Level 1 is the most important or highest level of heading. Level 2 is a subsection of Level 1, and so on through Levels 4 and 5. The sixth edition of this advice has been amended. The number of headers that should be used in a document is determined by the length and complexity of the material. For example, a page of background information would use up to five levels of heading.
In addition to these rules about levels of heading, your instructor may have other requirements for you to meet. If this is the case, your instructor will tell you what those requirements are.
It is important to note that articles do not need to be in levels 1-6. An article that is only level 7 can still comply with APA guidelines as long as it is well organized. Your instructor will be able to tell you whether or not you need to organize your thoughts and content into sections or not. If you present all relevant information and provide enough context to help readers understand the material, then you have complied with the requirements of your audience.
There are two types of headsings: formal and informal. Formal headings should be used to structure materials and ensure that everything in the text has a clear place. These include chapter titles, section headings, and subheadings. Informal headings are used to identify ideas within the text and to guide the reader through the material.
Use Level 1 if just one level of heading is required. Levels 1 and 2 should be used if two levels of heading are required. Levels 1, 2, and 3 should be used whenever three levels of heading are required (and so on).
Headings help readers find information quickly by giving them a brief overview of the topic. Using too few headings may leave out important information, while using more headings than necessary increases the word count without adding value. The best number of levels to use depends on the length of the paper and the type of material being presented.
Generally, for papers shorter than 5 pages, only one level of heading is sufficient. As papers become longer, additional levels are useful for breaking down the content into sections.
It is acceptable to use up to three levels of headings per page. However, multiple levels on one page slows down reading. Therefore, it is recommended to keep the number of levels below two per page.
There are five levels of heading in APA Style. Level 3 headings are used to provide a short title for a section of text.
Levels 1 through 5 should be typed in the Reference list along with the corresponding number from the text. For example, if the reference list contains these entries: "Marx, Karl [1818-1883]", "Engels, Friedrich [1820-1895]", "Lassalle, Ferdinand [1825-1864]", "Mill, John Stuart [1779-1836]", "Whewell, William [1794-1866]" then the body of the paper should also include these headings: "1: Marx (Karl [1818-1883])" etc.
The best way to learn about using Headings in your papers is by writing some papers!
In the Introduction, there is a Level 2 heading. Use at least two subsection heads within a section, or don't use any at all (e.g., in an outline, a section numbered with a Roman numeral would be divided into either a minimum of A and B subsections or no subsections; an A subsection would not stand alone). These sections may be conceptual rather than chronological.
Level 2 headings are for general topics or major points that can be returned to later in the text or research paper. They are indicated by a single horizontal line under which is typed a brief description of the topic. For example: "Intro-Psychology, History of Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, Cognitive Psychologies, Behavioral Psychologies."
The first level heading in this case is "Introduction" and the second is a subheading of it "Psychology as a Science." Levels 3 through 10 can also be used but only if necessary. There should be enough detail provided by the main topic heading to understand what the rest of the text is about.
Level 2 headings help the reader navigate through your text more easily. However, they should not replace more specific headings such as subtitles and chapter titles. Using levels 1 and 2 headings excessively can therefore cause confusion as well as clutter up the page.
When should you use which APA heading level? Subsections beneath level 1 are assigned to heading level 2. For instance, under "Methods" (level 1), there may be subsections for "Sampling Method" and "Data Analysis" (level 2). This is carried on all the way down to head level 5. Always include at least two subheadings, if not more. They can be of any length.
Subheads are useful for visually breaking up long papers or chapters. They can also provide a quick guide to the content. In general, use subheads only for organizational purposes, but not every sentence needs an header tag. The formatting of your subheads will depend on how you style your paper. Most word processors have some kind of tagging feature that allows you to mark text as a subheading. When typing your paper, ensure that each sentence has a tag showing where it fits into the hierarchy.
Here are some examples of good subheadings: Energy Resources and Efficiency (level 1); Renewable Energy Sources (level 2); Oil, Gas, and Coal (level 3); Nuclear Power (level 4); Carbon Dioxide Emissions (level 5).
Poorly formatted subheads are difficult to read. Use the edit menu in your word processor to change the appearance of these tags. It is okay if some words are capitalized while others are not. Only put sentences in headers; don't write essays or articles in header form.