Formatting an APA title page

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The title page is a requirement for all APA papers. The primary role of the title page is to present just that: the title. But that’s only the beginning of what is actually required for a properly formatted APA title page. This is the first chance a writer has to truly engage with the reader.

For students, the title page also lets people know which class, professor, and institution the text was written for. For professional authors, the title page is an opportunity to share any affiliations or conflicts of interest that might be present.

APA Style recognizes two different ways to format a title page. One is for student papers and the other is for professional papers. This guide will examine the difference and provide real-life examples of both.

The information provided below comes from the 7th edition of the APA’s Publication Manual. You can read more about title page elements in Sections 2.1 – 2.8.

The difference between a professional title page and a student title page in APA

Both student and professional title pages require a title, author, and an affiliation. Both types of title page also require the same basic formatting, including 1-inch indentations on all sides and a page number in the top right corner.

The primary difference is that professional title pages also require an author note and a running head. However, some professors do ask that you provide some of these elements in student papers. It’s a good idea to know how to format them just in case.

Student title page APA

An APA title page for any paper being submitted for a class, degree, or thesis is all about the basics. Here are the elements that should be included in a student title page:

  • Title of your paper
  • Byline (author or authors)
  • Affiliation (department and university)
  • Course name and course number
  • Instructor name
  • Due date
  • Page number

Your professor or institution might have their own formatting requirements. When writing a paper for a class, the first rule is to always pay attention to the instructions.

Professional title page APA

A professional title page skips the class info and due date, but it includes:

  • Title of your paper
  • Byline (author or authors)
  • Affiliation (division and/or organization)
  • Author note
  • Running head
  • Page number

The author note and running head are generally only required for professional papers. However, some professors might ask that you include one or both of them. Be sure to check the assignment instructions before submitting.

Elements of an APA Style title page

Title

The title of your paper is really important. This is where the author needs to simultaneously inform and engage the reader without being overly wordy.

An effective title will:

  • Engage the reader
  • Concisely explain the main topic of research
  • Concisely explain any relevant variables or theoretical issues

The paper title should be placed three or four lines down from the top margin of the page. It should be presented in bold, title case, and centered on the page.

Author/Byline

The correct way to display the author’s name is first name, middle initial, and last name. The most important thing is to prevent the possibility of mistaken identity. After all, there are a lot of papers published every year, and it’s possible that someone else has the same name as you do.

For all author bylines in APA, all licenses and degrees are omitted (e.g., Dr., Professor, PhD, RN, etc.).

If your paper has multiple authors, then they should all be listed in the same way, in order of their contributions. All authors should be on the same line, unless more lines are required.

Here’s an example of a properly formatted byline for a paper with two authors:

Cassandra M. Berkman and Wilhelm K. Jackson

Affiliation

The affiliation element is where you identify the place where the work was conducted or who it was conducted for. This is almost always a university or institution. In some cases, there are multiple affiliations for one author, or multiple authors with different affiliations.

Academic affiliations

Academic affiliations include schools, universities, and teaching hospitals. The affiliation line should include the specific department followed by the name of the institution. There is no need to include a location for academic affiliations.

Here is an example of what a basic academic affiliation line should look like:

Department of Psychology, Colorado State University

Non-academic affiliations

Non-academic affiliations are anything that isn’t a school or university, which could be a hospital, laboratory, or just about any type of organization. The affiliation line for a non-academic organization should include the department or division, followed by the name and location of the organization. All elements should be separated by commas.

Here’s how it looks when put to use:

Vidant Health, Greenville, NC, United States

Course number and name (Student only)

Use the course number and course name as they appear on official university materials. Examples:

  • ENG 204: Modern English Literature
  • PSYC 2301: Research Methodology

Instructor name (Student papers only)

It’s important that you display your instructor’s name in their preferred way. With academics who have multiple degrees and positions, this isn’t something that you should guess at.

It is generally safe to use the course syllabus to see how they prefer to be listed. For example, some use the word “Professor” as their prefix, and many will have PhD, RN, or other type of professional designation.

Due date (Student papers only)

The due date should be presented in the day, month, and year format that is standard to your country.

Page number

The page number goes at the top right-hand side of the paper. This is one of the only elements that appears on every single page.

You can add running page numbers to your paper by double-clicking the header portion of the document or clicking the “Insert” tab. It will automatically insert page numbers into the rest of the document.

Author note (Professional papers only)

The author note is usually only required for professional papers. This is where additional data, disclaimers, conflicts of interest, and statements about funding are placed. In some cases, the author statement can be several pages long.

The author note is generally split into four paragraphs, including:

  1. ORCID iD (a scientific/academic author ID)
  2. Changes of Affiliation
  3. Disclosures and Acknowledgments
  4. Contact Information

Section 2.7 of the Publication Manual has even more information on how to structure these elements for a professional paper.

Running Head (Professional papers only)

While some student papers might require a running head, this is something that is typically only for papers being submitted for publication. This is an abbreviated version of your title that appears at the top of every page to help readers identify it. The running title is particularly useful especially in print versions of journals and publications.

The running head does not have to use the same words as they appear in your title. Instead, try to re-work your paper’s main idea into a shortened form.

For example, if your paper’s title is:

“A Mystery of Style: Exploring the Formatting Mechanics of the Running Head According  to APA Style 7th Edition”

Then your abbreviated title can be something like:

“RUNNING HEAD IN APA 7”

OR

“FORMATTING THE RUNNING HEAD”

The idea is to convey only the most important aspects of your title. The running head should be entered in the page header, flush left against the margin, and presented in all-capital letters.

The APA suggests a maximum length of 50 characters (including spaces and punctuation) for a running head. If your title is already 50 characters and under, then you can use the whole thing as the running head.

APA formatting title page example

Next, let’s have a look at an example of what a real APA title page looks like when it’s all put together.

Student title page formatting example

APA style student title page example

Professional title page formatting example

APA-format-professional-title-page

Conclusion: Formatting a title page in APA 7

All papers written according to APA Style should have a properly formatted title page. Making sure that the title page elements are accurate and informative will help people access your work. It is also the first opportunity that you have as the author to establish credibility and engage the reader.

For more information on how to format the basic elements of an APA paper, check out Chapter 2 of the Publication Manual.


Published October 28, 2020.


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