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APA Formatting

How to format your assignment in APA style


Headings are important because they help you organize your ideas as well as guide your reader through your paper.


All headings use bolded text and title case.

Title Case

Title case refers to the way words are capitalized: 

  • Capitalize the first letter of the first word of the title.
  • Capitalize the first letter of the first word after a colon ( : ).  
  • Capitalize the first letter of all major words.
  • Capitalize the first letter of all words that have four or more letters.
  • Use lower case for minor words (articles, conjunctions, prepositions) that are less than three letters (e.g., a, an, the, and, or, for, by, etc.).

Heading Organization

The headings are organized in numerical order according to the way you divide your paper (see image below).

  • Level 1 headings are for the major sections, such as the Background, Results, and Conclusion.
  • Level 2 headings are used for subsections of major sections. For example, if you have two or more main topics in your Background section, you would use a Level 2 heading for each of these main topics.
  • Level 3 headings are used for subsections under Level 2 headings. If one of the Level 2 subsections has two or more main topic areas, you can use a Level 3 heading for each of these sections. 

Note: The title of your paper (as it appears on title page) should be place on the first line of your first page of content. Do not use a Level 1 Introduction heading. All readers will assume that the first paragraph in your paper is your introduction. See APA (2019a) pp. 47-49, sections 2.26 and 2.27.


Watch this 10-minute video for more information about APA headings.

Smart Student. (2020, November 22). Headings and subheadings tutorial: APA 7th edition format [Video]. YouTube.