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Using The APA Dissertation Format: 7 Things You Should Remember

There are several possible common dissertation formats, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago. And there are dozens of formats that are very specific to particular disciplines, especially in the sciences. But APA format is a good standard for the social sciences, general sciences, and interdisciplinary topics. Follow these 7 tips to make the process much easier for you:

  1. Formatting a paper with the scale of a dissertation can be a major undertaking, but the more you do correctly from the start, the less you will have to fix at the end. So put in some time as you begin your research to understand what is required by APA, and start formatting your reference and in text citations correctly from the start.
  2. There are two major components to APA format for a dissertation: the paper layout format and the reference citation format.
  3. You should have a running header throughout your paper that includes the paper title and the page number. The page number should be flush to the right page margin, and the paper title should be in all caps flush with the left paper margin. You may need to used an abbreviated paper title if you have one that is too long to fit in one line in the header box with the page number.
  4. Use the correct in text citations from the beginning. It is easy to get lazy about it and use short hand or incomplete citations as you write, especially when you are using the same citation over and over again. But it will take you much longer to have to go back and correct all of them than it will for you to use the correct one from the beginning.
  5. Try using a reference management software to keep all your sources and export their reference citations into your bibliography. They can be expensive, but you may be able to get a free or discounted copy through your university. There are also free options like Zotero. They will save you a lot of time in the long run.
  6. Break your paper into sections with heading to make it more approachable for the reader. It will also help you to organize your own thoughts as you write, and to match your paper to your outline if you use one.
  7. When in doubt, check your citations. You can do this by searching for other papers that have also cited them. This will help you to ensure that you have the complete information available for them.

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