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Dissertation & Doctoral Project Formatting & Clearance: APA Style 7th Ed.

  • Submitting to the Library
  • Formatting Manual & Forms
  • APA Style 7th Ed.
  • Submitting to ProQuest ETD

SPRING 2024 CHANGES TO THE DISSERTATION CLEARANCE PROCESS

In order to streamline the dissertation clearance process, the following changes have been made, effective 3-1-2024 .

1. The Dissertation Cataloging Form is no longer necessary.

2. The Dissertation Clearance Form is now initiated directly by the student, and only through Adobe Sign - Signed PDFs and scanned forms have been replaced by Adobe Sign.

3. Students completing dissertation clearance are no longer required to schedule a meeting with their DCR (Dissertation Clearance Representative). If they have questions about what to do, they are welcome to schedule a DCR appointment, but it is not required.

If you have questions about these changes or other aspects of the process, contact [email protected] and we will be happy to assist.

Finding It @ Your Library

apa dissertation layout

General APA Style Guidelines

WRITING STYLE

Verb tense. APA style papers should be written in past or present perfect tense:

Avoid: Mojit and Novian's (2013) experiment shows that...

Allowed: Mojit and Novian's (2013) experiment showed  that...

Allowed: Mojit and Novian's (2013) experiment has shown that...

Be concise and clear

  • Avoid vague statements
  • Present information clearly
  • Eliminate unnecessary words

Style matters

  • Write objectively
  • Avoid poetic or flowery language

AVOIDING BIAS

Be sensitive to labels

  • Avoid identifying groups by a disorder Avoid: schizophrenics Allowed: people diagnosed with schizophrenia
  • Avoid outdated or inappropriate labels
  • When you must label a group, try to use a term that group prefers

Gender pronouns

  • Gender refers to a social role
  • Sex refers to biological characteristics

What is the APA 7th Edition Publication Manual?

The 7th edition of Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association was created by the American Psychological Assocation (APA), and contains the complete guidelines on how to format material for publication and cite your research .  It is a set of style rules that codifies the components of scientific writing in order to deliver concise and bias free information to the reader. 

This guide provides some of the basics to keep in mind, but it doesn't replace owning or borrowing the actual Publication Manual itself. It should be on your desk by your side throughout your writing process.

APA style, 7th edition requires specific heading formatting.

For Levels 1-3, the paragraph text begins on a new line. For Levels 4-5, the paragraph text begins on the same line and continues as a paragraph.

In Section 4.2 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.), APA (2020) states that you should use verb tenses consistently throughout your work. See a chart of when and how to use past tense (Rodriguez found) and present perfect tense (Researchers have shown) at the APA Style website .

In-Text Citation Basics

Author/Date Citation Method

APA publications use the author/date in text citation system to briefly identify sources to readers.  Each in-text citation is listed alphabetically in the reference list.  All in-text citations referenced in the body of work musr appear in the reference list and vice versa.

  • The author-date method includes the author's surname and the the publication year.  Do not include suffixes such as Jr., Esq., etc. Example : (Jones, 2009)
  • The author/date method is also used with direct quotes.  Another component is added in this format: (Jones, 2009, p.19)
  • When multiple pages are referenced, use pp. (Jones, 2009, pp.19-21)

Variations of author/date within a sentence Here are some examples of how the author/date citation method are formatted within different parts of a sentence. Please note the author, publication date, and study are entirely fictional.

  • Beginning of a sentence: Jones (2009) completed a study on the effects of dark chocolate on heart disease.
  • Middle of a sentence: In 2009, Jones's study on the effects of dark chocolate and heart disease revealed...
  • End of a sentence: The study revealed that participants who ate dark chocolate bars every day did not develop heart disease (Jones, 2009).

Citing works with more than one author

  • One author: Jones (2009) // (Jones, 2009)
  • Two authors: Ahmed and Jones (2010) // (Ahmed & Jones, 2010)
  • Three or more authors: Tsai et al. (2011) // (Tsai et al., 2011)
  • Group/organization author that can be abbreviated: 1st mention: National Institutes of Health (NIH, 2012) // subsequent mentions: NIH (2012)

Sample References

Journal articles

Sharifian, N., & Grühn, D. (2019). The differential impact of social participation and social support on psychological well-being: Evidence from  the Wisconsin longitudinal study. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development , 88 (2), 107-126. https://doi.org/10.1177/0091415018757213

Shiraev, E. (2017). Personality theories: A global view. SAGE.

Chapter from a book

Ochs, E., & Schieffelin , B. B. (1984). Language acquisition and socialization: Three developmental stories and their implications. In R. A. Shweder & R. A. LeVine (Eds.), Culture theory: Essays on mind, self, and emotion (pp. 276 320). Cambridge University Press.

Webpage from a website

World Health Organization. (2020, June 15) . Elder abuse . https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/elder-abuse

View many more examples in the APA Style Manual or on the APA Style website .

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Grad Coach

APA 7th Edition Formatting

A Simple, Step-by-Step Guide + Free Template

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewer: Eunice Rautenbach (DTech) | June 2023

Formatting your paper in APA 7th edition can feel like a pretty daunting task , and understandably so. In this post, we’ll walk you through the APA 7 requirements, step by step. We’ll also share our free APA template , which you can use to fast-track your writing.

Student vs Professional Papers

First things first, it’s important to clarify that APA 7th edition has slightly different requirements for two different types of papers: student papers and professional papers . In this post, we’ll focus on the requirements for student papers. This will cover pretty much any paper you’ll need to submit as part of a degree program, including a dissertation or thesis (although those can require some small tweaks – more on that later).

Overview: APA 7th Edition Formatting

  • APA structure and layout
  • General page setup
  • The title page
  • The abstract
  • The main body
  • The reference list
  • The appendices
  • Free APA template

Structure and Layout

Let’s start by looking at the overall structure of a student paper formatted for APA 7th edition, before diving into the details of each section. APA requires that your paper follows a very specific, standardised structure , consisting of the following parts:

The title page : this will include the title of your paper, as well as a subtitle (if required by your university). It will also contain some information about yourself, your department and the course you’re writing the paper for.

The abstract : depending on the length of your paper and the requirements of your university, you may be required to present a brief abstract, summarising the core takeaways from your paper.

The main body : this section is the “heart” of your paper, containing the bulk of your word count. This is where you’ll present your A-grade writing!

The reference list : this section is where you’ll detail all the reference information corresponding to the in-text citations in the main body of your paper (the previous section).

Tables and figures: in the vast majority of cases, universities require that tables and figures are included in the main body of the paper, but if that’s not the case, the alternative is to have a dedicated section for the tables and figures. This is uncommon though, but we’ve mentioned it just in case.

The appendices : depending on the length of your paper and the specific requirements of your university, you may be required to include an appendix or a set of appendices containing supplementary information, such as data sets or evidence of some sort of fieldwork.

These core sections form the standard structure and order of a student paper using APA 7th edition. As we mentioned, not all of these sections are always required (specifically, the abstract, tables and figures section, and the appendix are less common), so be sure to check what your university expects from you before submitting.

Now that we’ve got a big-picture view, let’s look at the specific formatting requirements for each of these sections, step by step.

Generic Page Setup

Before you jump into writing up your paper, you’ll need first set up your document to align with APA 7th edition’s generic page requirements. Alternatively, you download our APA template (which comes fully preformatted) to fast-track your writing.

APA 7th edition requires a 1-inch margin on all sides of your document, for all pages. That said, if you’re writing a dissertation, thesis or any document that will ultimately be bound, your university will likely require a larger left margin to accommodate for binding.

Fonts & sizing

You’ll need to use a specific font and font size consistently throughout your student paper. The approved options for APA 7th edition are as follows:

  • Sans serif fonts: 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode
  • Serif fonts: 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or normal (10-point) Computer Modern (the default font for LaTeX)

Within figures , you will need to use a sans serif font, typically between 8 and 12 points in size. It’s best to check with your university what their preference is in this regard. For footnotes , you can use whatever the default settings are in your word processor.

In general, all text other than headings needs to be left-aligned and should not be justified . We’ll cover the formatting of headings a little later.

Line spacing

APA 7th edition requires double line spacing throughout the document . There should also be no extra space before and after paragraphs . One exception to this rule is that text within figures or tables can utilise single or 1.5-line spacing. Again, it’s a good idea to check with your university what their specific preference is.

Running header

Last but not least, you’ll need to set up a running header for your document. This should contain the page number and should be positioned in the top right corner of all pages (including the first page). There is no need for footer content unless your university specifically requests it.

With these generic formatting considerations out of the way, let’s dive into the specific requirements for each section of your paper.

The Title Page

The title page is the shop window of your paper; it’s where you make the all-important first impression to your reader. Therefore, it’s really important to make sure your format this exactly as required for APA 7th edition.

Here’s the process you can follow to set up your title page for success.

  • Centre-align your curson and create 4 empty lines
  • On a new line, type the title of your paper in boldface, using title case
  • On a new line, type the subtitle of your paper in boldface, using title case
  • Add one blank line, then write your full name on the next line
  • On a new line, type your affiliation (your department and university or school name)
  • On a new line, type your course code and course name (match the format used by the institution)
  • On a new line, type your professor or course instructor’s name
  • On a new line, type the due date for your paper

Remember to centre align all of this text and do not use justification . If you’re unsure about how to write using title case, here’s a useful title case converter . To make it all a little more tangible, below is an example of a title page formatted according to APA 7th edition specifications.

Example of a title page in APA 7 format

The Abstract

As we mentioned earlier, an abstract is not always required for student papers, but if your university has indicated that they require one, you’ll need to follow a specific format for APA 7th edition. Here’s how you can set it up:

  • Start your abstract on a new page
  • On the first line, type “Abstract”. This should be boldface and centred
  • On a new line, write the abstract. This should be aligned flush left (no indentation) and is typically 150 – 250 words in length.
  • On a new line, type “Keywords:”. This should be indented a half inch and italicized
  • On the same line, include 3 – 5 relevant keywords. These should all be written in lowercase and should not be italicised. They should be separated by commas and there should be no period after the final keyword.

Here’s an example of an abstract page formatted according to APA 7th edition specifications.

Example of APA 7 abstract

The Main Body

Now we can move on to the important stuff – the body section of your paper. There are quite a few things you need to know about formatting this section for APA 7th edition – let’s unpack it step by step.

Initial set-up

To kick things off, insert a page break and start your main body on a new page . You can then copy and paste the title (and subtitle, if you have one) from your title page onto the first line of your body page.

With your title (and subtitle) in place, you can start your write-up on a new line . This should be left-aligned and the first line of each paragraph should have a half-inch indent . As with the rest of your paper, this section should use double-line spacing.

The first paragraph of your main body does not require a heading as it’s generally assumed that the first paragraph will be introductory in nature. For the rest of the body, you can use headings as you see fit. However, it’s important to understand the specific formatting requirements for APA headings . Here’s a quick overview:

Level 1: Centered, boldface, title case (paragraph text starts on a new line) Level 2: Flush left, boldface, title case (paragraph text starts on a new line) Level 3: Flush left, boldface, italic, title case (paragraph text starts on a new line) Level 4: Indented, boldface, title case, end the heading with a period (paragraph text starts on the same line) Level 5: Indented, boldface, italic, end the heading with a period (paragraph text starts on the same line)

It’s also important to note that headings shouldn’t be labelled with any numbers or letters. For example, “1. Potential Causes”, “2. Consequences”, etc. Instead, you can stick to purely descriptive headings.

Related to this, you should avoid using an excessing number of headings – less is more when it comes to headings. Don’t feel the need to use multiple headings or heading levels, especially for shorter papers. Just keep it simple 🙂

APA 7 editing

Text styling and punctuation

APA 7th edition has specific requirements with regard to text styling and punctuation. Here are some of the most important requirements you’ll need to follow:

  • Use a single space (as opposed to a double space) at the end of each sentence (i.e., after the period)
  • Use an Oxford comma when listing out 3 or more items
  • Use words to write any number less than 10 , as well as when starting a sentence
  • Write out all fractions in text format (e.g., two-thirds, three-quarters, etc.)
  • Use numerals for any numbers that represent time , dates , age or money

There are a few important rules to follow in terms of language use when writing your paper using APA format. Most importantly, you’ll need to:

  • Use active voice (as opposed to passive voice) as much as possible
  • Stick to one verb tense throughout the same and adjacent paragraphs
  • Avoid using contractions , colloquial language or excessive jargon
  • Use bias-free language – you can learn more about this here

In-text citations

APA 7th edition has a very specific set of requirements regarding how to reference resources within your paper. Here are some of the most important things you need to be aware of:

Author-date system: in-text citations consist of (at a minimum) the lead author’s last name, followed by the date of publication. APA does not use numbers or footnotes to denote citations.

Types of citations: APA allows two types of in-text citations – parenthetical (non-integrative) and narrative (integrative). Parenthetical citations feature the author and date in parentheses (brackets) at the end of the respective sentence. Here’s an example:

APA 7th edition is easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog (Jansen, 2023).

Narrative citations weave the author into the flow of the sentence and only include the date in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Here’s an example:

Jansen states that APA 7th edition is easy for students to grasp if they visit the Grad Coach blog (2023).

Both of these citation formats are acceptable and, in general, it’s a good idea to utilise a mix of both in your writing.

Quotations: when quoting text verbatim from a source, you’ll need to include the page number of the original text in your citation. This number needs to be placed after the date portion of the citation, whether it’s a narrative or parenthetical citation. Here’s an example:

APA 7th edition is easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog (Jansen, 2023, p.45).

Multiple authors: when citing resources that were created by three or more authors, you only need to state the lead author’s last name, followed by “et al.”. Here’s an example:

APA 7th edition is easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog (Jansen et al., 2023).

As we mentioned, APA has an extensive set of requirements regarding how to format and structure in-text citations and references, so please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. If you’d like to learn more, you can visit the referencing section of the APA site here . Below you can find an example of a portion of body content from our free template , which demonstrates the different types of citations.

Example of APA 7 body text

The Reference List

With your body content taken care of, the next item on the agenda is the reference list. Again, APA has a notably large set of requirements regarding the content and formatting of the reference list. Nevertheless, we’ll cover the basics here to help you get started.

Basic setup

As with all sections, your reference list needs to start on a new page and should be titled “References”. The title should be boldfaced and centred . The reference list should then start on the next line. As with the rest of the document, the reference list should have double line spacing throughout.

The list itself

The reference list should comprise the following:

  • All sources cited in the body of your document should feature in the reference list. Make sure that every citation is accounted for in your reference list.
  • The references should be ordered alphabetically , according to the lead author’s last name .
  • Each entry must include (at a minimum) information regarding the author (s), publication date , the title of the article and the source (e.g., an academic journal).
  • All references should be left-aligned and should use a hanging indent – in other words, the second line of any given reference (if it has one) should be indented a half inch.

We have to stress that these are just the basics. APA 7th edition requires that all of your references must be structured and formatted in a very specific way , depending on the type of resource. For example, the content and formatting requirements for a journal article will be significantly different from that of a blog post or magazine article (you can see some examples in our template ).

Simply put, if you plan to draft your reference list manually, it’s important to consult your university’s style guide or the APA manual itself. This leads us to our next point…

In general, it is a terrible idea to try to write up your reference list manually . Given the incredibly high level of detail required, it’s highly likely that you’ll make mistakes if you try to write this section yourself. A much better solution is to use reference management software such as Mendeley or Zotero. Either of these will take care of the formatting and content for you, and they’ll do a much more accurate job of it too. Best of all, they’re both completely free.

If you’re not familiar with any sort of reference management software, be sure to check out our easy-to-follow explainer videos for both Mendeley and Zotero .

The Appendix

Last but not least, we’ve got the appendix (or appendices). The appendix is where you’ll showcase any supporting data for your student paper. This section is not always required , especially for shorter papers, so don’t worry if it sounds unfamiliar. If you’re unsure, check with your university if they require (or even allow) appendices.

If an appendix is required, here’s how you’ll set it up:

  • Start the appendix on a new page
  • Title the page “Appendix” if there is only one appendix , or “Appendix A”, “Appendix B”, etc. if there are multiple appendices . This title should be boldfaced and centred.
  • On a new line, write the title of the appendix . Again, this should be boldfaced and centred.
  • On a new line, start your appendix content . As with the body content, the first line of each paragraph should be indented.

An important point to remember is that you need to refer to your appendix within your main body section . This typically means including a line that reads something like “(see Appendix A for more information)”. In other words, your appendix should never be an orphan.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that appendices don’t typically earn marks (at least not directly). To be clear, your appendix can help support the claims you make in your body content (which would have a positive impact on its mark-earning potential), but, in most cases, markers will not award marks to the appendix content itself. If you’re unsure, check with your university what their policy is.

Example of an APA 7 formatted appendix

Wrapping Up

In this post, we’ve provided a primer covering the core requirements for student papers using APA 7th edition . To recap, we’ve looked at the following:

One last thing to point out; it might be obvious but it’s important to mention it – if your university has specified anything that contrasts what we’ve discussed here, do follow their guidance . Some universities and/or programmes will have slight variations on the standard APA requirements, and you want to make sure you follow them.

apa dissertation layout

Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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EDK 850 Research Design & Proposal Development

  • Formatting your Dissertation in APA Style
  • Getting Started
  • Journal Articles/Databases
  • Books/Reference Materials
  • How to Request Books and Articles from Other Libraries (ILL)
  • Literature Reviews
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  • Research Methods Resources for Graduate Students
  • Formatting using Microsoft Word
  • Education Websites
  • Info about UM-Dearborn Doctoral Requirements & Deadlines

APA Style Resources

Here are some general APA Style resources. Scroll down further to see more details about citations and paper formatting. 

  • APA Style Website The APA Style Website is the official website for APA 7th edition, and includes formatting guidelines for formatting your overall paper including title page setup, tables and figures, as well as guidelines for formatting reference citations. Sample papers are included.
  • Excelsior Online Writing Lab: APA Style The Excelsior OWL is an excellent resource for how to write and cite your academic work in APA Style. This is a recommended starting point if you're not sure how to use APA style in your work, and includes helpful multimedia elements.

Several print copies of the APA 7th edition Publication Manual are available for checkout at the Mardigian Library.

(Sorry, APA does not provide an eBook version of this for libraries at the present time.)

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APA Style 7th edition Citations (References and In-Text Citations)

If you're new to citation, this brief video will cover an introduction to in-text citations and reference lists in APA 7th edition. Scroll down for more recommended resources about citations. 

More information including examples and sample papers can be found at the recommended websites below: 

  • APA Style Website: Reference Examples Guidelines about references from the official APA Style website.
  • APA Style Website: In-text Citations Guidelines for in-text citations from the official APA Style website.
  • APA 7th edition quick reference handout This quick reference guide to APA 7th edition citations is handy and includes many commonly cited source types and corresponding in-text citations.
  • APA In-text Citation Checklist APA's official In-text citation checklist for the 7th edition.

APA Style 7th edition Formatting for Professional Papers (including Dissertations)

  • APA Style Website: Sample Annotated Professional Paper This is the official sample professional paper from the APA Style website, and includes annotations illustrating the usage of each element.
  • APA Style Website: Paper Format The APA Style website's paper format page includes all of the elements of paper format that you need to follow, including information about the title page, margins and spacing, fonts and headings. Sample papers are included.

CEHHS Formatting Requirements for Ed.D. Dissertations

CEHHS uses the current version of the APA Publication Manual (7th edition) for all matters of format with the exception of some particular requirements for the Title page, pagination (especially of front matter) and top margins. Unless otherwise stated in the CEHHS Ed.D. Dissertation Guide below, defer to APA 7th edition. 

Some formatting aspects to be sure you are following correctly include: 

  • Tables and Figures, including labeling thereof
  • CEHHS Ed.D. Dissertation Guide
  • UM-Ann Arbor Scholarspace Microsoft for Dissertations Guide
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APA Style, 7th edition - Citing Sources

  • Getting Started
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Dissertation & SPP Format Pieces

Creating a toc in apa, dnp spp toc examples, edd toc examples, important: signature page, the abstract & keywords.

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  • Want Your Paper Reviewed for APA?

If you are on this tab, you have probably been asked to format a dissertation or Scholarly Practice Project paper using APA format. Use the below information to help you format the different pieces of your paper.  Please check with your academic department to see if they have an official dissertation/SPP format template for your program.

A note on Table of Contents: Most APA papers do not require a Table of Contents (TOC). If you are writing a Dissertation or Scholarly Practice Project, you may be asked to include one. Please note: the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association does not have an official stance on formatting a Table of Contents page .

Below, you will find some general information and examples of Table of Contents (TOC), Abstracts and Keywords, and the Signature page that you may find helpful.

  • Scribbr Creating an APA-style Table of Contents This tutorial from Scribbr is extremely helpful in formatting your APA Table of Contents.

Scribbr APA Table of Contents

Use the below examples as a reference point for forming your Table of Contents. These should be used as a baseline for formatting-- yours will be more specific to your headings and subject-matter.

  • DNP SPP TOC Example 1
  • DNP SPP TOC Example 2
  • EdD Dissertation TOC Example 1
  • EdD Dissertation TOC Example 2

Your signature page is one of the most important pieces of your final product. It proves that you completed the dissertation!  Below is an example of what your signature page should look like (names blanked out for privacy).

If you have any questions about the signature page or how to get it signed, please contact your program director.

apa dissertation layout

ABSTRACT : An abstract is required for your Dissertation or Scholarly Practice Project and must be included before submitting your final copy to Proquest.  An abstract is a brief, comprehensive overview of your paper. Generally, it should not exceed 250 words.

KEYWORDS : You should also include keywords. Keywords are descriptive terms that encompass the themes of your paper. Think about what terms you used when searching for your topic in the databases. This is what researchers will use to find your paper!

  • APA Style Abstract and Keywords Handout For more information on creating an Abstract and Keywords, please use this handout from the APA Style site.
  • Professional Paper sample with Abstract Example See page one of this document for an example of an Abstract and Keywords, with annotations on where to find more information in APA Manual. From the APA Style site.
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  • Last Updated: May 16, 2024 1:31 PM
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APA Formatting and Style (7th ed.) for Student Papers

  • What's New in the 7th ed.?
  • Principles of Plagiarism: An Overview
  • Basic Paper Formatting
  • Basic Paper Elements
  • Punctuation, Capitalization, Abbreviations, Apostrophes, Numbers, Plurals
  • Tables and Figures
  • Powerpoint Presentations
  • Reference Page Format
  • Periodicals (Journals, Magazines, Newspapers)
  • Books and Reference Works
  • Webpage on a Website
  • Discussion Post
  • Company Information & SWOT Analyses
  • Dissertations or Theses
  • ChatGPT and other AI Large Language Models
  • Online Images
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  • Missing Information
  • Two Authors
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  • Missing Author
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  • Secondary Sources
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  • Fillable Template and Sample Paper
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  • APA Style 7th ed. Tutorials
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Reference Page Examples - Dissertations or Theses

  • Published Dissertation or Thesis
  • Unpublished Dissertation or Thesis

 A dissertation or thesis is considered published when it is available from a database such as ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

If the database or archive requires users to log in before they can view the dissertation or thesis, meaning the url will not work for readers, end the reference with the database name., author, a. a. (year).  title of dissertation  (publication no. xxxxxxxxx). [doctoral dissertation or masters thesis, name of, institution that awarded the degree]. name of source i.e. proquest dissertations and theses global. url for, the dissertation or thesis., d'arcangelis, g. s. (2009).  the bio scare: anthrax, smallpox, sars, flu and post-9/11 u.s. empire  (order no.,            3388146). [doctoral dissertation, university of california los angeles]. proquest dissertations and theses,            global. , * ** remember: each source listed on the reference page must correspond to at least one in-text citation in the body of the paper; each in-text citation must correspond to a source listed on the reference page., when a dissertation or thesis is unpublished, include the description “[unpublished doctoral dissertation]” or “[unpublished master’s thesis]” in square brackets after the dissertation or thesis title., in the source element of the reference, provide the name of the institution that awarded the degree., author, a. a. (year).  title of dissertation  [unpublished doctoral dissertation or unpublished, masters thesis], name of institution that awarded the degree. , johnson, b. (2005). balanced scorecard applications  [unpublished master's thesis]. worthington university..

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APA Style 6th Edition: Citing Your Sources

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Dissertation or thesis available from a database service:

Author Surname, First Initial. Second Initial. (year of publication).  Title of dissertation or thesis (Doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis).  Retrieved from Name of database.  (Accession or Order No.)

For an unpublished dissertation or thesis:

Author Surname, First Initial. Second Initial. (year of creation).  Title of dissertation or thesis (Unpublished doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis).  Name of Institution, Location.

See Ch 7 pp. 207-208 APA Manual for more examples and formatting rules

Formatting:

  • Italicize the title
  • Identify whether source is doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis in parentheses after the title
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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format / How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA

How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA

In this citation guide, you will learn how to reference and cite an undergraduate thesis, master’s thesis, or doctoral dissertation. This guide will also review the differences between a thesis or dissertation that is published and one that has remained unpublished. The guidelines below come from the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2020a), pages 333 and 334. Please note that the association is not affiliated with this guide.

Alternatively, you can visit EasyBib.com for helpful citation tools to cite your thesis or dissertation .

Guide Overview

Citing an unpublished thesis or dissertation, citing a published dissertation or thesis from a database, citing a thesis or dissertation published online but not from a database, citing a thesis or dissertation: reference overview, what you need.

Since unpublished theses can usually only be sourced in print form from a university library, the correct citation structure includes the university name where the publisher element usually goes.

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year published). Title in sentence case [Unpublished degree type thesis or dissertation]. Name of institution.

Ames, J. H., & Doughty, L. H. (1911). The proposed plans for the Iowa State College athletic field including the design of a reinforced concrete grandstand and wall [Unpublished bachelor’s thesis]. Iowa State University.

In-text citation example:

  • Parenthetical :  (Ames & Doughty, 1911)
  • Narrative :  Ames & Doughty (1911)

If a thesis or dissertation has been published and is found on a database, then follow the structure below. It’s similar to the format for an unpublished dissertation/thesis, but with a few differences:

  • The institution is presented in brackets after the title
  • The archive or database name is included

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year published). Title in sentence case (Publication or Document No.) [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Database name.

Examples 1:

Knight, K. A. (2011). Media epidemics: Viral structures in literature and new media (Accession No. 2013420395) [Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Example dissertation-thesis

Trotman, J.B. (2018). New insights into the biochemistry and cell biology of RNA recapping (Document No. osu1523896565730483) [Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University]. OhioLINK Electronic Theses & Dissertations Center.

In the example given above, the dissertation is presented with a Document Number (Document No.). Sometimes called a database number or publication number, this is the identifier that is used by the database’s indexing system. If the database you are using provides you with such a number, then include it directly after the work’s title in parentheses.

If you are interested in learning more about how to handle works that were accessed via academic research databases, see Section 9.3 of the Publication Manual.

In-text citation examples :

  • Parenthetical citation : (Trotman, 2018)
  • Narrative citation : Trotman (2018)

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year Published). Title in sentence case [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Name of archive or collection. URL

Kim, O. (2019). Soviet tableau: cinema and history under late socialism [Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh]. Institutional Repository at the University of Pittsburgh. https://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/37669/7/Olga%20Kim%20Final%20ETD.pdf

Stiles, T. W. (2001). Doing science: Teachers’ authentic experiences at the Lone Star Dinosaur Field Institute [Master’s thesis, Texas A&M University]. OAKTrust. https://hdl.handle.net/1969.1/ETD-TAMU-2001-THESIS-S745

It is important to note that not every thesis or dissertation published online will be associated with a specific archive or collection. If the work is published on a private website, provide only the URL as the source element.

In-text citation examples:

  • Parenthetical citation : (Kim, 2019)
  • Narrative citation : Kim (2019)
  • Parenthetical citation : (Stiles, 2001)
  • Narrative citation : Stiles (2001)

dissertation and thesis Citations for APA 7

We hope that the information provided here will serve as an effective guide for your research. If you’re looking for even more citation info, visit EasyBib.com for a comprehensive collection of educational materials covering multiple source types.

If you’re citing a variety of different sources, consider taking the EasyBib citation generator for a spin. It can help you cite easily and offers citation forms for several different kinds of sources.

To start things off, let’s take a look at the different types of literature that are classified under Chapter 10.6 of the Publication Manual :

  • Undergraduate thesis
  • Master’s thesis
  • Doctoral dissertation

You will need to know which type you are citing. You’ll also need to know if it is published or unpublished .

When you decide to cite a dissertation or thesis, you’ll need to look for the following information to use in your citation:

  • Author’s last name, and first and middle initials
  • Year published
  • Title of thesis or dissertation
  • If it is unpublished
  • Publication or document number (if applicable; for published work)
  • Degree type (bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral)
  • Thesis or dissertation
  • Name of institution awarding degree
  • DOI (https://doi.org/xxxxx) or URL (if applicable)

Since theses and dissertations are directly linked to educational degrees, it is necessary to list the name of the associated institution; i.e., the college, university, or school that is awarding the associated degree.

To get an idea of the proper form, take a look at the examples below. There are three outlined scenarios:

  • Unpublished thesis or dissertation
  • Published thesis or dissertation from a database
  • Thesis or dissertation published online but not from a database

American Psychological Association. (2020a). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

American Psychological Association. (2020b). Style-Grammar-Guidelines. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/citations/basic-principles/parenthetical-versus-narrative

Published August 10, 2012. Updated March 24, 2020.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

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To cite a published thesis in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the author, publication year, title of the thesis, institute name, archive name, and URL (uniform resource locator). The templates for an in-text citation and reference list entry of a thesis, along with examples, are given below:

In-text citation template and example:

Use the author surname and the publication year in the in-text citation.

Author Surname (Publication Year)

Cartmel (2007)

Parenthetical:

(Author Surname, Publication Year)

(Cartmel, 2007)

Reference list entry template and example:

The title of the thesis is set in sentence case and italicized. Enclose the thesis and the institute awarding the degree inside brackets following the publication year. Then add the name of the database followed by the URL.

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the thesis [Master’s thesis, Institute Name]. Name of the Database. URL

Cartmel, J. (2007). Outside school hours care and schools [Master’s thesis, Queensland University of Technology]. EPrints. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/17810/1/Jennifer_Cartmel_Thesis.pdf

To cite an unpublished dissertation in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the author, year, title of the dissertation, and institute name. The templates for in-text citation and reference list entry of an online thesis, along with examples, are given below:

Author Surname (Year)

Averill (2009)

(Author Surname, Year)

(Averill, 2009)

The title of the dissertation is set in sentence case and italicized. Enclose “Unpublished doctoral dissertation” inside brackets following the year. Then add the name of the institution awarding the degree.

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the dissertation [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Name of the Institute.

Averill, R. (2009). Teacher–student relationships in diverse New Zealand year 10 mathematics classrooms: Teacher care [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Victoria University of Wellington.

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APA Style Guide 7th Edition

  • Thesis and Dissertations
  • About This Guide
  • Direct Quote
  • Block Quote
  • Indirect Quote
  • Summary/Paraphrase
  • Tables/Graphs/Images
  • Personal Communications
  • Book/E-book
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GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR Thesis and Dissertations 

Published Thesis - Available online / from a database 

Author Last name, First Initials. (Year). Title of Thesis or Dissertation     [Type of thesis, Name of institution awarding degree]. Database name. Web address

Unpublished Thesis - Available in print from a college or university 

Author Last name, First Initials. (Year).  Title of Thesis or Dissertation     [Unpublished type of thesis]. Name of institution awarding degree.

EXAMPLES 

Published Thesis - From a database 

Kral, T. R. (2020). Impact of mindfulness meditation on brain function, connectivity, and structure (Publication          No.  27833897)    [Doctoral dissertation, The University of Wisconsin-Madison].  ProQuest Dissertations           Publishing.

Published Thesis - Available online  

Hunsaker, C. (2020).  Beyond theory: Simulation and role-play in interpreter education  [Master's thesis,           Western Oregon University]. Western Oregon University Digital Commons. https://digitalcommons           wou.edu/theses/61 

​ Unpublished Thesis - Available in print form at a college or university 

Carlin, A. (2017).  Effective pairing methods for students in a second grade dual language            classroom.  [Unpublished Master's thesis]. Western Oregon University.

NOTES ABOUT AUTHOR, DATE, TITLE, AND SOURCE

Author 

  • List the author alphabetically by the authors last name and first name initial(s)
  • Enclose the date of publication in parentheses followed by a period. For example: (2020).

Thesis or Dissertation Title 

  • Italicize the title 
  • The first word of the title and subtitle is capitalized as are proper nouns but all other words are lowercase. 
  • If a title ends with a question mark or exclamation point, use those punctuation marks instead of a period at the end. 

Identify Type of Dissertation or Thesis 

  • For an unpublished dissertation or thesis (available only in print from a college or university) label as [Unpublished doctoral dissertation] or [Unpublished master's thesis]. 
  • For a published dissertation or thesis label as [Doctoral dissertation, Name of University] or [Master's thesis, Name of University].   

Name of Institution 

  • The name of the instruction will appear with the type of dissertation or thesis (if published) or as the place where the dissertation or thesis is housed (if unpublished). 

Database Publication 

  • If published, include the name of the database publishing the dissertation or thesis 

Online Publication Not in a Database 

  • If published online but not in a database, include the web address /URL 
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  1. PDF APA Style Dissertation Guidelines: Formatting Your Dissertation

    tutorials under the "Resources for Writing Your Dissertation" tab. APA Style, 7 th Edition: A Brief Overview This section provides a very brief overview of APA Style formatting. For more thorough information about APA Style, 7 th edition, please refer to Appendix A (on page 11) of this guide for additional APA resources. Headings

  2. APA Style 7th Ed.

    The 7th edition of Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association was created by the American Psychological Assocation (APA), and contains the complete guidelines on how to format material for publication and cite your research.It is a set of style rules that codifies the components of scientific writing in order to deliver concise and bias free information to the reader.

  3. How to Cite a Dissertation in APA Style

    To cite an unpublished dissertation (one you got directly from the author or university in print form), add "Unpublished" to the bracketed description, and list the university at the end of the reference, outside the square brackets. APA format. Author last name, Initials. ( Year ).

  4. Thesis/Dissertation

    Thesis, from a commercial database. Lope, M. D. (2014). Perceptions of global mindedness in the international baccalaureate middle years programme: The relationship to student academic performance and teacher characteristics (Order No. 3682837) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland].ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

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    Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines: Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides. Double-space all text, including headings. Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches. Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.).

  6. APA Formatting and Style Guide (7th Edition)

    Basic guidelines for formatting the reference list at the end of a standard APA research paper Author/Authors Rules for handling works by a single author or multiple authors that apply to all APA-style references in your reference list, regardless of the type of work (book, article, electronic resource, etc.)

  7. PDF Publication Manual, 7th Edition Student Paper Checklist

    This checklist corresponds to the writing and formatting guidelines described in full in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Refer to the following chapters for specific information: paper elements and format in Chapter 2. writing style and grammar in Chapter 4. bias-free language in Chapter 5.

  8. APA 7 Formatting: Step-By-Step Guide + Free Template

    Structure and Layout. Let's start by looking at the overall structure of a student paper formatted for APA 7th edition, before diving into the details of each section. APA requires that your paper follows a very specific, standardised structure, consisting of the following parts:. The title page: this will include the title of your paper, as well as a subtitle (if required by your university).

  9. Formatting your Dissertation in APA Style

    CEHHS uses the current version of the APA Publication Manual (7th edition) for all matters of format with the exception of some particular requirements for the Title page, pagination (especially of front matter) and top margins. Unless otherwise stated in the CEHHS Ed.D. Dissertation Guide below, defer to APA 7th edition.

  10. Published Dissertation or Thesis References

    The same format can be adapted for other published theses, including undergraduate theses, by changing the wording of the bracketed description as appropriate (e.g., "Undergraduate honors thesis"). Include a URL for the dissertation or thesis if the URL will resolve for readers (as shown in the Miranda and Zambrano-Vazquez examples).

  11. Dissertation & SPP Formatting

    If you are on this tab, you have probably been asked to format a dissertation or Scholarly Practice Project paper using APA format. Use the below information to help you format the different pieces of your paper. Please check with your academic department to see if they have an official dissertation/SPP format template for your program.

  12. Paper format

    To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments. The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create ...

  13. Dissertation layout and formatting

    Revised on February 20, 2019. The layout requirements for a dissertation are often determined by your supervisor or department. However, there are certain guidelines that are common to almost every program, such as including page numbers and a table of contents. If you are writing a paper in the MLA citation style, you can use our MLA format guide.

  14. Dissertations or Theses

    When a dissertation or thesis is unpublished, include the description "[Unpublished doctoral dissertation]" or "[Unpublished master's thesis]" in square brackets after the dissertation or thesis title. In the source element of the reference, provide the name of the institution that awarded the degree. Pattern: Author, A. A. (year).

  15. Thesis/Dissertation

    Provide guidance on the APA format style based on the 6th edition of the APA Publication Manual. Basics of APA Formatting; In Text Citations Toggle Dropdown. In Text Quick View ; ... Title of dissertation or thesis (Unpublished doctoral dissertation or master's thesis). Name of Institution, Location.

  16. How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA

    Citing a published dissertation or thesis from a database. If a thesis or dissertation has been published and is found on a database, then follow the structure below. It's similar to the format for an unpublished dissertation/thesis, but with a few differences: Structure: Author's last name, F. M. (Year published).

  17. Sample papers

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    Thesis or Dissertation Title. Italicize the title. The first word of the title and subtitle is capitalized as are proper nouns but all other words are lowercase. If a title ends with a question mark or exclamation point, use those punctuation marks instead of a period at the end. Identify Type of Dissertation or Thesis.

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  20. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates. Published on June 7, 2022 by Tegan George.Revised on November 21, 2023. A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process.It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding the specifics of your dissertation topic and showcasing its relevance to ...

  21. APA Sample Paper

    Cite your source automatically in MLA or APA format. Cite. Using citation machines responsibly. Powered by. Media File: APA Sample Paper. This resource is enhanced by an Acrobat PDF file. Download the free Acrobat Reader. Click this link to download the PDF handout of the APA Sample Paper.

  22. PDF Student Paper Setup Guide, APA Style 7th Edition

    Indent the first line of every paragraph of text 0.5 in. using the tab key or the paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program. Page numbers: Put a page number in the top right corner of every page, including the title page or cover page, which is page 1. Student papers do not require a running head on any page.

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    Paragraph indentation. Indent the first line of each paragraph of text 0.5 in. from the left margin. Use the tab key or the automatic paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program to achieve the indentation (the default setting is likely already 0.5 in.). Do not use the space bar to create indentation.