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13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the major components of a research paper written using American Psychological Association (APA) style.
  • Apply general APA style and formatting conventions in a research paper.

In this chapter, you will learn how to use APA style , the documentation and formatting style followed by the American Psychological Association, as well as MLA style , from the Modern Language Association. There are a few major formatting styles used in academic texts, including AMA, Chicago, and Turabian:

  • AMA (American Medical Association) for medicine, health, and biological sciences
  • APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the social sciences
  • Chicago—a common style used in everyday publications like magazines, newspapers, and books
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) for English, literature, arts, and humanities
  • Turabian—another common style designed for its universal application across all subjects and disciplines

While all the formatting and citation styles have their own use and applications, in this chapter we focus our attention on the two styles you are most likely to use in your academic studies: APA and MLA.

If you find that the rules of proper source documentation are difficult to keep straight, you are not alone. Writing a good research paper is, in and of itself, a major intellectual challenge. Having to follow detailed citation and formatting guidelines as well may seem like just one more task to add to an already-too-long list of requirements.

Following these guidelines, however, serves several important purposes. First, it signals to your readers that your paper should be taken seriously as a student’s contribution to a given academic or professional field; it is the literary equivalent of wearing a tailored suit to a job interview. Second, it shows that you respect other people’s work enough to give them proper credit for it. Finally, it helps your reader find additional materials if he or she wishes to learn more about your topic.

Furthermore, producing a letter-perfect APA-style paper need not be burdensome. Yes, it requires careful attention to detail. However, you can simplify the process if you keep these broad guidelines in mind:

  • Work ahead whenever you can. Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” includes tips for keeping track of your sources early in the research process, which will save time later on.
  • Get it right the first time. Apply APA guidelines as you write, so you will not have much to correct during the editing stage. Again, putting in a little extra time early on can save time later.
  • Use the resources available to you. In addition to the guidelines provided in this chapter, you may wish to consult the APA website at http://www.apa.org or the Purdue University Online Writing lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu , which regularly updates its online style guidelines.

General Formatting Guidelines

This chapter provides detailed guidelines for using the citation and formatting conventions developed by the American Psychological Association, or APA. Writers in disciplines as diverse as astrophysics, biology, psychology, and education follow APA style. The major components of a paper written in APA style are listed in the following box.

These are the major components of an APA-style paper:

Body, which includes the following:

  • Headings and, if necessary, subheadings to organize the content
  • In-text citations of research sources
  • References page

All these components must be saved in one document, not as separate documents.

The title page of your paper includes the following information:

  • Title of the paper
  • Author’s name
  • Name of the institution with which the author is affiliated
  • Header at the top of the page with the paper title (in capital letters) and the page number (If the title is lengthy, you may use a shortened form of it in the header.)

List the first three elements in the order given in the previous list, centered about one third of the way down from the top of the page. Use the headers and footers tool of your word-processing program to add the header, with the title text at the left and the page number in the upper-right corner. Your title page should look like the following example.

Beyond the Hype: Evaluating Low-Carb Diets cover page

The next page of your paper provides an abstract , or brief summary of your findings. An abstract does not need to be provided in every paper, but an abstract should be used in papers that include a hypothesis. A good abstract is concise—about one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty words—and is written in an objective, impersonal style. Your writing voice will not be as apparent here as in the body of your paper. When writing the abstract, take a just-the-facts approach, and summarize your research question and your findings in a few sentences.

In Chapter 12 “Writing a Research Paper” , you read a paper written by a student named Jorge, who researched the effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets. Read Jorge’s abstract. Note how it sums up the major ideas in his paper without going into excessive detail.

Beyond the Hype: Abstract

Write an abstract summarizing your paper. Briefly introduce the topic, state your findings, and sum up what conclusions you can draw from your research. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to make sure your abstract does not exceed one hundred fifty words.

Depending on your field of study, you may sometimes write research papers that present extensive primary research, such as your own experiment or survey. In your abstract, summarize your research question and your findings, and briefly indicate how your study relates to prior research in the field.

Margins, Pagination, and Headings

APA style requirements also address specific formatting concerns, such as margins, pagination, and heading styles, within the body of the paper. Review the following APA guidelines.

Use these general guidelines to format the paper:

  • Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch.
  • Use double-spaced text throughout your paper.
  • Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point).
  • Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section. Page numbers appear flush right within your header.
  • Section headings and subsection headings within the body of your paper use different types of formatting depending on the level of information you are presenting. Additional details from Jorge’s paper are provided.

Cover Page

Begin formatting the final draft of your paper according to APA guidelines. You may work with an existing document or set up a new document if you choose. Include the following:

  • Your title page
  • The abstract you created in Note 13.8 “Exercise 1”
  • Correct headers and page numbers for your title page and abstract

APA style uses section headings to organize information, making it easy for the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought and to know immediately what major topics are covered. Depending on the length and complexity of the paper, its major sections may also be divided into subsections, sub-subsections, and so on. These smaller sections, in turn, use different heading styles to indicate different levels of information. In essence, you are using headings to create a hierarchy of information.

The following heading styles used in APA formatting are listed in order of greatest to least importance:

  • Section headings use centered, boldface type. Headings use title case, with important words in the heading capitalized.
  • Subsection headings use left-aligned, boldface type. Headings use title case.
  • The third level uses left-aligned, indented, boldface type. Headings use a capital letter only for the first word, and they end in a period.
  • The fourth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are boldfaced and italicized.
  • The fifth level follows the same style used for the previous level, but the headings are italicized and not boldfaced.

Visually, the hierarchy of information is organized as indicated in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” .

Table 13.1 Section Headings

A college research paper may not use all the heading levels shown in Table 13.1 “Section Headings” , but you are likely to encounter them in academic journal articles that use APA style. For a brief paper, you may find that level 1 headings suffice. Longer or more complex papers may need level 2 headings or other lower-level headings to organize information clearly. Use your outline to craft your major section headings and determine whether any subtopics are substantial enough to require additional levels of headings.

Working with the document you developed in Note 13.11 “Exercise 2” , begin setting up the heading structure of the final draft of your research paper according to APA guidelines. Include your title and at least two to three major section headings, and follow the formatting guidelines provided above. If your major sections should be broken into subsections, add those headings as well. Use your outline to help you.

Because Jorge used only level 1 headings, his Exercise 3 would look like the following:

Citation Guidelines

In-text citations.

Throughout the body of your paper, include a citation whenever you quote or paraphrase material from your research sources. As you learned in Chapter 11 “Writing from Research: What Will I Learn?” , the purpose of citations is twofold: to give credit to others for their ideas and to allow your reader to follow up and learn more about the topic if desired. Your in-text citations provide basic information about your source; each source you cite will have a longer entry in the references section that provides more detailed information.

In-text citations must provide the name of the author or authors and the year the source was published. (When a given source does not list an individual author, you may provide the source title or the name of the organization that published the material instead.) When directly quoting a source, it is also required that you include the page number where the quote appears in your citation.

This information may be included within the sentence or in a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence, as in these examples.

Epstein (2010) points out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Here, the writer names the source author when introducing the quote and provides the publication date in parentheses after the author’s name. The page number appears in parentheses after the closing quotation marks and before the period that ends the sentence.

Addiction researchers caution that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (Epstein, 2010, p. 137).

Here, the writer provides a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence that includes the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number separated by commas. Again, the parenthetical citation is placed after the closing quotation marks and before the period at the end of the sentence.

As noted in the book Junk Food, Junk Science (Epstein, 2010, p. 137), “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive.”

Here, the writer chose to mention the source title in the sentence (an optional piece of information to include) and followed the title with a parenthetical citation. Note that the parenthetical citation is placed before the comma that signals the end of the introductory phrase.

David Epstein’s book Junk Food, Junk Science (2010) pointed out that “junk food cannot be considered addictive in the same way that we think of psychoactive drugs as addictive” (p. 137).

Another variation is to introduce the author and the source title in your sentence and include the publication date and page number in parentheses within the sentence or at the end of the sentence. As long as you have included the essential information, you can choose the option that works best for that particular sentence and source.

Citing a book with a single author is usually a straightforward task. Of course, your research may require that you cite many other types of sources, such as books or articles with more than one author or sources with no individual author listed. You may also need to cite sources available in both print and online and nonprint sources, such as websites and personal interviews. Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.2 “Citing and Referencing Techniques” and Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provide extensive guidelines for citing a variety of source types.

Writing at Work

APA is just one of several different styles with its own guidelines for documentation, formatting, and language usage. Depending on your field of interest, you may be exposed to additional styles, such as the following:

  • MLA style. Determined by the Modern Languages Association and used for papers in literature, languages, and other disciplines in the humanities.
  • Chicago style. Outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style and sometimes used for papers in the humanities and the sciences; many professional organizations use this style for publications as well.
  • Associated Press (AP) style. Used by professional journalists.

References List

The brief citations included in the body of your paper correspond to the more detailed citations provided at the end of the paper in the references section. In-text citations provide basic information—the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number if necessary—while the references section provides more extensive bibliographical information. Again, this information allows your reader to follow up on the sources you cited and do additional reading about the topic if desired.

The specific format of entries in the list of references varies slightly for different source types, but the entries generally include the following information:

  • The name(s) of the author(s) or institution that wrote the source
  • The year of publication and, where applicable, the exact date of publication
  • The full title of the source
  • For books, the city of publication
  • For articles or essays, the name of the periodical or book in which the article or essay appears
  • For magazine and journal articles, the volume number, issue number, and pages where the article appears
  • For sources on the web, the URL where the source is located

The references page is double spaced and lists entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. If an entry continues for more than one line, the second line and each subsequent line are indented five spaces. Review the following example. ( Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting” , Section 13.3 “Creating a References Section” provides extensive guidelines for formatting reference entries for different types of sources.)

References Section

In APA style, book and article titles are formatted in sentence case, not title case. Sentence case means that only the first word is capitalized, along with any proper nouns.

Key Takeaways

  • Following proper citation and formatting guidelines helps writers ensure that their work will be taken seriously, give proper credit to other authors for their work, and provide valuable information to readers.
  • Working ahead and taking care to cite sources correctly the first time are ways writers can save time during the editing stage of writing a research paper.
  • APA papers usually include an abstract that concisely summarizes the paper.
  • APA papers use a specific headings structure to provide a clear hierarchy of information.
  • In APA papers, in-text citations usually include the name(s) of the author(s) and the year of publication.
  • In-text citations correspond to entries in the references section, which provide detailed bibliographical information about a source.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Formatting Research Paper Headings and Subheadings

research paper with headings example

Different style guides have different rules regarding the formatting of headings and subheadings in a paper, but what information you should actually put into your subheadings is a different question and often up to personal taste. Here we quickly summarize general guidelines, different approaches, and what not to do when choosing headings for a research paper.

Does it matter how I name my sections and subsections?

The main sections of a research paper have general headers and are often journal-specific, but some (e.g., the methods and discussion section) can really benefit from subsections with clear and informative headers. The things to keep in mind are thus the general style your paper is supposed to follow (e.g., APA, MLA), the specific guidelines the journal you want to submit to lists in their author instructions , and your personal style (e.g., how much information you want the reader to get from just reading your subsection headers). 

Table of Contents:

  • Style Guides: Rules on Headings and Subheadings
  • What Sections and Subsections Do You Need? 
  • How Should You Name Your Sections and Subsections?
  • Avoid These Common Mistakes

research paper headings

Style Guides: Research Paper Heading and Subheading Format

Headers identify the content within the different sections of your paper and should be as descriptive and concise as possible. That is why the main sections of research articles always have the same or very similar headers ( Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion ), with no or only small differences between journals. However, you also need to divide the content of some of these sections (e.g., the method section) into smaller subsections (e.g., Participants, Experimental Design, and Statistical Analysis ), and make sure you follow specific journal formatting styles when doing so. 

If the journal you submit to follows APA style , for example, you are allowed to use up to five levels of headings, depending on the length of your paper, the complexity of your work, and your personal preference. To clearly indicate how each subsection fits into the rest of the text, every header level has a different format – but note that headers are usually not numbered because the different formatting already reflects the text hierarchy.

APA style headings example structure

Level 1 Centered, Bold, Title Case

Text begins as a new paragraph.

Level 2 Left-aligned, Bold, Title Case

Level 3 Left-aligned, Bold Italic, Title Case

Level 4     Indented, Bold, Title Case, Period . Text begins on the same                    

                                 line and continues as a regular paragraph.

Level 5     Indented, Bold Italic, Title Case, Period. Text begins on the                           

                                 same line and continues as a regular paragraph.

If you only need one section header (e.g. Methods ) and one level of subsection headers (e.g., Participants, Experimental Design, and Statistical Analysis ), use Level 1 and Level 2 headers. If you need three levels of headings, use Levels 1, 2, and 3 (and so on). Do not skip levels or combine them in a different way. 

If you write a paper in Chicago style or MLA style , then you don’t need to follow such exact rules for headings and subheadings. Your structure just has to be consistent with the general formatting guidelines of both styles (12-pts Times New Roman font, double-spaced text, 0.5-inch indentation for every new paragraph) and consistent throughout your paper. Make sure the different formatting levels indicate a hierarchy (e.g., boldface for level 1 and italics for level 2, or a larger font size for level 1 and smaller font size for level 2). The main specifics regarding Chicago and MLA headings and subheadings are that they should be written in title case (major words capitalized, most minor words lowercase) and not end in a period. Both styles allow you, however, to number your sections and subsections, for example with an Arabic number and a period, followed by a space and then the section name. 

MLA paper headings example structure

1. Introduction

2. Material and Methods

2.1 Subject Recruitment

2.2 Experimental Procedure

2.3 Statistical Analysis

3.1 Experiment 1

3.2 Experiment 2

4. Discussion

5. Conclusion

What research paper headings do you need?

Your paper obviously needs to contain the main sections ( Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and maybe Conclusion ) and you need to make sure that you name them according to the target journal style (have a look at the author guidelines if you are unsure what the journal style is). The differences between journals are subtle, but some want you to combine the results and discussion sections, for example, while others don’t want you to have a separate conclusion section. You also need to check whether the target journal has specific rules on subsections (or no subsections) within these main sections. The introduction section should usually not be subdivided (but some journals do not mind), while the method section, for example, always needs to have clear subsections.

How to Name Your Sections and Subsections

The method section subheadings should be short and descriptive, but how you subdivide this section depends on the structure you choose to present your work – which can be chronological (e.g., Experiment 1, Experiment 2 ) or follow your main topics (e.g., Visual Experiment, Behavioral Experiment, Questionnaire ). Have a look at this article on how to write the methods for a research paper if you need input on what the best structure for your work is. The method subheadings should only be keywords that tell the reader what information is following, not summaries or conclusions. That means that “ Subject Recruitment ” is a good methods section subheading, but “ Subjects Were Screened Using Questionnaires ” is not.  

The subheadings for the result section should then follow the general structure of your method section, but here you can choose what information you want to put in every subheading. Some authors keep it simple and just subdivide their result section into experiments or measures like the method section, but others use the headings to summarize their findings so that the reader is prepared for the details that follow. You could, for example, simply name your subsections “ Anxiety Levels ” and “ Social Behavior ,” if those are the measures you studied and explained in the method section. 

Or, you could provide the reader with a glimpse into the results of the analyses you are going to describe, and instead name these subsections “ Anxiety-Like Behaviors in Mutant Mice ” and “ Normal Social Behaviors in Mutant Mice .” While keeping headings short and simple is always a good idea, such mini-summaries can make your result section much clearer and easier to follow. Just make sure that the target journal you want to submit to does not have a rule against that. 

Common Heading and Subheading Mistakes 

Subheadings are not sentences.

If your heading reads like a full sentence, then you can most probably omit the verb or generally rephrase to shorten it. That also means a heading should not contain punctuation except maybe colons or question marks – definitely don’t put a period at the end, except when you have reached heading level 4 in the APA formatting style (see above) and the rules say so.  

Be consistent

Always check your numbering, for example for spaces and periods before and after numbers (e.g., 3.2. vs 3.2 ), because readability depends on such features. But also make sure that your headings are consistent in structure and content: Switching between short keyword headings (e.g., “ Experiment 2 ”) and summary headings (e.g., “ Mice Do not Recognize People ”) is confusing and never a good idea. Ideally, subheadings within a section all have a similar structure. If your first subsection is called “ Mice Do not Recognize People ,” then “ People Do not Recognize Mice” is a better subheader for the next subsection than “Do People Recognize Mice? ”, because consistency is more important in a research paper than creativity. 

Don’t overdo it

Not every paragraph or every argument needs a subheading. Only use subheadings within a bigger section if you have more than one point to make per heading level, and if subdividing the section really makes the structure clearer overall.

Before submitting your journal manuscript to academic publishers, be sure to get English editing services , including manuscript editing or paper editing from a trusted source. And receive instant proofreading with Wordvice AI, our AI online text editor , which provides unlimited editing while drafting your research work.

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APA Style 7th Edition

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APA 7th Edition Style Guide: Headings in APA

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What are headings?

Headings, sections, subsections, or levels of subordination are a style of dividing your research paper into major parts, then minor subsections. Most college papers do not need headings, especially if you are only producing two to five pages. However, if your professor requests you use headings or your are writing an especially long or detailed paper, then use headings to help readers navigate your text. Follow the APA style rules for creating the correct level of heading. Always start with a level one heading and drill down to the last subsection possible (five) in order as seen below. Instructions and examples for headings are available on p. 47- 49 of the new APA 7th Edition manual.

Levels of Headings

Additional headings resources.

  • APA Style: Headings This page of the APA Style Blog provides more details about styling paper section headings in APA style.
  • Heading Levels Template: Student Paper APA Style 7th Edition This example student paper clearly illustrates how to style section headings including the paper title and the Introduction section (which should not be labeled Introduction as APA assumes all papers begin with an introduction section).

Proper Title Case vs. lowercase paragraph heading

Proper title case is using both uppercase and lowercase letters in a title. It calls for the major words to be capitalized while any small conjunctions are made smaller, i.e., 

The Title of this Paper is Lengthy

Lowercase paragraph heading calls for the first word to be capitalized along with any proper nouns contained within the heading, i.e., 

        The title of this heading is much shorter and all lowercase except for the first word.

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Writing Research Papers

  • Formatting Research Papers

Research papers written in APA style should follow the formatting rules specified in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association .  Most research papers that are written for psychology courses at UCSD, including the B.S. Degree Research Paper and the Honors Thesis, have to follow APA format.  Here we discuss the formatting of research papers according to APA style.

How to Format a Research Paper in APA Style

For the most accurate and comprehensive information on formatting papers in APA style, we recommend referring directly to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Reputable online sources (e.g., the official APA Style website and the Purdue University Online Writing Lab’s guide to APA style) are also recommended. 

According to the Publication Manual, the major sections and components of APA style research papers should adhere to the following guidelines.  Note that how closely these guidelines are followed may vary depending on the course and instructor.  

General Formatting Rules

  • Papers should have at least 1-in. margins on all sides. 1
  • All text should be double spaced . 1
  • Times New Roman, 12 point font is preferred. 1
  • All lines of text should be flush-left and should not be justified, except where noted in the Manual. 1
  • The first line of every paragraph should be indented. Exceptions to the indenting rule are the Abstract, quotations, titles and headings, as well as Tables and Figures. 1
  • Pages should be numbered at the top right, with the title page numbered page 1, the Abstract numbered page 2, and the text starting on page 3. 1
  • An abbreviated title called the Running Head should be placed at the top of each page, flush-left in uppercase letters. 1
  • Two spaces should be used after punctuation marks at the end of each sentence (in other words, there should be two spaces after the period that ends each sentence). 2

Formatting the Title Page

  • The title should be typed in the upper half of the title page, centered, and with the first letters of all but minor words capitalized. 3
  • The name(s) of the author(s) should be typed below the title and followed with the institutional affiliation(s) of the author(s). 3
  • An Author Note should appear below the aforementioned items. The Author Note can have up to four paragraphs.  These respectively describe the author(s)’ departmental and institutional affiliation, any changes in affiliation, acknowledgments, and contact information. 3

Formatting the Abstract

  • The Abstract typically should not exceed 250 words. 4
  • The Abstract should be placed on a separate page, with the label Abstract appearing at the top center of that page and followed by the text of the Abstract. 4
  • The Abstract should not be indented. 4

Formatting the Main Body of Text

  • The main body of text should begin on a separate page after the Abstract. 5
  • It should begin with the Introduction section. 5
  • The Introduction section should be titled with the title of the research paper and not the word “Introduction.” The title should appear at the top of the page, centered, and should not be bolded. 5
  • The remainder of the text should be flush-left, with each new paragraph indented except where noted above (see General Formatting Rules ). 5
  • Each of the subsequent sections of the paper should be prefaced with a heading. APA guidelines specify different heading formats (for more information on Levels of Headings , see below). 5

Formatting References

  • The references section should begin on a separate page after the main body of text. 6
  • It should begin with the word “References” placed at the top of the page and centered. 6
  • All references should be listed in alphabetical order by the last name of the first author of each reference. 6
  • All references should be double-spaced and should use a hanging indent format wherein the first line of each reference is flush-left and all subsequent lines of that reference are indented (with that pattern repeating for each reference). 6
  • All references should use the appropriate APA reference format (for more information, please see the Citing References section of this website). 6

Levels of Headings in APA Style

As of the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (released in 2010), the five possible levels of heading in APA-formatted manuscripts are: 7

  • Level 1: centered, bold, on a separate line, and the first letters of all but minor words capitalized.
  • Level 2: flush-left, bold, on a separate line, and the first letters of all but minor words capitalized.
  • Level 3: indented, bold, as a paragraph heading (the first part of a paragraph; regular text follows on the same line), and in lowercase letters ending with a period.
  • Level 4: indented, bold, italicized, as a paragraph heading (the first part of a paragraph; regular text follows on the same line), and in lowercase letters ending with a period.
  • Level 5: indented, not bold, italicized, as a paragraph heading (the first part of a paragraph; regular text follows on the same line), and in lowercase letters ending with a period.

Depending on the structure of your research paper, some or all of the five levels of headings may be used.  The headings have a “hierarchical nested structure” where Level 1 is the highest and Level 5 is the lowest.  For example, you may have a research paper which uses all five levels of heading as follows:

Downloadable Resources

  • How to Write APA Style Research Papers (a comprehensive guide) [ PDF ]
  • Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers (a brief summary) [ PDF ]
  • Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – empirical research) [ PDF ]
  • Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – literature review) [ PDF ]

Further Resources

How-To Videos     

  • Writing Research Paper Videos

External Resources

  • APA Style Guide from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
  • APA Tutorial on the Basics of APA Style
  • EasyBib Guide to Writing and Citing in APA Format
  • Sample APA Formatted Paper
  • Sample APA Formatted Paper with Comments
  • Tips for Writing a Paper in APA Style

1 VandenBos, G. R. (Ed). (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) (pp. 228-229).  Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

2 vandenbos, g. r. (ed). (2010). (pp. 87-88). , 3 vandenbos, g. r. (ed). (2010). (pp. 23-25). , 4 vandenbos, g. r. (ed). (2010). (pp. 25-27)., 5 vandenbos, g. r. (ed). (2010). (pp. 41-49). , 6 vandenbos, g. r. (ed). (2010). (pp. 37-38, 49-51). , 7 vandenbos, g. r. (ed). (2010). (p. 62). .

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The Liberty University Writing Center is available to provide writing coaching to students. Residential students should contact the  On-Campus Writing Center  for assistance. Online students should contact the  Online Writing Center  for assistance. 

The Jerry Falwell Library has a physical and eBook edition of the AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors .  The AMA Manual contains exhaustive guidance for students needing more detailed information about ethical and legal considerations, correct and preferred usage, abbreviations, nomenclature, units of measure, numbers and percentages, study design and statistics, and mathematical composition,

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If you need assistance in developing your qualitative or quantitative methodology, the SAGE Research Methods database provides resources for researchers conducting research in the social sciences. 

General Rules

Liberty University Students will either write AMA 11 style papers using the Non-structured Abstract format, or using the Practicum Class or Other Papers Requiring Structured Abstract format. To assist you in formatting, Liberty University's Writing Center provides a template and a sample paper for each formatting style. 

Papers with Non-Structured Abstract 

  • Sample AMA 11 paper 
  • Template AMA 11 paper  

Papers Using Structured Abstract 

  • Template AMA 11 paper 

Additionally, the Writing Center also has a sample AMA 11 style annotated bibliography .

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you format your paper : 

  • Title Page : The title page should include the report's title, student's name, and student ID number, date, and word count. A sample title page is found on the Liberty University's Writing Center's sample papers . 
  • Margins/Alignment : Your papers should use 1-inch margins on standard-sized paper (8.5' X 11'). Make sure that you use Align left (CTRL + L) throughout the paper, except for the title page.  
  • Spacing : The AMA does not have a standard for line spacing. Double-spaced lines are recommended throughout the body of your work, excluding block quotations. Block quotations are single-spaced, left-justified, with the entire left margin indented 1/2 inch. 
  • Indentation : The first sentence in each new paragraph in the body of the paper should be indented 1/2 inch. AMA style references are listed in numerical order and do not receive any indentation. 
  • Fonts : The AMA does not have a standard font or font size. Liberty University recommends that you write your papers in 12-point Times New Roman font for the body, and for all elements other than the title of the paper and headings. 
  • Headings : The AMA Manual outlines four different heading levels. The title of your report and Level 1 headings must be in bold Arial 14-point font. Level 2 headings are in bold Arial 12-point font. Level 3 headings are in bold Arial 12-point font and underlined. Level 4 headings are in bold Arial 12-point font and italicized. 
  • Tables and Figures:  In AMA-style papers, tables and figures are included in the body of the report. Section 4.0 of the AMA Manual of Style outlines how to format tables, figures, and multimedia. Tables and figures are numbered consecutively: Figure 1, Figure 2, etc. 
  • Formatting Your References : Section 3.0 of the AMA Manual of Style outlines how to cite sources in text and how to format the references list found at the end of the work. The AMA style uses an endnote citation system, with references being provided in order of first use. 
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  • Last Updated: Apr 3, 2024 9:18 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.liberty.edu/ama

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Examples

Research Paper Summary

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research paper with headings example

Whether you are a student, an academic scholar, or even working in business, there is no denying that a research paper summary is the one tool that you are going to expect when it comes to writing your research paper or research studies. There is also no denying how useful the summary is going to be when you have to report it to your superiors or your professors without having to go through the entire research paper. Students know for themselves that writing a summary of their research paper is useful. With that, here are examples of research paper summaries to download.

10+ Research Paper Summary Examples

1. economics research paper summary.

Economics Research Paper Summary

2. Goals Research Paper Summary

Goals Research Paper Summary

Size: 243 KB

3. Past Research Paper Summary

Past Research Paper Summary

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4. Project Management Research Paper Summary

Project management Research Paper Summary

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5. Qualitative Research Paper Summary

Qualitative Research Paper Summary

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6. Reading Research Paper Summary

Reading Research Paper Summary

7. Research Paper Proposal Summary

Research Paper Proposal Summary

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8. Research Paper Summary Format

Research Paper Summary Format

Size: 120 KB

9. Research Paper Summary Generator

Research Paper Summary Generator

10. Sample Research Paper Summary

Sample Research Paper Summary

Size: 111 KB

11. Style Research Paper Summary

Style Research Paper Summary

Size: 199 KB

What Is a Research Paper Summary?

Research paper summaries are short but descriptive writings that are expected in a research paper . What goes in a research paper summary is the main topic or the main plot of your research paper. However, what is and should never be included are any new discoveries, arguments and new leads that help your research. The purpose of the summary is to simply give out the general point of view or the outline of your research paper and nothing else. This is often the mistake made by students when they think of a research paper summary. The need to add all new leads to help their research in the summary. The only main thing to focus on your summary is the overview and the general outline . 

How to Write a Research Paper Summary

Being able to write a research paper summary is important and quite a useful skill. As this does not only work for students on their research paper, but it also works for employees who are given the task to write a project summary. It basically works just the same. To get a glimpse of what you can do to make your research paper summary, here are simple steps you can follow.

Step 1: Take the Main Part of Your Research

When you make your summary, the first paragraph will mainly be about your research paper. The first part is to take the main part of your research. The main part or the main topic should be what it is about. Make sure what you are writing is what your research paper is about, as there are times when your topic may not be the main goal of your paper.

Step 2: Break It Down to Smaller Topics

Since the first paragraph is focused on the introduction and the main topic, the second paragraph will focus mainly on breaking down your main or general topic into smaller subtopics. By doing this, it is easier for you to divide and explain every single important detail of your research paper. Students are often tasked to do this in order for them to get a better outlook of their research paper and how they are able to piece together the smaller topics to the main topic.

Step 3: Get the Gist

The third and final paragraph will be the gist of your research paper. This includes the heart or the main part, the findings and the conclusion. The gist has to be a general summary of your research paper. It should have the facts that support it, the findings of your research and the hypothesis. Add in your conclusion at the end.

Step 4: Proofread Your Work

Lastly, make sure to proofread your entire research paper summary. This is just to make sure you did not misspell any words, your punctuations are in the correct place and the tone of your writing fits the paper you are making.

What is a research paper summary?

Research paper summaries are short but descriptive writings  that are expected in a research paper. What goes in a research paper summary is the main topic or the main plot of your research paper.

What are the characteristics of a research paper summary?

The characteristics of a research paper summary are the following:

  • The introduction and the main topic
  • The breaking of the main topic to sub topics
  • The gist of the research paper summary
  • The conclusion

How lengthy can a research paper summary be?

The normal length of a research paper summary should not exceed more than a page. However, when it comes to the number of words for a summary, your wording should not exceed the maximum number of four hundred words.

When it comes to writing a research paper, there is no denying that you must also write a summary for it. Since a research paper can sometimes be overwhelming to those who will be listening to you talk about it, you can relieve it by making a summary of your paper. This will also help them follow what you are discussing and what it is about.

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COMMENTS

  1. APA Headings and Subheadings

    There is no " Introduction " heading at the beginning of your paper because the first paragraphs are understood to be introductory. Heading level 2 is used for subsections under level 1. For example, under "Methods" (level 1) you may have subsections for "Sampling Method" and "Data Analysis" (level 2). This continues all the way ...

  2. Headings

    There are five levels of heading in APA Style. Level 1 is the highest or main level of heading, Level 2 is a subheading of Level 1, Level 3 is a subheading of Level 2, and so on through Levels 4 and 5. The number of headings to use in a paper depends on the length and complexity of the work. If only one level of heading is needed, use Level 1.

  3. APA Sample Paper

    Crucially, citation practices do not differ between the two styles of paper. However, for your convenience, we have provided two versions of our APA 7 sample paper below: one in student style and one in professional style. Note: For accessibility purposes, we have used "Track Changes" to make comments along the margins of these samples.

  4. How to Write and Format Headings in Academic Writing

    At the outset, make a plan for how you will deal with matters of capitalization, formatting and sequencing of headings. Headings at the same level should be formatted the same. For instance, "Section 2.2" should get the same treatment as "Section 4.1". They should also have parallel structure.

  5. 13.1 Formatting a Research Paper

    Set the top, bottom, and side margins of your paper at 1 inch. Use double-spaced text throughout your paper. Use a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a legible size (10- to 12-point). Use continuous pagination throughout the paper, including the title page and the references section.

  6. Formatting Research Paper Headings and Subheadings

    APA style headings example structure. Level 1 Centered, Bold, Title Case. Text begins as a new paragraph. Level 2 Left-aligned, Bold, Title Case. Text begins as a new paragraph. Level 3 Left-aligned, Bold Italic, Title Case. Text begins as a new paragraph. Level 4 Indented, Bold, Title Case, Period. Text begins on the same.

  7. How do I style headings and subheadings in a research paper?

    The paper or chapter title is the first level of heading, and it must be the most prominent. Headings should be styled in descending order of prominence. After the first level, the other headings are subheadings—that is, they are subordinate. Font styling and size are used to signal prominence. In general, a boldface, larger font indicates ...

  8. Research Paper Format

    The formatting of a research paper is different depending on which style guide you're following. In addition to citations, APA, MLA, and Chicago provide format guidelines for things like font choices, page layout, format of headings and the format of the reference page. Scribbr offers free Microsoft Word templates for the most common formats.

  9. PDF Formatting a Research Paper

    Do not use a period after your title or after any heading in the paper (e.g., Works Cited). Begin your text on a new, double-spaced line after the title, indenting the first line of the paragraph half an inch from the left margin. Fig. 1. The top of the first page of a research paper.

  10. Headings

    5 Levels of Headings. Heading.Level. Heading.Format. 1. Centered, Bold, Title Case. Paragraph begins here, on the line after the heading. This example is singled spaced, but should be double-spaced as all text in the paper. 2. Flush Left, Bold, Title Case.

  11. APA Headings and Seriation

    Headings are used to help guide the reader through a document. The levels are organized by levels of subordination, and each section of the paper should start with the highest level of heading. There are 5 heading levels in APA. Regardless of the number of levels, always use the headings in order, beginning with level 1.

  12. PDF Heading Levels Template: Student Paper, APA Style 7th Edition

    Title of Paper. Begin your paper with the paper title at the top of the first page of text. The paper title acts as a de facto Level 1 heading: It is centered and in bold title case font. Do not use the heading "Introduction"; text at the beginning of the paper is assumed to be the introduction. APA Style headings have five possible levels.

  13. Sample papers

    These sample papers demonstrate APA Style formatting standards for different student paper types. Students may write the same types of papers as professional authors (e.g., quantitative studies, literature reviews) or other types of papers for course assignments (e.g., reaction or response papers, discussion posts), dissertations, and theses.

  14. APA 7th Edition Style Guide: Headings in APA

    Most college papers do not need headings, especially if you are only producing two to five pages. However, if your professor requests you use headings or your are writing an especially long or detailed paper, then use headings to help readers navigate your text. Follow the APA style rules for creating the correct level of heading.

  15. Formatting Research Papers

    As of the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (released in 2010), the five possible levels of heading in APA-formatted manuscripts are: 7. Level 1: centered, bold, on a separate line, and the first letters of all but minor words capitalized. Level 2: flush-left, bold, on a separate line, and the ...

  16. Research Guides: AMA Writing Guide: AMA Style Formatting

    Here are a few things to keep in mind as you format your paper: . Title Page: The title page should include the report's title, student's name, and student ID number, date, and word count.A sample title page is found on the Liberty University's Writing Center's sample papers.; Margins/Alignment: Your papers should use 1-inch margins on standard-sized paper (8.5' X 11').

  17. General Format

    Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper. Double-space the text of your paper and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Whatever font you choose, MLA recommends that the regular and italics type styles contrast enough that they are each distinct from one another.

  18. PDF Student Paper Setup Guide, APA Style 7th Edition

    • Repeat the paper title at the top of the first page of text. • Begin with an introduction to provide background and context. • Use descriptive headings to identify other sections (e.g., Method, Results, Discussion for quantitative research papers). • Sections and headings vary depending on paper type and complexity.

  19. Chicago Style: Using Headings

    This guide helps you to format these headings and gives some tips and guidelines for using sections and subsections in your paper. ... This guide uses the guidelines and standards from the 9th edition of Kate L. Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. This guide is intended more for students and is still ...

  20. How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

    Sub-point of sub-point 1. Essentially the same as the alphanumeric outline, but with the text written in full sentences rather than short points. Example: First body paragraph of the research paper. First point of evidence to support the main argument. Sub-point discussing evidence outlined in point A.

  21. A Guide on How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper

    How to write an abstract for a research paper: 1. Start with clarity 2. Describe methodology 3. Highlight key findings 4. Discuss implications 5. Keep concise

  22. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue.

  23. Research Paper Summary

    What Is a Research Paper Summary? Research paper summaries are short but descriptive writings that are expected in a research paper. What goes in a research paper summary is the main topic or the main plot of your research paper. However, what is and should never be included are any new discoveries, arguments and new leads that help your research.

  24. How to Write a Research Paper

    Develop a thesis statement. Create a research paper outline. Write a first draft of the research paper. Write the introduction. Write a compelling body of text. Write the conclusion. The second draft. The revision process. Research paper checklist.

  25. IEEE Paper Format

    The paper title is written in 24 pt. Times New Roman, centered at the top of the first page. Other headings are all written in 10 pt. Times New Roman: Level 1 text headings begin with a roman numeral followed by a period. They are written in small caps, in title case, and centered. Level 2 text headings begin with a capital letter followed by a ...