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How do you know which level heading you're suppose to use?

Last Updated: Sep 10, 2014  |  520 Views
Topics: APA

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Thank you for your question about if and when to use APA headings.

When writing an APA paper, there are times when headings would be useful. The APA headings are these:

APA Headings

Level   Format
  1    Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Headings
  2 Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading
  3   Indented, boldface, lowercase heading with a period. Begin body text after the period.
  4   Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period. Begin body text after the period.
  5

  Indented, italicized, lowercase heading with a period. Begin body text after the period.

The short answer for determining which heading level to use is: it depends on your paper.

The University of Colorado Springs has a useful guide on how to determine which levels to use. When you view their guide, you will notice that an APA paper does not necessarily require headings. It really depends on how long the paper is, how detailed the paper is, how many different points will be in the paper, and if the reader will need guide posts to understand your paper. 

The official APA Style Blog also has some advice on how to properly utilize levels. 

Many papers do not need heading levels at all. Other papers perhaps only need level 1 or levels 1 and 2 headings. Very rarely will a paper need all five levels, unless it is a dissertation or something equally complicated. If you are in an undergraduate class, your instructor will usually tell you if you need headings. 

For help with other APA topics, check out Baker's APA Help

If you need further assistance, please contact your Campus Librarians.

Answered by Tessa BettsBookmark and Share

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