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Dissertation and Thesis Format Review: Format Review Tips


These tips from Adler's format reviewers will help you avoid the most common APA formatting errors.



  • Do not place parentheses back to back (Section 6.8). Separate the items with a semicolon.
  • Do not use citations in the Abstract. The Abstract is a summary of your study to help the reader understand what is to come.
  • United States is abbreviated as U.S. only when used as an adjective: (e.g., U.S. Navy but in the United States). This abbreviation does not have to be explained.
  • Names of theories or disorders are not capitalized unless a proper name (e.g., trademarked).
  • Watch for anthropomorphism (i.e., assigning human traits to animals or inanimate objects, such as a study; Section 4.11).
  • Add spaces within ellipses (i.e., change … to . . . ).
  • Each appendix should be referenced in the text. Refer to appendices in order (i.e., the first mention should be for Appendix A, then Appendix B, etc.).

Section headings should not be labelled with letters or numbers. Level 1 headings should be centered, bold, and in title case. Level 2 headings should be flush left, bold, and in title case. Level 3 headings should be flush left, bold, in title case, and italicized.



Level 1 Heading

            Text starts here.

Level 2 Heading

            Text starts here.

Level 3 Heading

            Text starts here.

            Level 4 Heading. Text starts here.

            Level 5 Heading. Text starts here.

Generally, spell out numbers less than 10 and use numerals for numbers 10 and above. 

Numerals (rather than spelled-out numbers) are use for the following:

  • Numbers 10 and above.
  • Numbers in the abstract of a paper.
  • Numbers that immediately precede a unit of measurement: a 5-mg dose, 10.54 cm
  • Numbers that represent statistics or mathematical functions: multiplied by 5, 3 times as many, 5%.
  • Numbers that represent time, dates, ages, scores and points on a scale, exact sums of money, and numerals as numerals: 1 hr. 34 min, 12:30 a.m., 2-year-olds, scored 4 on a 7-point scale.
  • Numbers that denote a specific place in a numbered series, parts of books and tables, and each number in a list of four or more numbers”: Grade 8 (but the eighth grade), Table 3, row 5, Chapter 1
  • Numerals are never used at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Numerals regarding school grades are a bit tricky. Use Grade 8 but eighth grade. Use eighth-grade teacher but eighth grader. Use numerals when preceded by the word grade (e.g., Grades 2–5). 
  • Use first initials in text citations to distinguish between two different sources when the first authors have same last name (e.g., L. W. Howard, 2000; R. Howard & Jones, 2006), even if the year of publication differs (Section 8.20).
  • Remove the year from subsequent nonparenthetical citations in the same paragraph. Always include the year in parenthetical citations (Section 8.16).
  • Use past tense when referring to other authors’ work (e.g., in the literature review) as well as your study (for a final CRP/Dissertation).
  • The spelling of the author’s name and the date in the in-text citation and the reference list must match exactly.
  • All citations for a source with three or more authors shorten to et al. (with some exceptions). Do not place a comma after the author name and before et al.
  • Each table and figure must be referred to in the text. Refer to tables and figures in order.
  • Tables and figures now use a similar format. Do not place a period after the table/figure number. Table/figure numbers and titles should be double spaced. Table/figure numbers and titles are now placed above the table/figure. The number should be bold and the title should be in italics.

Table/Figure 1

Table/Figure Title Goes Here

  • Include Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) for electronic articles and documents. Do not place a period after the doi and do not hyperlink. The correct doi formatting is:
  • APA 7 does not include “Retrieved from” before URLs.
  • APA 7 does not include a publisher location.
  • Journals should include the volume and issue number as well as a page range.
  • Add a space between author initials.
  • Do not abbreviate journal names (there are a few exceptions; e.g., JAMA and PLOS).
  • APA 7 includes up to and including 20 author names (APA 9.8).