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November 11, 2010

Running Head Format for APA Style Papers


Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

If you've ever been confused by what a running head is or wondered how to format one for an APA Style paper, read on. 

What Is a Running Head?

A running head is a short title that appears at the top of every page of your paper in the page header. The running head identifies the pages for the reader in case they get separated, and if you submit your paper for publication, it does this while preserving your anonymity during the review process (that is why the running head is a short title and not your name). In published articles the running head also identifies the article for the reader at a glance.

The length of the running head should be 50 characters or fewer, including spaces and other punctuation marks. If your paper title is already 50 characters or fewer, you can use the paper title as the running head. Otherwise, you can shorten your paper title however you want. Here is an example: 

Paper title:

What Do Undergraduates Learn About Human Intelligence? An Analysis of Introductory Psychology Textbooks

 

Running head:

UNDERGRADUATE LEARNING ABOUT INTELLIGENCE

Formatting Instructions

The running head appears in the header of every page along with the page number. (The header by nature is situated within the top margin of your paper; all the margins themselves should be set to 1 inch.) On the first page of the paper only, the running head is preceded by the words Running head and a colon. On all other pages, just the running head itself and the page number appear, without the label Running head:.

These requirements mean you will probably need to set your word-processing program to have a different header on the first page. If you use APA Style CENTRAL to write your papers, the page header and running head will be formatting automatically for you.

If you use Microsoft Word to write your papers, you will have to take a few steps to get a different first page header. The basic premise in Microsoft Word is that you will click into the header of the paper, go to the Header & Footer Tools menu, and then click "Different First Page." 

Running head setup

Once you have set your paper to have a different first page header in Microsoft Word, follow these directions to set up the header on the first page of the paper: 

  • Add a page number using the automatic page numbering function.
  • Put the page number in the upper right-hand corner.
  • In the header, type the label Running head: (not in italic, with only the "R" capitalized), and then type the running head itself in all capital letters, making sure it is no longer than 50 characters (including spaces and other punctuation).
  • Place the cursor between the end of the running head and the page number and hit the tab key to left justify the running head while leaving the page number right justified.
  • If necessary, change the font in the header to 12-point Times New Roman. 

The first page header will look like this: 

The header of a Microsoft Word document, page 1

 

On the second page of the paper, repeat the process of inserting the page number and running head into the page header, except do not include the label Running head. The header on the second and subsequent pages will look like this:

The header of a Microsoft Word document, page 2

The page header should now be correctly formatted for APA Style on all pages of your paper. You can also see examples of the running head format in our APA Style sample papers.

Other Directions and Running Head Template

The screenshots in this post are from Word 2016; if you are using another version of Microsoft Word, follow these directions from Microsoft to set up the header. If you use other word-processing software, please feel free to share links or instructions in the comments. 

I've also created a running head template for Word you can download that has the running head set up for you already.

 

Please note this post has been updated as of May 9, 2018, to include instructions for newer versions of Microsoft Word as well as to show more examples and provide a template.

If you've ever been confused by what a running head is or wondered how to format one for an APA Style paper, read on.

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