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How to write an ASA style paper

December 06, 2017 Standard Essay Format
How to write an ASA style paper

When you write an ASA paper, you have to follow a certain bibliographical format. The essay must include a title page, an abstract, in-text citations and a reference page.

Table Of Contents

General Format

General format consists of the following rules:

  • Clear font. Recommended: Times New Roman 12pt font
    double spaced
  • 1 1/4” margins
  • Insert a page number on the right
  • You need to include a title page
  • ASA format papers include subheadings.

ASA Style Paper Format

Title Page

The title page of your essay should have the full title, the author’s name(s) and institution(s). You should also include a word count of your document (including footnotes and references).


The abstract is not mandatory, but if it is required, it should be on a separate page following the title page. It should be a paragraph of 150-200 words in length. The abstract summarizes your research. On the same page as the abstract, include 3-5 keywords.

ASA Format In-Text Citations

  • If the author's name is already mentioned previously in the text, then you should use a reference for just the year of publication within parentheses.
  • Example: Geary states that Mastery Learning discourages students from completing satisfactory work (2003).
  • You should include the author's name in the parentheses if the text does not mention it prior.
  • Example: There is a belief that Mastery Learning hinders children’s ability to complete satisfactory work (Geary 2003).
  • Page numbers should be in the parentheses after the year of publication. A colon separates the year and the page number with no spaces in between.
  • Example: It is because of the constricted grade boundaries. (Geary 2003:13).
  • If a source has multiple authors, you should cite them with an ‘and’ between their last names.
  • Example: The issue is in the fact that students can get away with the least amount of effort, disregard deadlines, and disrespect the curriculum’s positive attributes. (Geary and Feekins 2003:13)
  • If multiple sources cite the same quotation or statement, the author and publication year should be separated by a semicolon.
  • Example: Mastery Learning is the holy grail for procrastinators, slackers, and underachievers and is the primal curse for students who value education. (Geary 2003; Grist 2016)

Reference Page

The ASA style citation looks much like the APA style with a few deviations. Here is how to cite the most common types of references:

  • How to Cite Books: Author [Last, First]. Year of Publication. Title. Country of Publisher: Publisher.
  • Example: James, Henry. 2003. The Turn of the Screw. New York: Barns & Noble Books.
  • How to Cite E-Books: Author [Last, First]. Year of Publication. Title. Country of Publisher: Publisher. Retrieved Month Day, Year {link}.
  • Example: James, Henry. 2003. The Turn of the Screw. New York: Penguin Books Kindle Version. Retrieved January 18, 2017. {link}
  • How to Cite a Journal Article: Author [Last, First]. Year of Publication. "Title." Journal Name issue #: inclusive page numbers.
  • Example: Feekins, Bo. 2008. “Chasing Tree Frogs”. National Geographic #182. 6-10
  • How to Cite a Magazine Article: Author Last, First. Year of Pub. "Title." Magazine Name, Month Year, pp. Inclusive page numbers.
  • Example: Geary, Rachel. 2012. “The Issue with Mastery Learning”. New York Times, April 2002. pp. 15-23.
  • How to Cite a Web Page ASA Style: Author [Last, First.] Date of Publishing. Title. Publisher. Retrieved Month Day, Year {link}.
  • Example: Lee, Bruce. 03.09.2004. Birth of a Nation. Retrieved 18.01.2017. {link}

Reference Page Format

Your reference page should begin with a header titled “References” without quotation marks, italics, or a bold face. All references should be:

  • Double spaced
  • Have a hanging indent
  • All titles should be capitalized (except for prepositions, articles, and conjunctions)
  • Listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name
  • Include first names of all authors (in full)
  • List ALL authors who contributed to the work (et al. not acceptable)


When writing an ASA style paper, you should use subheadings to organize the body of your paper. There are three different kinds of headings:

  • The First Level Heading
  • Usually written in all-caps
  • On the left of the paper
  • No bold font, italics, or underline
  • The Second Level Heading
  • Italicize
  • Capitalize every word of the heading
  • No bold font, caps, or underline
  • The third level head
  • Italicize
  • Only capitalize the first word of the heading
  • No bold, caps, or underline


Footnotes are useful for expanding upon certain tangents or adding extra information to an image or a table. In the ASA writing style, footnotes should be listed in a consecutive order throughout the essay with numbers as a subscript.

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

ASA citation style is a very handy guide for sociology papers. However, sometimes many people confuse the ASA with the APA, as psychology could be a branch of sociology. Make sure you know which one your instructor prefers for you to use before you embark on your writing process. The ASA format, much like APA and MLA, has in-text citations. It also has a References section at the end of the paper where all of the sources are listed. As the article states, each in-text citation should be linked to an entry in the references page. Don’t let the similarities between ASA and APA catch you off guard! For example in the ASA format, an abstract is not mandatory, so if your instructor doesn’t explicitly state that you need it, clarify it with them or don’t include it, as it will be extra. In the ASA format style, you can also utilize footnotes and endnotes like in the Chicago style.

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