What Needs to Be at the Top of an Essay That Adheres to APA?

by Rebekah Richards, Demand Media

American Psychological Association, or APA, style provides formatting and citation guidelines for writers in the social sciences. According to the Sixth Edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, all essays written in APA style must have a "running head" or shortened title at the top of each page, as well as the page number. The top of the title page is formatted slightly differently from the rest of the essay.

Running Head Format

The running head is an abbreviated version of your title that is no longer than 50 characters, including spaces. Once you have composed a shorter title, create a header in your document and write the running head in all capital letters. Left-justify the running head and then add the page number, right-justified. The running head will appear in the top margin of the page because the header is part of the margin.

Title Page

On the title page, add the words "Running head," followed by a colon and your running head. The title page should also have a right-justified page number. In Microsoft Word, you can change the header for only the title page by going to the "View" tab, clicking "Print Layout," and double-clicking the header of the document. Then check the box for "Different First Page," in the "Options" menu. Type your title page header on the first page and your normal header on the second page; the remaining pages of the document will have the header from the second page.

About the Author

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at tolerance.org. She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.

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