Answered By: Jonathan Faerber (he/him/his)
Last Updated: Nov 04, 2021     Views: 48560

APA Style (7th ed.)

Headings help to give structure to your document and allow your reader to clearly understand the levels of organization within your paper:

Headings in a document identify the topic or purpose of the content within each section . . . . There are five possible levels of heading in APA Style . . . and all topics of equal importance should have the same level of heading. For example, in a multiexperiment paper, the headings for the Method and Results sections in Experiment 1 should be the same level as the headings for the Method and Results sections in Experiment 2, with parallel wording. In a single experiment paper, the Method, Results, and Discussion sections should all have the same heading level. Avoid having only one subsection heading and subsection within a section, just as you would in an outline. Use at least two subsection headings within any given section, just like in an outline; use at least two subsection headings within a section or use none. (American Psychological Association, 2020, p. 47)

Please see below for the five levels of headings and their respective formatting:

Centred, Bold, Title Case Heading (1)

Flush Left, Bold, Title Case Heading (2)

Flush Left, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading (3)

Indented, Bold, Title Case Heading, Ending With a Period. (4)

Indented, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading, Ending With a Period. (5)

(American Psychological Association, 2020, p. 48)

When using paragraph headings (level 4 and 5 headings), begin paragraph text on the same line after the heading (American Psychological Association, 2020, p. 48).  Use Microsoft Word styles to format your headings, and format them consistently within each level throughout the entire document. Use the levels sequentially e.g., Level 1 headings for section headings, Level 2 headings for sub-sections. For example:

Literature Review


Historical Perspective


Modern History


Research Strategy



Do not include an "Introduction" heading (see Should I Provide an "Introduction" Section Heading in my Essay (APA Style)?). For more information regarding section headings, please refer to pages 47-48 in the APA Style manual.


American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).