Distinguishing between numerous sections and sub-heading levels through differences in text format can help establish hierarchy and guide readers through a lengthy document. APA has very specific guidelines for each subhead level that need to be followed consistently. See the example below.

APA Subtitle Levels Helpful Tips:

  • Chapter numbers and titles should be formatted according to IUP's Thesis-Dissertation Manual, and as such, do not count as a level of subhead in APA.
  • Section titles must match exactly, word for word, between the Table of Contents and the body (including punctuation and capitalization).
  • Section titles must be in Title Case both in the Table of Contents and the body. Any (proper) nouns and words of four letters or more.
  • A document should not include a subhead level without having a level above it previously in the document's hierarchy (i.e. do not have a level one and then skip to a level three).
  • Do not have empty subheads (i.e. a level one heading with no body text that leads directly to a level two heading below it).
  • APA provides for five levels of subheads; a document that requires more levels should perhaps be reorganized.