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How to Do Headings and Seriations in APA Style

by | Jan 26, 2021 | Academic Writing

Information is taken from the 7th edition Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, latest version, 2022. 

Unlike most other academic format styles, APA has very particular rules for headings and seriations, because they are prevalent in APA papers. Headings and seriations help organize APA papers in a way that makes them easy to navigate. Luckily, the rules aren’t too complicated, so this breakdown should be all you need to get going on a great essay!

APA Style Headings

Headings are incredibly crucial in APA Style essays, because they separate each element of the paper, breaking information up so that it’s easier to digest. 

Here are five levels of headings in APA style:

seriations in apa style

Here is an example of what each of these headings will look like when used in an APA Style Essay:

seriations in apa style

Note that you will never have to use a heading for your introductory paragraph. You should always start with a level 1 heading and then move your way down the list, going as far as the organization and separation of your paper require.

APA Style Seriations

Seriations are very helpful in APA papers, because they allow you to list critical points in whichever format works best for that information. Lists can make it easier for your readers to consume the information you’re presenting in your essay, which is a big relief for papers that include tons of data and detailed information.

For lists that need to be presented in a specific order, you can use Arabic numerals that are immediately followed by a period:

  1. First point on the list.
  2. Second point on the list.
  3. Third point on the list.

For lists that have no particular order, you can use bullet points to organize your information:

  • First point on the list.
  • Second point on the list.
  • Third point on the list.

Stick to a simple circle or square bullet point for these lists. Avoid stars, spades, or any other shapes or symbols.

You can also list your points in paragraph form:

This can be useful for information that appears all in one sentence such as (a) the first point on the list; (b) the second point on the list; (c) the third point on the list; (d) the fourth point on the list; (e) the fifth point on the list.


Headings and seriations are super handy for APA papers, so knowing how to format their different types will make writing your essay easier! Just remember to start with level 1 headings, then work your way down, and take advantage of seriations when it benefits your essay organization and layout!

Emmi Conner
By Emmi Conner

Emmi holds a BFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She’s been published in Adelaide Literary Magazine, and Atlantis Magazine. Emmi has written multiple articles for Writer’s Hive in the academic section with topics about MLA, APA, and Chicago Style essay writing.


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