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Ed.D. Dissertation Guide: Formatting

APA and formatting guidelines

Please note that the APA Publication Manual is primarily intended for submitting papers for journal publication. It lacks guidelines specific to dissertations and doctoral projects.  To fill this gap, this research guide provides  general formatting guidelines for you to follow. Please check with your department for any specific requirements.

General formatting guidelines


  • for electronic submissions: 1" margins on all sides
  • for hard copy submissions to the bindery: 1,5" on the left-hand margin to accommodate binding and 1" on all other sides

Exception: allow more than 1" at the bottom of a page to avoid “widow” and “orphan” lines


  • Times New Roman

Exceptions: special characters, math signs, symbols, and words in foreign languages


  • 12-point font

Exception: use 10-point font for texts in figures/tables, footnotes, footnote numbers, and captions for figures 


  • double-space between all text lines, including references and block quotes
  • no extra spacing between paragraphs or before or after text headings

Exceptions: text in figures/tables and captions for figures and tables must be single-spaced

Line length

  • maximum of 6.5 inches
  • no hyphenation to break words at the end of a line


  • the first line of every paragraph, ½ inch, left justified

Exceptions: titles and headings; the abstract; block quotations; table titles and notes; figure captions

  • no justification of right margins  

Page numbers

         Front matter: lower case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii)

Note:  The title page is unnumbered but presumed to be “i,”
so the page following it is “ii.” 

Main text and back matter: numbered consecutively using Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3)

Page number placement

  • at the top right of each page, including the title page 
  • on the same line as the header


  • numbers under 10 are written out
  • numbers 10 and above are presented numerically
  • numbers are always written out if they begin a sentence
  • percentages are listed numerically (10%), unless the percent is the beginning of a sentence 


  • first word of each paragraph, 5 spaces (1/2"inch) from left margin
  • hanging indents for references

Running heads

  • Title page: no running head
  • All other pages: a short capitalized TITLE of your dissertation (no longer than 50 characters, including spacing and punctuation) in the top left corner of each page‚Äč

Note: The running head should be placed within the 1” margin, not below it, on the same line as the page number, 
approximately 1⁄2 - 3⁄4” from the top edge of the paper.

  • double-space after all punctuation at the end of a sentence 
  • punctuation is placed inside quotation marks
  • punctuation is placed outside of parentheses

Footnotes and endnotes

Please note that APA does not recommend the use of footnotes and endnotes because they require special formatting and are often expensive for publishers to reproduce.

Major sections

Title page

  • all text centered top-to-bottom on page

Copyright page (optional)

  • no heading
  • contains a running head and page number
  • not listed in the Table of Contents
  • centered, bottom third of page
  • includes the copyright symbol (©),year, your full name, and “All Rights Reserved” below the copyright line


 ©2018 Victoria Martin
 All Rights Reserved

Dedication (optional)

  • on a separate page
  • the word Dedication: centered, in bold
  • text: indented

Acknowledgements (optional)

  • on a separate page
  • the word Acknowledgements: centered, in bold
  • text: indented


  • On a separate page
  • the word Abstract: top of the page, centered, in bold
  • text:  no indentation, single block of text, up to 350 words
  • Keywords (optional)
    • indent 5 spaces from left margin
    • type the word Keywords (italicized), followed by a colon
    • list your keywords separated by a semicolon

Table of contents

  • on a separate page or pages
  • the words Table of Contents: top of the page, centered, in bold 
  • list the titles of all front matter, body matter, and back matter titles

Exception: do not list the copyright page in the table of contents

Tables and figures 

  • inserted immediately after they are first mentioned in the text
  • alignment of tables and figures is not specified by APA


  • On a separate page or pages
  • The word References: top of the page, centered, in bold
  • Your references:
    • cited according to APA Style (6th edition)
    • double spaced
    • hanging indents
    • running heads continue and appear in the upper left-hand corner
    • page numbers continue and appear in the upper right-hand corner


  • each appendix on a separate page or pages
  • each appendix is preceded by a title page that lists the appendix with the title of the appendix underneath it in bold, centered on the page
  • for a single appendix, center the word Appendix
    (not in bold)
  • for multiple appendixes, label them Appendix A,
    Appendix B, Appendix C, etc.
  • appendices should be cited in the text and sequenced following the order in which they are mentioned in the text
  • when using copyrighted material, permission should be acknowledged in the appendix

Biographical sketch (optional)

  • on a separate page
  • the word Biographical sketch: top of the page, centered, not in bold
  • text: one paragraph, left indentation

Curriculum vitae (optional)

  • on a separate page or pages
  • may follow your own format
  • may be single spaced

Copyright permissions

APA requires a formal permission from the copyright holder when you quote more than 500 words from a source. 

The copyright permission note must be included at the bottom of the page where the quote appears.

APA heading levels

Level Format

Centered in Bold with the First Letter of Important Words Capitalized


Flush left in Bold with the First Letter of Important Words Capitalized


     Indented in bold with only the first letter of the first word capitalized, ending with a period. Begin text after the period.


     Indented in bold and italicized with only the the first letter of the first word capitalized, ending with a period. Begin text after the period.


     Indented, not in bold, italicized with only the the first letter of the first word capitalized, ending with a period. Begin text after the period.

(Adapted from Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab))

Order of pages

  1. Title page
  2. Copyright page (optional)
  3. Dedication (optional)
  4. Acknowledgements (optional)
  5. Abstract
  6. Table of contents
  7. List of tables (if applicable)
  8. List of figures (if applicable)
  9. Main text
  10. References
  11. Appendices (if applicable)
  12. Biographical sketch (optional)
  13. CV (optional)

Creating the running head

  • Select the Insert tab from the top menu 
  • On the toolbar, select Header
  • Select Edit Header
  • Check the box Different First Page
  • Leave the first page header blank
  • Scroll to the second page of your manuscript
  • On the toolbar, select Header
  • In the header, type a shortened version of your title in all capital letters

Don't forget to change the font size
nd style of your running head
to 12pt. Times New Roman font.

Creating page numbers

  • Place your cursor to the right of the running head and press the Tab button on your keyboard twice
  • Select the Insert tab from the top menu
  • On the toolbar, select Page Number
  • Select Current Position and choose Plain Number
  • The page number will appear with a consecutive number in every page in the header.        



  • at least 25% rag content (a.k.a. cotton or high quality bond) paper
  • 8.5 x 11 inches


  • On one side only