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APA Paper : How to Create Footnotes and Headings in APA Style

Within the main text of your thesis or dissertation, you may need to organize the text and information beyond the standard blocks of text. You have a couple of options under APA Style. Footnotes give you the option of adding information about an idea in your text without detracting from the text. Headings allow you to organize the text into sections, similar to an outline.

APA Paper : How to Create Footnotes and Headings in APA Style

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Within the main text of your thesis or dissertation, you may need to organize the text and information beyond the standard blocks of text. You have a couple of options under APA Style. Footnotes give you the option of adding information about an idea in your text without detracting from the text. Headings allow you to organize the text into sections, similar to an outline.

1. FOOTNOTES

APA Style recommends against using footnotes within the paper, because it is difficult for a publishing company to reproduce the superscript numbers used with footnotes. Footnotes are explanatory notes referenced from the main text. If you need to use footnotes, place them at the end of the paper, after the references list. (Some people call these types of citations “endnotes.”) Footnotes should appear on a separate page with the word “Footnotes” centered at the top of the page.

It’s worth noting that because APA allows for in-text citations, you’ll rarely need footnotes, unless you need an in-depth explanation of an item within the text. However, keep the footnote to a maximum of a few sentences and do not discuss more than one idea per footnote. If you need a more complex footnote, you’ll want to include the information as an appendix page entry or incorporate it into the main text instead.

APA Style allows for two types of footnotes: Content and copyright permission. A content footnote should include information that would be distracting to include within the main text. It’s a good way to point the reader toward additional information. A copyright permission footnote shows the reader that you have obtained permission to use a previously published long quote (more than 500 words), table, or figure.

Both types of footnotes require the same type of formatting, as shown in the following example.

Technological advancements tend to spark economic growth worldwide.1

On the footnote page, indent each footnote as a new paragraph and double space throughout.

1 Johnson defines technological advancements in a variety of ways …

2. APA STYLE HEADINGS

APA allows for you to use headings to better organize your paper. You can think of using headings like creating an outline. You can use up to five levels with headings, although the formatting becomes tricky if you go deeper than three levels.

The headings formatting requirements include:

FIRST LEVEL. The first level headings should be centered above their associated text blocks. Use both uppercase and lowercase words within the heading.

SECOND LEVEL. Type the second level heading in all italics, flush left, and with both uppercase and lowercase words.

THIRD LEVEL. The third level heading should look like a sentence at the start of a paragraph, as it’s indented, all lowercase words (other than the first word or proper nouns), and ends with a period. It is italicized, however, to set it apart from the main text.

An example of the formatting for the first three levels of headings looks this way.

First Level of Heading (centered)

Main text continues as normal (indented).

Second Level of Heading (flush left)

Main text continues as normal (indented).

Third level of heading (indented). Main text should immediately follow the third heading.

FOURTH LEVEL. If you need a fourth level heading, you have to rework your previous headings. The second level becomes italicized and centered, while the old second level and old third level become the new third and fourth levels, respectively.

First Level of Heading (centered)

Main text continues as normal (indented).

Second Level of Heading (centered)

Main text continues as normal (indented).

Third Level of Heading (flush left)

Main text continues as normal (indented).

Fourth level of heading (indented). Main text should immediately follow the fourth heading.

FIFTH LEVEL. Again, adding a fifth level requires reworking of the other levels, beginning with the first level, which now becomes a centered and all uppercase heading. Every other heading moves down one spot. The old first level heading becomes the new second level, and the others follow suit.

FIRST LEVEL OF HEADING (centered)

Main text continues as normal (indented).

Second Level of Heading (centered)

Main text continues as normal (indented).

Third Level of Heading (centered)

Main text continues as normal (indented).

Fourth Level of Heading (flush left)

Main text continues as normal (indented).

Fifth level of heading (indented). Main text should immediately follow the fifth heading.

Finally, keep in mind that very few papers will require more than two or three levels of headings. Typically, the only types of papers that need four or five levels of headings are those detailing complex scientific experiments.

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