APA Headings and Subheadings

Copy the Word screen shot settings below to format your APA headings and subheadings.

Scroll down, or go straight to:

Written instructions are also provided if you need them.

Reminder - your APA headings and subheadings should be in Title Case - see Title Case Rules.


APA Level 1 Heading

Step 1

Word screenshot of font properties required for APA Level 1 Headings.Figure 1: APA Level 1 Heading (Font properties)

Please note: APA seventh edition allows various font types and sizes (opens in new window). Choose your font type and size.  However, you must then use that font type and size for all your APA headings and subheadings.

Written instructions for Figure 1 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the heading text (if necessary).
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Set the Font to Times New Roman (or font of your choice).
  4. Set the Font style to Bold.
  5. Set the Font Size to 12 (or recommended font size).

Step 2

Word screenshot of paragraph properties required for APA Level 1 Headings.Figure 2: APA Level 1 Heading (Paragraph properties)

Written instructions for Figure 2 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the heading text (if necessary).
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Click on the bottom right hand arrow in the Paragraph group.
  4. Select the Indents and Spacing tab (if not already selected).
  5. Set Alignment to centered.
  6. Set Outline level to 1.
  7. Set Line spacing to Double.
  8. Click on OK.

Step 3

Word screenshot of page break and hyphenation properties required for APA Level 1 Headings.Figure 3: APA Level 1 Heading (Line and page break properties)

Written instructions for Figure 3 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the Line and Page Breaks tab.
  2. Select Page break before.
    This will start your Level 1 Heading on a new page.
    This is not an APA standard, so ignore if you do not want your Level 1 Heading starting on a new page.
  3. Select Don't hyphenate.
    Word will not hyphenate (i.e., split a word) if your Level 1 Heading goes onto the next line. 
  4. Click on OK.

APA Level 2 Heading (Subheading for the Level 1 Heading)

Step 1

Word screenshot of font properties required for APA Level 2 Headings.Figure 4: APA Level 2 Heading (Font properties)

Written instructions for Figure 4 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the heading text (if necessary).
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Set the font to Times New Roman (or font of your choice).
  4. Set the Font style to Bold.
  5. Set the font size to 12.

Please note: The font type and size must be the same for all your APA headings and subheadings.

Therefore, use the same font type and size that you have for your Level 1 heading.

Step 2

Word screenshot of paragraph properties required for APA Level 2 Headings.Figure 5: APA Level 2 Heading (Paragraph properties)

Written instructions for Figure 5 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the Level 2 heading text (if necessary).
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Click on the bottom right hand arrow in the Paragraph group.
  4. Select the Indents and Spacing tab (if not already selected).
  5. Set Alignment to Left.
  6. Set Outline level to 2.
  7. Set Line spacing to Double.
  8. Click on OK.

Step 3

Word screenshot of page break and hyphenation properties required for APA Level 2 Headings.Figure 6: APA Level 2 Heading (Line and page break properties)

Written instructions for Figure 6 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the Line and Page Breaks tab.
  2. Select Widow/Orphan control.
    Your Level 2 Heading will not be split over two pages if your heading is longer than one line.
  3. Select Keep with next.
    Your Level 2 Heading and the next paragraph will be on the same page (i.e., the heading will not be on one page and the paragraph on another page).
  4. Select Don't hyphenate.
    Word will not hyphenate (i.e., split a word) if your Level 2 Heading goes onto the next line. 
  5. Click on OK.

APA Level 3 Heading (Subheading for the Level 2 Heading)

Step 1

Word screenshot of font properties required for APA Level 3 Headings.Figure 7: APA Level 3 Heading (Font properties)

Written instructions for Figure 7 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the heading text (if necessary).
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Set the font to Times New Roman (or font of your choice).
  4. Set the Font style to Bold Italic.
  5. Set the font size to 12.

Please note: The font type and size must be the same for all your APA headings and subheadings.

Therefore, use the same font type and size that you have for your Level 1 and Level 2 headings.

Step 2

Word screenshot of paragraph properties required for APA Level 3 Headings.Figure 8: APA Level 3 Heading (Paragraph properties)

Written instructions for Figure 8 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the Level 3 heading text (if necessary).
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Click on the bottom right hand arrow in the Paragraph group.
  4. Select the Indents and Spacing tab (if not already selected).
  5. Set Alignment to Left.
  6. Set Outline level to 3.
  7. Set Line spacing to Double.
  8. Click on OK.

Step 3

Word screenshot of page break and hyphenation properties required for APA Level 3 Headings.Figure 9: APA Level 3 Heading (Line and page break properties)

Written instructions for Figure 9 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the Line and Page Breaks tab.
  2. Select Widow/Orphan control.
    Your Level 3 Heading will not be split over two pages if your heading is longer than one line.
  3. Select Keep with next.
    Your Level 3 Heading and the next paragraph will be on the same page (i.e., the heading will not be on one page and the paragraph on another page).
  4. Select Don't hyphenate.
    Word will not hyphenate (i.e., split a word) if your Level 2 Heading goes onto the next line. 
  5. Click on OK.

APA Level 4 Heading.  This is the subheading for the Level 3 Heading.

The APA Level 4 heading is not separate from the paragraph (unlike the Level 1, 2, and Level 3 headings).

The Level 4 heading is part of the first line of the paragraph which is indented.

To format the Level 4 heading:

  1. Type the text which will be the heading.
  2. Press Ctrl+Alt+Enter on your keyboard.
    This creates a style separator, which means you can format the text up to it as an APA Level 4 heading. The text after the style separator is the text for the rest of the paragraph.
  3. Select the text before the style separator and format as shown in the following screen shots.

Step 1

Word screenshot of font properties required for APA Level 4 Headings.Figure 10: APA Level 4 Heading (Font properties)

Written instructions for Figure 10 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the heading text (if necessary).
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Set the font to Times New Roman (or font of your choice).
  4. Set the Font style to Bold.
  5. Set the font size to 12.

Please note: The font type and size must be the same for all your APA headings and subheadings.

Therefore, use the same font type and size that you have for your Level 1, 2, and Level 3 headings.

Step 2

Word screenshot of paragraph properties required for APA Level 4 Headings.Figure 11: APA Level 4 Heading (Font properties)

Written instructions for Figure 11 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the Level 4 heading text (if necessary).
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Click on the bottom right hand arrow in the Paragraph group.
  4. Select the Indents and Spacing tab (if not already selected).
  5. Set Alignment to Left.
  6. Set Outline level to 4.
  7. Set First line indent to 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters)
  8. Set Line spacing to Double.
  9. Click on OK.

Step 3

Word screenshot of page break and hyphenation properties required for APA Level 4 Headings.Figure 12: APA Level 4 Heading (Line and page break properties)

Written instructions for Figure 12 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the Line and Page Breaks tab.
  2. Select Widow/Orphan control.
    Your Level 4 Heading will not be split over two pages if your heading is longer than one line.
  3. Select Don't hyphenate.
    Word will not hyphenate (i.e., split a word) if your Level 2 Heading goes onto the next line. 
  4. Click on OK.

Please note:  You do not have to format the Level 4 heading this way.

You could:

  1. Type the paragraph (indenting the first line as required).
  2. Select the Level 4 heading text.
  3. Format in the APA style, that is, Bold.

However, you cannot have an Outline level of Level 4 for the heading; This means you cannot include the Level 4 heading in a Table of Contents.

APA style does not require a Table of Contents.

However, your instructor may ask for a Table of Contents that contains the APA headings and subheadings.


APA Level 5 Heading. This is a subheading for the Level 4 Heading.

To format the Level 5 heading:

  1. type the text which will be the Level 5 heading.
  2. press Ctrl+Alt+Enter on your keyboard.
    This creates a style separator, which means you can format the text up to the style separator as an APA Level 5 heading. The text after the style separator is the text for the rest of the paragraph.
  3. Select the text before the style separator and format as shown in the following screen shots.

Step 1

Word screenshot of font properties required for APA Level 5 Headings.Figure 13: APA Level 5 Heading (Font properties)

Written instructions for Figure 13 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the heading text (if necessary).
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Set the font to Times New Roman (or font of your choice).
  4. Set the Font style to Bold Italic.
  5. Set the font size to 12.

Please note: The font type and size must be the same for all your APA headings and subheadings.

Therefore, use the same font type and size that you have for your Level 1, 2, 3, and Level 4 headings.

Step 2

Word screenshot of paragraph properties required for APA Level 5 Headings.Figure 14: APA Level 5 Heading (Paragraph properties)

Written instructions for Figure 14 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the Level 5 heading text (if necessary).
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Click on the bottom right hand arrow in the Paragraph group.
  4. Select the Indents and Spacing tab (if not already selected).
  5. Set Alignment to Left.
  6. Set Outline level to 5.
  7. Set First line indent to 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters)
  8. Set Line spacing to Double.
  9. Click on OK.

Step 3

Word screenshot of page break and hyphenation properties required for APA Level 5 Headings.Figure 15: APA Level 5 Heading (Line and page break properties)

Written instructions for Figure 15 (if required) are as follows:

  1. Select the Line and Page Breaks tab.
  2. Select Widow/Orphan control.
    Your Level 5 Heading will not be split over two pages if your heading is longer than one line.
  3. Select Don't hyphenate.
    Word will not hyphenate (i.e., split a word) if your Level 2 Heading goes onto the next line. 
  4. Click on OK.

N.B. You do not have to format your Level 5 heading this way - see previous note about APA headings and subheadings in the Table of Contents.


How to Format Your APA Headings and Subheadings Quickly Forever!

APA headings and subheadings can be formatted in Word three ways.

They are:

  • the really long way (use the Font and Paragraph tools from the Home tab to format each heading as you write),
  • the long way (use Format Painter in the Home tab to copy the format to each heading as you write), and
  • the really smart way using Styles.

Set up your APA headings and subheadings styles in Word once and then:

  • format all your headings APA style with one click,
    and
  • format all the headings in your future APA style academic papers with one click.

All your APA headings and subheadings will always be available in the correct APA format for your academic writing.

The benefits are immense!

They are:

  • save a lot of time because you do not have to format each heading every time,
  • make the format the same everywhere in the document (e.g., each heading is Times New Roman 12),
  • get the format correct the first time and it will be correct forever,
    and
  • make changes to the heading style once (e.g., change font size from 12 to 11) and all headings with that style will change automatically.

You will be more efficientconsistent, and accurate with your academic writing!

Find out how to set up your APA headings and subheadings using Word styles for the following:

Summary

You can format your APA headings and subheadings by following the Word screens above.

Levels one to three are usually enough. However, level four and five headings are provided should you need them.

If you have several headings, you can format one heading, and then apply that format to other headings by using the Format Painter brush.

To copy the format from one heading to another:

  1. Format the heading the first time in the APA format (as shown above).
  2. Select the heading text.
  3. Click (or touch) the Format Painter brush in the Clipboard group of the Home tab.
  4. Brush over (hold left mouse button down) the heading to which the APA heading format is be applied.

N.B. Double click the Format Painter twice to keep the Format Painter brush active when the left mouse button is released. You can then format several headings. Deselect by clicking (touching) the Format Painter brush or pressing the Esc key on the keyboard.

However, the best way (especially if you have several headings and/or will be writing lots of APA format papers) is to create a style for each heading, and then apply each time the APA format is required.