APA formatting guide for a doctoral-level thesis - Advanced guide

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You have written your Ph.D. thesis? Yes! Now you have a task to perform and that is to format your thesis as per your university guidelines. If your university follows the APA style then this blog is for you.

First of all, it is very important to understand the key rules and guidelines of APA formatting. However, you still have to get an idea of the entire APA format guidelines to perfectly format your thesis or dissertation. Additionally, scholars say that using APA formatting style makes a paper clearer.

Formatting Guide

According to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association Sixth Edition, APA style requires specific heading formatting for a Ph.D. thesis. This specific heading formatting for a Ph.D. thesis is as follows.

Level of Heading Formatting Guidelines
1 Centered and boldface, uppercase and lowercase heading
2 Boldface and flush left, lower and uppercase heading
3 Boldface, indented, lowercase paragraph heading, ending with a period
4 Boldface, indented, lowercase, and italic paragraph heading and ends with a period
5 Indented and italic, boldface and lower paragraph heading, end with a period.

Report/Paper Formatting Guide

Title Page

It may be known to you that the title page in the APA format or style is centered vertically and horizontally. This contains the main title of the thesis or paper, the name of the author or essay writer , and the name of the institute such as college or university. For a thesis, this (title page) also includes the degree of the student. However, including the month and year should never be forgotten.

Moreover, make sure that your title page is numbered on the first page of your thesis. Otherwise, any error may cost you grades or recognition of your work/thesis. Whereas, the running header must appear on the upper left side of the document or paper. But note that the title page of the dissertation or thesis does not involve a running head. So take care of your paper accordingly.

Furthermore, the running head must be capitalized and should never be longer than 50 characters. I know all these details may seem too much to remember but you’ll get the hang of it after practice. Also, some students look for the cheapest essay writing service providers to help them with writing and formatting their thesis within the given deadline. But one must always be careful when handling their money to them because usually, the quality is not what you expect.

Hence, by preferring cost over quality (especially in the case of a student), maybe a highly critical mistake. It is so because a lower quality and an inaccurately formatted paper may cost you grades or paper’s recognition in the journal. For example, some particular programs have varying requirements for running head and page numbering, so making a mistake may be very costly.


The abstract is a brief summary, comprising approximately 150-250 words. It is written to describe the main topic, problem, and results of the research study. Formatting an abstract according to APA guidelines is much easier as it only needs to be a single paragraph with no indentation.

Body Section

In the body section of your thesis, make sure to add a running head and page numbers, as these are the main requirements of APA style rules. The running head should be capitalized in the main body of your thesis too. I know this all sounds too complicated and like you, I too, faced difficulty when I had to write my essay. It took practice to remember all the details and guidelines of the APA format. Nonetheless, once I got the hang of it, it was a piece of cake from thereon.


The page numbering and running head must also be present in the reference section of your thesis. In terms of writing, the word “References” should be centered while the line spacing remains double. In addition to this, your reference list should also have a hanging indent.

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