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Referencing: Formatting tips

This Guide contains or links to guidance for the main referencing styles used at JCU (including MLA, Chicago and AGLC, which are not stand-alone Guides), and general information about referencing.

5 Steps to a great title

The title of your paper is incredibly important. A paper’s title not only sets readers’ expectations for what the paper will be about but may also determine whether it gets read at all—or with how much trepidation versus excitement it is greeted.

Below are five general principles that, if followed, will produce a great title:

Running Head(er) in APA

Running Head Format for APA Style Papers

If you've ever been confused by what a running head is or wondered how to format one for an APA Style paper, read on.

A running head is a short title (50 characters or fewer, including spaces) that appears at the top of every page of your paper (insert Header for Microsoft Word). The running head identifies the pages for the reader in case they get separated, and if you submit your paper for publication, it does this while preserving your anonymity during the review process. In published articles it also identifies the article for the reader at a glance.

Formatting Instructions

The running head (along with the page numbers) appears in the header of every page (the header by nature is situated within the top margin of your paper; all the margins themselves should be set to 2.54cm). Type it in all capital letters, make sure it is no longer than 50 characters (including spaces), and left justify it. Then add your page numbers, right justified.

On the first page only, the running head is also preceded by the words Running head and a colon. On all other pages, just the running head itself and the page number appear, without the words Running head:. Our APA Style FAQ addresses how to set up a different header on the first page, and there are also instructions available on Microsoft’s webpages for Word 2010 and 2013. If you use other word-processing software, please feel free to share links or instructions in the comments. Finally, you can see examples of the running head format in our APA Style sample papers.

APA 6th Formatting with MS Word

APA formatting


"The prefered typeface for APA publications is Times New Roman, with a 12-point font size" (p. 228).


Line Spacing:

"Double-space between all text lines of the manuscript. Double-space after every line in the title, headings, footnotes, quotations, references, and figure captions...never use single-spacing or one-and-a-half spacing except in tables or figures" (p. 229).



"Leave uniform margins of at least 1 in. (2.54 cm) at the top, bottom, left and right of every page" (p. 229).



"Do not justify lines... instead, use the flush-left style, and leave the right margin uneven, or ragged. Do not divide words at the end of a line, and do not use the hyphenation function to break words at the ends of lines. Let a line run short rather than break a word at the end of a line" (p.229).



"Indent the first line of every paragraph and the first line of every footnote... type the remaining lines of the manuscript to a uniform left-hand margin. The only exceptions to these requirements are (a) the abstract, (b) block quotations, (c) titles and headings, (d) table titles and notes, and (e) figure captions" (p.229).


Reference List:

"APA requires that the reference list be double-spaced and that the entries have a hanging indent" (p.180).
"Arrange entries in alphabetical order by the surname of the first author followed by initials of the author's given name" (p.181).

Author Date Styles

For Vancouver, references are listed according to the allocated number it is referred to in the text.

For APA, MLA and Harvard Styles, the list is arranged in alphabetical order of authors' surnames

  • If a reference has no author, list it alphabetically according to the title. Ignore the words 'A' and 'The' at the beginning of a title.
  • If there are two references by the same author, list them in order of publication date with the older one first.
  • If references by the same author have been published in the same year, list them alphabetically by title. Letters a, b, etc. are placed after the year, e.g. (2001a), (2001b)

Levels of Heading

APA levels of heading

The above table from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2010, p.62) clearing outlines the style required for formatting using APA style.  See the full entry from the APA blog below.

Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Word

  • CTRL T to easily indent the 2nd line of your APA citations.
  • SHIFT F3 changes case from Upper case to lower case.
  • CTRL+ALT+V to paste special from a webpage  (see more from the APA Blog post)

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