With the most recent edition of the APA publication manual (currently the 6th edition), there have been quite a few noticeable changes. One topic area that has seen the change is formatting of headings of various levels. As the first step in knowing how to format a particular heading or subheading, you will need to understand the various levels of headings. In APA, format of headings can be one of five levels, with Level 1 being the broadest heading and Level 5 being the most specific heading. Main headings in your paper (i.e., Methods, Results, Discussion, etc.) are considered Level 1 headings. There are also main sections of the paper that are not technically considered Level 1 headings, such as the abstract, introduction, and references. The headings of these sections are simply centered in the middle of the page with no additional formatting.
Other level headings are subheadings within a Level 1 heading. For example, a common Level 2 heading in the methods section is instrumentation. Under the instrumentation subheading, some researchers will choose to use Level 3 subheadings for each instrument used in the study. Once you have determined what level heading you are dealing with, you will need to format it in accordance to APA style. The table below outlines the formatting of headings by levels.
1 Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase
2. Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase
3 Indented, boldface, lowercase, ended with a period.
4 Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase, ended with a period.
5 Indented, italicized, lowercase, ends with a period and followed directly by text.
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