3 posts categorized "Running heads"

May 10, 2012

Mysteries of the Running Head Explained

Jeffby Jeff Hume-Pratuch

The running head is one of the smallest parts of a manuscript, yet it seems to cause big problems for some. In previous posts, we’ve given an overview of the running head and how to format it, but recently we’ve received some new questions that have folks scratching their heads.

What Is the Running Head?

The running head is a shortened form of the title of your paper that appears  in  uppercase letters at the top left of each page of your manuscript. It helps to identify the pages of your paper and keep them together (without using your name, in case you’re submitting it for blind review). When your paper is published, this short title will appear at the top of each odd-numbered page.

On the title page of your manuscript, the label “Running head:” precedes the running head itself. It’s there to let the typesetter know that this shortened title is, in fact, the running head for your article. (This is a holdover from the fifth edition of the APA Publication Manual, which required a “manuscript page header” on every page as well as a running head on the title page.)

How Long Should the Running Head Be?

The running head should be a brief version of the title of your paper, no more than 50 characters long (including spaces). The label “Running head:” that precedes the running head on the title page is not included in the 50-character count, because it’s not part of the title of your paper. (Unless, of course, the title of your paper is something like “Running Head: Feature or Bug?”)

What Makes For a Good Running Head?

It’s usually not a good idea to simply copy the first 50 characters of your title. The running head needs to both make sense as a phrase and give some idea of what your paper is about.

Pop quiz: If the title of your paper is “A Review and Meta-Analysis of the First Decade of Articles About the Psychology of Llamas,” which would be a more informative running head?
(a)    A REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS OF THE FIRST DECADE OF
or
(b)    REVIEW OF THE PSYCHOLOGY OF LLAMAS

Where Does the Running Head Go?

Use the automatic header feature of your word processing program to set the running head at the top left of the page. Don’t worry about the running head’s precise distance from the top of the page or relationship to the margin; the default setting for your software is fine.

For more about the running head, see the APA Publication Manual (6th ed., pp. 229–230).

May 26, 2011

A Marginal Note

More Tales from the Style Expert Inbox

.rev2 by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

Dear Style Expert,

I would like a clarification about the margins for an APA Style paper. The APA Publication Manual (6th ed.) says to “leave uniform margins of at least 1 in. (2.54 cm) at the top, bottom, left, and right of every page” (p. 229). I believe the correct thing to do is to space 1 in. at the top margin, then single space down and insert the running head. Some of my students are using a ½ in. margin for the top of the page, then single spacing down to type in the header, followed by a double space where the text of the paper begins. Who is right here? A lot of grades are riding on this.

—Inquiring Instructor

Dear Inquiring,

Typist Unless you’re teaching at Luddite State (where manual typewriters are a must), no one should be “spacing down” anything. The APA Publication Manual (6th ed.) does direct authors to use a 1-in. margin (p. 229), but it also directs them to “use the automatic functions of your word-processing program to generate headers” (p. 230). That means there’s no need to adjust the spacing around the header—it’s automatic!

Just set your margins at 1 in. (2.54 cm) and use the default setting for headers in your word-processing program. Voila! Your paper is correctly formatted in APA Style.


Dear Style Expert,

Now my whole study group is extremely confused, because your instructions seem to contradict the sample papers in the Publication Manual. It looks like there is more margin at the top of sample p. 4 than sample p. 3, and some of the pages are cut off at the bottom. What gives?
—Going Cross-Eyed in Cincinnati

Dear Cross-Eyed,

The sample papers are illustrations, not scale models. Just enough of each page is shown to illustrate the rules that are called out in the attached boxes. They’re not intended to show every point of APA Style, however, and you certainly can’t deduce margin guidelines from them. Fortunately, those guidelines are clearly stated on pp. 229–230 of the Publication Manual. If there ever appears to be a contradiction between an illustration and the text, follow the text.


Dear Style Expert,

Why, that’s crazy talk! A margin is empty space. If you have a 1-in. margin, then there should be 1 in. of empty space at the top of the page, with no headers in it.

—Marginal Maniac


Dear Marginal,

Think of it this way: The margin is, by definition, the part of a page outside the main body of text. The running head (again, by definition) is not part of the main body of text. Therefore, it is included in the margin, not below it.

Got a Question?

If you have a question (marginal or otherwise) about APA Style that hasn’t been answered yet, post it in the comments here. We’ll do our best to demystify it for you!

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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