapters or articles within an edited book. Below are some examples of how to reference these common source types. Be careful to note the differences in how APA handles publication names, depending on whether your source is a book or a periodical.
Academic Journal Article (Periodicals) per APA Style
A journal may be paginated by volume and issue, or only by volume. If the journal does not assign issue numbers, you may simply use the volume number. Also, only the first word of the title of an article should be capitalized. If the title has two parts and uses a colon (:), capitalize the first word after the colon. The title of the journal should retain the journal’s preferred capitalization (hence, if the journal puts their journal title in all caps, you should, as well). The general format to follow for journal articles is as follows:
Note that per APA style, if your source has a DOInumber assigned to it, you must include it in your reference list. The DOI is a digital object identifier, which is a numeric or alpha-numeric string of characters that provide a unique link to the original source. While urls to a specific article may change over time, DOIs are regarded as stable and long lasting, making them the preferred method for linking digital resources. If your DOI appears as a url, simply paste the url into your reference list. If your DOI appears as only a string of numbers and letters, preface this with “doi: xxxx”.
When no DOI is available, but a conventional url is available for your source, you may replace the DOI with “Retrieved from” followed by the full url.
An example of an article paginated by both volume and issue, with a DOI available:
When citing a book, the title of the publication is italicized and only the first letter (and first letter following a colon) is capitalized. The location should always include the city and state abbreviation. The general format is as follows:
When citing a chapter or essay with its own individual author that appears in an edited book—that is, an editor or editors are listed on the cover, but each individual chapter is written by a different author—your in-text citation should always reflect the author of the chapter rather than the editor. The format for a chapter or essay in an edited book is as follows (note the different format for page numbers):
Additional APA Style Resources
The examples above, while common, are just a few of many different types of sources. You may also encounter website reports, interviews, magazine articles, dictionary entries, and many more. In addition to your APA 6th edition manual, Purdue University’s OWL APA guide is an excellent resource with instructions for formatting a wide variety of sources.
Additionally, finding the requisite information needed to have a complete reference entry can sometimes be challenging. Google Scholar can be a helpful resource for finding more information about your source to ensure that your reference entry is complete.
Need Help With APA Style References?
Even if you’re familiar with the basic tenets of APA style, formatting and editing your dissertation per APA can be tiresome and time-consuming. Let our professional team handle the APA style editing and formatting tasks for you, allowing you to focus on your research!