Headings and their subheadings are a fundamental way to enhance readability of the complex manuscript of a dissertation or thesis. As an organizing feature, headings provide both a visual map and rhetorical guide for your reader. In fact, the dense document would become unwieldy without these supports. As a “map,” headings create relationships within the texts. Rhetorically, headings support writers as they navigate from idea to idea without relying on transitional sentences or connecting material.
APA provides guidelines for academic papers and professional articles, but the dissertation is a book-length manuscript with individual chapters. Each chapter is considered more or less a distinct unit with its unique purpose. At AU, we regard individual chapters as separate sections, and then subsequent texts are organized within that framework. Hierarchies are positioned and styled as follows:
CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Level I subheading, Centered, Bold, Uppercase & Lowercase
Level 2 Subheading, Flush Left, Bold, Uppercase & Lowercase
Level 3 subheading, Flush Left, bold italic, Title Case Text continues on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.
Level 4 subheading, bold indented, Title Case Heading, ending with a period. Text continues on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.
Level 5 subheading, indented, bold italics, Title Case Heading, ending with a period. Text continues on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.
- Chapter numbers (in Roman numerals) and titles are considered section “headers” and do not count as a subheading. Centered, bold, all caps.
- All new chapters begin on new page.
- Level subheadings must continue in hierarchical order; that is, you do not go from level one to level three.
- Use the automated heading feature in Microsoft Word will ensure accuracy with the table of contents. Be sure to update the table of contents whenever you make any changes to the text. And speaking of the Table of Contents, the Table includes only those sections that have a developed discussion of more than a couple paragraphs; for example, including 2nd or 3rd level headings that have single paragraphs need not be included in the Table of Contents.
- Please note that an acronym should never be used or introduced in a heading. Acronyms should always occur in the text following the relevant heading.