ASA Format: Easy Guide for Your Essay or Paper With Examples

The English American Sociology Association (ASA) developed a formatting style that allows scholars to use parenthetical in-text citations. In particular, the ASA formatting style remains relevant in social science. Moreover, this guide contains applicable rules that one must follow when formatting ASA essays, papers, and manuscripts. Basically, ASA guidelines reveal that one must include a cover page, abstract, and body in each paper. Firstly, an abstract should provide a clear summary of the essential points. Then, writers organize ASA format papers into different sections by using three acceptable headings levels. Besides, one should include and acknowledge supporting evidence. In this case, each in-text citation must include the author and publication date. Also, tables and images contain compelling details that may be used to validate arguments. In turn, these visuals should appear on a separate page at the end of an essay, research paper, or manuscript. Finally, a reference list should contain all sources quoted, and such articles are organized in alphabetical or chronological order. 

General Guidelines on ASA Format

The English American Sociology Association (ASA) is an acceptable style used to format an essay or research paper in sociology. In this case, students pursuing courses in sociological sciences must use ASA to format their papers correctly. Basically, ASA formatting refers to the scholar’s editorial and mechanics styles, guidelines for organizing and presenting content, and referencing reliable sources. Then, students should follow a specific bibliographic style to foster clear communication in their work. In turn, failing to use ASA correctly may put a written paper in a position of discrediting or delayed acknowledgments and student’s career development. Hence, this guide provides exact steps that one must follow when formatting sociology essays and research papers in ASA.

ASA format

How to Format a Title Page in ASA

1. Header

ASA formatting style requires one to use headers that include the work’s full title. Basically, if the manuscript’s title exceeds sixty characters, one should use its short form. Also, headings should include page numbers, which appear as Arabic numerals. In turn, one should flush all the page numbers to the left.

2. Credentials

ASA formatting style requires learners to include adequate details to identify the work and the writer. In particular, papers formatted in ASA must consist of the manuscript’s title, author’s names, and institution. Basically, writers should list these details vertically if there is more than one. Then, other details include a complete word count of a written document. In practice, the word count should include footnotes and references used in a paper. In rare cases, scholars may include a correct address. As a rule, one must center all the details.   

3. Title

ASA formatting style requires authors to include the manuscript’s full title. In this case, scholars should consider using a short but clear title that summarizes a research paper. Also, a long title may obstruct the intended meaning of a study, which makes it sound vague. In turn, one must bold the paper’s title.

How to Format an Abstract Page in ASA

An abstract should appear separately after a title page and contain a concise summary of the work in 150 or 200 words. Basically, students must use accessible language that allows readers to understand the primary message of a study. Also, writers should include keywords that reflect the main points of a paper. Then, an abstract should appear in the document’s second page below a complete title. In this case, one should not use the term “abstract” above the summary provided. As a rule, all the sentences in an abstract must begin at the left margin. Moreover, authors should not indent the abstract’s first line. In turn, keywords, which include several essential terms, must follow the abstract’s content. Hence, one should use the word “Keywords” followed by a full colon before writing actual terms.

How to Format In-Text Citations in ASA

ASA formatting style requires the student to support main arguments by using credible sources. Basically, writers must use in-text citations when presenting information from any source. In this case, one must state the author’s last name and the cited material’s initial publishing date as a rule. Moreover, students may come across different types of sources when gathering evidence for supporting the main arguments. Hence, guiding principles that one should follow when developing in-text citations are:

1. Unknown and Different Numbers of Authors

In-text citations for sources that lack an author must include adequate identification details. In this case, in-text citations for such sources should contain titles and publication dates. Moreover, the source’s title should appear in a title case where all major words must begin with a capital letter. However, one should not capitalize prepositions and conjunctions. Hence, familiar phrases that should start with lower case letters include:

  • Prepositions – “of,” “between,” and “though.”
  • Articles – “a,” “the,” and “an.”
  • Conjunctions – “by,” “and,” and “or.”

Students may begin to type words given above with capital letters if they start a sentence. Hence, ASA format of in-text citations that do not have a specific author are:

  • Parenthetical in-text citation – (The Evolution of Field Artillery Organization and Employment during the American Civil War 1993) 
  • Narrative in-text citation – The data evidence obtained from The Evolution of Field Artillery Organization and Employment during the American Civil War (1993) reveals that … .

Other articles may have several authors. In this case, ASA formatting style requires scholars to follow specific guidelines when citing such sources inside the document’s text. Hence, strategies that one must follow when preparing citations for sources that contain different numbers of authors are: 

2. Citing One Author in ASA Format

In-text citations for a source that contains one author may appear as parenthetical or narrative. In this case, in-text citations should include the author’s surname and publication date. Besides, space must separate these two details. Hence, ASA format and examples of in-text citations for a single author are:

  • Citing scheme – (Author’s Surname Year).
  • Parenthetical in-text citation – (Arnold 2004).
  • Narrative in-text citation – Arnold (2004) affirms that … .

3. Referencing Two Authors is ASA Format

In-text citations for sources containing two authors should include their surnames. In this case, the term “and” should separate two names. Then, other essential details include the actual publication date for a source. Moreover, one should use spaces to separate all the details in this in-text citation. Hence, relevant examples of in-text citations for two authors are:

  • Citing scheme – (First Author’s Last Name and Second Author’s Surname Year).
  • Parenthetical in-text citation – (Viray and Nash 2014).
  • Narrative in-text citation – Viray and Nash (2014) noted that … .

4. Three Authors

In-text citations must include the surnames of three authors. In this case, one should use a comma after the first and second surnames. Besides, students should use the word “and” to separate the last two surnames. However, space should separate the third surname and publication date. Hence, relevant examples for citing three authors are:

  • Citing scheme – (First Author, Second Author, and Third Author Year).
  • Parenthetical in-text citation – (Carr, Smith, and Jones 1962).
  • Narrative in-text citation – Carr, Smith, and Jones (1962) notes that… .

Writers should include three surnames for the first in-text citation. However, subsequent in-text citations must use the first author’s surname and the phrase “et al.” In this case, one must include a period after the words “et al.” for a source to meet the credit requirements. Hence, relevant examples of subsequent in-text citations for sources that contain three authors are:

  • Citing scheme – (First Author’s Surname et al. year).
  • Parenthetical in-text citation – (Carr et al. 1962).
  • Narrative in-text citation – Carr et al. (1962) state that … .

5. More Than Three Authors

In-text citations for sources containing more than three authors should include the first author’s surname only. For instance, scholars use the phrase “et al.” instead of the other scholars’ names. Basically, this rule applies to first and subsequent in-text citations. Hence, relevant examples of in-text citations that contain more than three authors are:

  • Citing scheme – (First Author’s Surname et al. year).
  • Parenthetical in-text citation – (Nilson et al. 1962).
  • Narrative in-text citation – Nilson et al. (1962) notes that … .

6. Citing an Article Title or an Organization Name in ASA Format

For sources authored by institutions, one should supply the minimum identification required for in-text citations. In this case, students should include the institutional author, publication date, and page number for quotes. Hence, ASA format for a source that covers a corporate author is:

  • Citing scheme – (Corporate Author or “Article Title” Year).
  • Parenthetical in-text citation – (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1963).
  • Narrative in-text citation – The data given by the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1963) reveals that … .

7. Citing More Two or More Sources in ASA Format

In-text citations may contain more than one source. In this case, writers may find similar evidence from multiple sources. Moreover, credible in-text citations should identify authors and years of publication of all the references. In turn, one should use a semicolon to separate scholarly sources. Hence, relevant examples of citing two or more sources in a single sentence are:

  • Citing scheme – (First Source; Second Source; Third Source).
  • Parenthetical in-text citation – (Arnold, 2004; U.S. Bureau of the Census 1963; Carr, Smith, and Jones 1962).

8. Including Pages, Paragraphs, and Lines in ASA Format

A. Citing Pages

ASA formatting style requires authors to include page, paragraph, or line numbers for direct quotes. In particular, students use extracts obtained from sources, which must appear between double quotation marks, to support their arguments. Moreover, ASA in-text citations must contain details identifying the exact location of the quoted information. As a rule, writers include these details after the publication year. Hence, an example of an in-text citation that contains a page number is:

  • Citing scheme – (Author’s Surname Year:Page).
  • Parenthetical in-text citation – (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1963:117).

From an in-text citation given above, scholars use a direct quote from a report written by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. In this case, the element “117” represents the page number that contains the quoted evidence. Also, writers should not use a comma to separate the corporate author and the publication year. However, one should use a full colon after the publication date when including page numbers. In turn, scholars can represent in-text citations in a narrative form by following ASA format, as shown below:

  • The statistical data given by the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1963:117) reveals that … .

An example given above contains the year and pagination inside the rounded parenthesis. However, one should include the publication date in the parenthesis when using a summary or paraphrase for a citation.

B. Citing Paragraphs

Some sources, like websites, contain information organized in paragraphs. In this case, students need to identify the actual section that contains the quoted statement. Also, this strategy increases the credibility of the cited evidence. Hence, relevant examples for this category of ASA citation are:

  • Citing scheme – (Author’s surname Year:Para. X).
  • In-text citation for a quote obtained from one paragraph – (Jones 1998:Para. 3).
  • In-text citation for a quote obtained from more than one paragraph – (Jones 1998:Paras. 3-5).

C. Citing Lines

Poems are credible sources of information used to write essays and research papers. In some instances, learners quote poem lines in their papers, which requires them to state the actual line that contains the mentioned information. Hence, examples of poem citations that one may use for in-text citations in ASA format are:

  • Citing scheme – (Author’s surname Year:Line X).
  • In-text citation for a quote obtained from one paragraph – (Jones 1998:Line 2).
  • In-text citation for a quote obtained from more than one paragraph – (Jones 1998:Lines 4-5).

ASA citation style requires one to use evidence obtained from diverse sources. In this case, examples provided above prove that one specifies the exact location of the quoted evidence. Moreover, citations received from chapters or tables should follow the format stated above.

9. Citing Block Quotes in ASA Format

In ASA format, block quotations contain more than forty words obtained directly from a source. In this case, one should offset a block quotation from the main body text. However, writers should not use any form of quotation marks to enclose a copy-pasted passage. Hence, the format of a block quotation formatted by using ASA guidelines is:

  • The arguments presented by Green (2018:3) show that…
  • No longer is the school’s most promising pipeline, the average teenager going to college for the first time, but more likely the adult who may need to go back for a second or third. After 160 years as an anchor of rural Pennsylvania, the university is becoming obsolete.

From an example provided, block quotes may appear in single spacing. In this case, page numbers, lines, or paragraphs that contain the information should follow the publication year. Moreover, writers should not include the page number after the last punctuation mark. Hence, some of the points that one must consider when making ASA format citations are:

  1. Students must enclose all the direct quotes by using double quotation marks.
  2. Writers must provide the specific location of a direct quote in a referenced source.
  3. Scholars should not use the older form of using “p.” or “pp.” to denote pages that contain the cited information.
  4. For reprinted versions, one should list the earliest publication date in square brackets followed by the year of the recent version used as a reference. For instance, an in-text citation for a source published in 2020, but its first publication date as 2000, should appear as “Veblen ([2000] 2020) stated that … .”
  5. Learners should separate multiple sources with semicolons when they appear as in-text citations. However, one should arrange them in alphabetical order of the authors’ surname.

How to Cite Charts in ASA Format

1. Image

Learners find visuals that help to support the main arguments presented in their works. For example, some visuals that remain useful for educational use include figures, illustrations, and photographs. As a rule, visual arts used in ASA formatted papers must add indisputably to the reader’s understanding of the information presented. In this case, one should consider the importance of visual presentations used in an essay, research paper, or manuscript objectively. Hence, the following questions can help one in evaluating the importance of visual arts:

  • Do the visual arts clarify the evidence presented?
  • Do the visual arts expand the information presented?
  • Do the visuals explain a concept better than one could in the text or a table?

Images that meet the above criteria are suitable for use in ASA formatted papers. Otherwise, writers should adopt a better strategy to explain the information. In turn, irrelevant visuals tend to distract readers from understanding the intended message.

A. Numbering Illustrations

Writers must number figures, illustrations, or photographs one after the other throughout an essay, research paper, or manuscript. In this case, the most acceptable way of labeling images is the use of specific phrases, like “Figure 1,” “Figure 2,” and “Figure 3,” respectively. Moreover, each image must contain a clear and accurate title. Then, readers should understand the implication of the data presented without referring to the text. In practice, each figure should appear on a separate page at the end of a written document. However, one should include a note inside a paper that indicates the approximate location of an image. In turn, some words, like “Fig. 1 about here,” enable writers to identify the information related to the evidence taken from visual arts. Hence, good ASA formatted academic papers should contain effective marking and identification.

B. Editing Images

Students should edit visual arts to enhance their clarity before including them in ASA formatted essays, papers, and manuscripts. For instance, one should ensure that readers understand all the components of an image. In this case, one should add labels and relevant explanations to enhance the image’s quality. Hence, one should edit photos to improve their quality and significance in supporting the evidence presented. However, it is optional.

C. Making Illustrations Professional

Camera-ready figures should have clear and legible illustrations. For example, one should type all the explanations that accompany images. Unfortunately, using hand-written pictures makes the work appear unprofessional. Besides, one must consider using black and white photos where possible. Hence, writers should focus on making academic papers appear professional.

2. Tables

Data tables contain credible information that scholars may use to support their thoughts when writing essays, research papers, or manuscripts. In particular, ASA formatting style requires one to number tables consecutively throughout an academic text. Also, each table should appear in a typed or printed form on a separate page at the end of a paper. Then, students must insert a note inside the body text that indicates the approximate location of each table. For example, one may use the statement “Table 2 about here” in the text’s body to show where a table appears.

A. Table Title

Each table should have a descriptive title. In this case, writers must be sure that the tables’ entry provides an adequate explanation that readers can understand without referring to the article’s text. For instance, a table title should specify what it presents. Then, some of the familiar depictions include means, coefficient, and percentages. Moreover, a compelling table’s entry should contain information about the data set and time frame. Hence, each data table should be independent and relevant ideas presented in a paper.

B. Table Headings

All columns and rows in a table must contain accurate headings. For example, students should avoid using headers for columns. In this case, one should spell out percentages in titles. Besides, writers should use subheadings to separate different sections of a table or make clear classifications of other variables. Thus, each column and row should have an accurate and relevant heading.

C. Table Measurements

Data presentation in tables depends on specific measurement methods used by scholars. For example, measurement methods determine the number of decimal places that make sense. In general, researchers round off or truncate decimals into thousandths and omit zeros. Moreover, a good example is where one writes 0.7234 as .723. As a rule, writers must use a consistent number of decimals throughout their works. Hence, students need to round or truncate decimal places to enhance the readability of measurements.

D. Table Statistics

ASA formatting style requires scholars to represent statistical tables correctly. For example, writers should include a standard error, and t-statistics enhance the reader’s ability to understand tables. Moreover, such details should appear under coefficients. Then, students must enclose the information with rounded brackets and provide explanatory notes that identify specific statistics. Alternatively, one may decide to include these details in a separate column of a table.

E. Table Notes

Tables included in ASA manuscripts must contain relevant notes and sources. Basically, writers should use the phrases “Notes” and “Sources” followed by a full colon when presenting additional details. For tables that contain explanatory footnotes, one should use alphabetical letters to label necessary explanations. As a rule, students list full citations of data sources in a reference list. In turn, all notes and descriptive details must appear below a table. Hence, presentable tables should contain relevant explanations for readers.

F. Significance Levels

Statistical tables presented in ASA manuscripts should contain appropriate significance levels. As a rule, one should use asterisks *, **, and *** to indicate significance levels 0.05, 0.01, and 0.001, respectively. Basically, these three significance levels are the acceptable standards in statistics. Moreover, one must specify if significance levels presented are results from one-tailed or two-tailed tests. However, writers should not include or explain the data that remain insignificant at p< .05 or < .10. Hence, good ASA papers should contain tables that present accurate and appropriate measures of significance levels.

G. Variables and Metrics

Each table should contain variables with similar metrics. For instance, using different metrics leads to problems when reading and interpreting data tables. In this case, each metric requires other numerical formats and interpretations. Also, students must report all the metrics into four significant figures. Hence, readers should not use variables with different metrics when presenting statistics in tables.

How to Format Headings in ASA Style

ASA formatting style provides guidelines that students should use to organize their works in a readable format. For example, readers must distinguish different sections and subsections easily. In this case, the ASA formatting method relies on three heading levels. Also, each level follows specific rules, as it is stated below:

Level 1 Heading

ASA formatted papers should have first-level headings written in capital letters. For instance, a capitalized entry must begin at the left margin of a page. In this case, students do not need to use bold fonts or underline it when preparing heading entries. Besides, good ASA formatted papers should not begin with a heading. In turn, writers should not include the phrase “INTRODUCTION” at the beginning of an essay, research paper, or other written manuscripts.

Level 2 Heading

ASA formatted essays and manuscripts should include italicized second-level headings. In practice, these entries must begin at the page’s left margin. As a rule, one should not use bold fonts or underline this heading. Then, all the essential words in a second-level title should begin with upper-case letters. However, prepositions (of, between, though), articles (the, an, a) and conjunctions (by, an, or) should begin with lower-case letters.

Level 3 Heading

ASA formatted papers should contain run-in third-level headings indented at 0.5 inches from the page’s left margin. In turn, this heading should begin a new paragraph. Also, one should include a period after a title. Then, other factors that one must consider when formatting third-level headings include:

  • Italics – one should italicize all the words in a third-level heading.
  • Sentence case – one should capitalize the first letter and proper nouns in a third-level heading. As a rule, the first word in a title should begin with a capital letter, even if it is a preposition, article, or conjunction.

How to Format a Reference Page in ASA

A reference list in ASA formatted papers should follow the text and footnotes in a separate section. In particular, one includes a heading “REFERENCES” at the top of a page that contains bibliographic entries. Moreover, essayists need to follow the guidelines for first-level heading to write a reference list’s headline. Then, writers double-space all the reference entries and use a hanging indentation. In turn, a suitable reference list must include all the sources used in the text’s body. As a result, one has the responsibility of ensuring that each entry contains adequate and accurate publication details.

Note: Students should not use examples provided in this article for their papers. In turn, such examples serve only for educational purposes of learning ASA format.

1. Alphabetic Order of Sources

The arrangement of source entries in a reference list must follow alphabetical order. In this case, one needs to ensure that all the entries follow the first author’s surname’s alphabetical order. For sources without a specific author, students use a title to determine the correct positioning. Then, scholars include the first names of all the authors, instead of initials. However, one may use the first- and middle-name initials if authors use them in the article’s publication.  As a rule, writers list all the authors. Moreover, ASA formatting guidelines prohibit scholars from using “et al.” in a reference section. In turn, publications authored by a committee are the only exception from this rule. Hence, some essential points that one must consider are:

  • Add spaces when using first- and second-name initials in a reference list. Basically, some noteworthy examples include R. B. Betty and M. L. B. Adams.
  • Invert the author’s first name when sources have multiple-authorship. In this case, some good examples include Jones, Arthur B., Colin D. Smith, and James Petersen. Otherwise, one should use the author’s first and second names when preparing relevant entries.
  • List bibliographic entries in the order of publication year for more than one source provided under the same author. As a rule, students use six hyphens and a period to replace names for repeated authorship.

2. Using Alphabetical Letters

Students distinguish works by one author in the same year by using alphabetical letters. In particular, added alphabetical letters should follow the year. For example, three sources published by one author in the same year should appear as 2000a, 2000b, and 2000c. Moreover, writers should use titles to list such sources in alphabetical order. Hence, examples of sources authored by the same person in different years are:

  • Turner, Alex. 2019a. “ASA Format.” Wr1ter 26(6):612-615.
  • Turner, Alex. 2019b. “Guide on Citing Rules.” Pp. 13-18 In ASA Format, edited by M. Turner. New York: Self Publisher.

Note: The current ASA style guide edition requires one to include full names of repeated authors and editors.

3. Chronological Order

Scholars follow chronological order when representing sources authored by the same researcher. In this case, writers list reference entries by using their publication date’s order. Hence, examples of different sources authored in separate years by the same person are:

  • Turner, Alex. 2018. ASA Format Guidelines. New York: Self Publisher.
  • Turner, Alex. 2019. Easy Guidelines for Citing in ASA. New York: Self Publisher.
  • Turner, Alex. 2020. “ASA Referencing Style for Newbies.” Wr1ter 36(8):384-390.

4. Citing Single- and Multiple-Authored Sources in ASA Format

ASA formatting style provides guidelines for citing sources with one biographer appearing in single- and multiple-authored sources. Basically, writers should place a single-authored scholarly source first even when such entries violate a chronological order. Hence, examples of single- and multiple-authored publications are: 

  • Turner, Alex. 2018. “How to Cite.” Pp. 28-32 in ASA Manual, edited by M. Turner, New York: Self Publisher.
  • Turner, Alex, and Michael Turner. 2020. Citing Manual in ASA Format. New York: Self Publisher.

Examples presented above show that a single-authored source has an earlier publication date. However, it must appear before a multiple-authored scholarly source. In this case, ASA formatting style requirements allow writers to violate a specific order when formatting such literary sources. In some instances, the first author appears in several references. Besides, students should arrange their bibliographic entries by following the alphabetical order of the second author’s surname. Hence, relevant examples os this case are:

  • Alba, Richard, and Philip Kasinitz. 2006. “Interesting Television and Its Stereotypes.” Review 5(4):76-77.
  • Alba, Richard, John R. Richardson, and Brian J. White. 2001. “The Changing Neighborhood Background of the Immigrant Metropolis.” Social Science 79(2):587-621.

From the examples provided above, the first and second author’s names follow an inverted format. In turn, this style differs from bibliographic entries of a source that contains more than one author. Also, examples given below show bibliographic entries of sources with multiple authors. However, the second author’s names follow the standard format:

  • Bursik, Robert J., Jr., and Harold G. Brown. 1993. Neigh­borhoods and Crime: The Perspectives of Effective Commu­nity Control. New York: Self Publisher.
  • Hagen, John, and Ruth D. Green, eds. 1995. Crime and Other Aspects. New York: Self University Press.
  • Jaynes, Gerald D., and Robin M. White, Jr. 1989. A Com­mon Truth: Blacks and American Society. New York: Self Academy Press.

5. Using a Title Case

One must use a title case when writing headings for all sources. For instance, one must capitalize on each publication’s title apart from prepositions, articles, and conjunctions. However, students may capitalize on these exemptions when they begin a title or subtitle. In turn, one should capitalize on hyphenated compound terms unless the second one is a proper noun or adjective. Hence, relevant examples that show appropriate ways of capitalizing hyphenated words are:

  • African-American Discrimination – The term American begins with an upper-case letter because it is an adjective related to the noun America.
  • The Issue of Self-preservation for the Feminine Gender – The word preservation begins with a lower-case letter since it follows a hyphen.

Referencing Different Types of Sources in ASA Format

Despite the general rules that one must observe when formatting the reference list, ASA style presents specific recommendations for formatting bibliographic entries for different sources. For example, students should prepare bibliographic entries for books, journal articles, websites, magazines, and media sources differently. Hence, reference requirements that writers must meet when using different sources are:

1. Books

Bibliographic entries for books must have adequate identification details. As a rule, each entry should contain authors, publication dates, book titles, places of publications, and publishers. Besides, one should observe correct punctuation marks when writing bibliographic entries. Hence, a citing scheme that one should use when preparing a bibliographic entry for books in ASA format is:

  • First Author’s Surname, First Name A. Second Author’s First Name, B. Surname. Year. Book’s Title: Subtitle. Place of Publication. Publisher.

Students may use books with a different number of authors. In this case, ASA formatting style requires one to use an inverted form for the first author. Then, the second and third author’s names should not have inverted surnames. In turn, the publication’s name should appear in the italicized form. Hence, examples of bibliographic entries that contain a different number of authors in ASA format are:

  • One author – Williams, Dianne. 2012. Race, Ethnicity, and Crime: Alternate Perspectives. New York: Algora
  • Two authors – Jaynes, Gerald D., and Robin M. Williams, Jr. 1989. A Common Destiny: Blacks and American Society. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • Three authors – Barak, Gregg, Paul Leighton, and Jeanne Flavin. 2010. Class, Race, Gender, and Crime: The Social Realities of Justice in America. Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield.
  • Books with editors as authors – Hasselm, Alicia E., ed. 2011. Crime: Causes, Types, and Victims. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
  • Chapter of a book – Riley, Matilda White. 1985. “Women, Men, and the Lengthening Life Course.” Pp. 333-47 in Gender and the Life Course, edited by A. S. Rossi. New York: Aldine.
  • Electronic books that one may obtain from a database – Newman, Katherine S., and Rourke L. O’Brien. 2011. Taxing the Poor: Doing Damage to the Truly Disadvantaged. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Retrieved August 27, 2013 (
  • A handbook or encyclopedia article – Levine, Felice J. 2001. “Professionalization of Social and Behavioral Scientists: the United States.” Pp. 12146-54 in The International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, edited by N.J. Smelser and P.B. Bates. London, England: Elsevier Science Limited.

One should separate the second and subsequent author’s names from examples of bibliographic entries for the books listed above. Moreover, students need to separate the first author’s surname and the first name using a comma. For books authored by editors, one should use the phrase “ed.” after the relevant proofreaders’ names. Besides, writers should enclose the book’s chapter inside double quotation marks. Finally, scholars should include the URL link and access date for books obtained from online databases.

2. Websites

Some websites contain credible information for use in supporting various arguments. Moreover, government and learning institutions have websites that contain credible evidence. As a rule, one should cite relevant websites by using the URL link and date of access. Hence, a citing scheme and an example of the website’s bibliographic entry in ASA Format are:

  • Website’s Name Year. “Article’s Title.” Place of Publication: The Publisher. Retrieved Month Day, Year (URL Link)
  • American Sociological Association, 2006. “Status Commit­tees.” Washington, DC: American Sociological Associa­tion. Retrieved December 12, 2006 (

3. Journal Articles

ASA formatting guidelines state relevant details that one should include in a journal article’s bibliographic entry. For instance, a reference citation for a journal article consists of the author’s names, the article’s title, publication name, volume and issue numbers, and page numbers. Then, writers enclose the article’s title by using double quotation marks. For journal articles published in online databases, reference entries include DOI numbers or valid URL links. Hence, a citing structure that one should use when creating bibliographic entries for journal articles in ASA format is:  

  • Author. Year. “Article’s Title.” Journal Title Volume number (Issue number): Page range. DOI or URL link.

Learners may come across journal articles that contain different identification details. Hence, examples of journal sources that one must come across are:

  • Printed journal article – Gillespie, Diane, Leslie Ashbaugh, and Joann Defiore. 2002. “White Women Teaching White Women about White Privilege, Race Cognizance, and Social Action: Toward a Pedagogical Pragmatics.” Race, Ethnicity, and Education 5(3):237-253.
  • For journal articles obtained from an online database and contain a DOI number – Desmond, Matthew. 2012. “Eviction and the Reproduction of Urban Poverty.” American Journal of Sociology 11(1):88-133. DOI:10.1086/666082.
  • For journal articles obtained from an online database and contain a URL link – Minor, Kevin I., James B. Wells, Irina R. Soderstrom, Rachel Bingham, and Deborah Williamson. 1999. “Sentence Completion and Recidivism Among Juveniles Referred to Teen Courts.” Crime & Delinquency 45(4): 467-480. Retrieved from

4. Videos

Films are credible sources of information for use in supporting main arguments. In particular, ASA bibliographic entries of a video should contain adequate identification details that enhance its credibility. For example one of the crucial information that students include is the film’s title, year of creation, directors, production’s location, producer, and format. Hence, a referencing scheme and an example of a video’s bibliographic entry in ASA format are:

  • Films Title. Year. A film by Directors. Place of Production. The Producer. Format.
  • The Central Park Five. 2013. A film by Ken Burns, David McMahon, Sarah Burns. Arlington, VA: PBS Distribution. DVD.

Examples provided above show that bibliographic entries should contain an italicized title. Also, one should not invert the director’s names. For films comprising more than one director, writers separate their names with a comma.

General Rules of Formatting in ASA

Most lecturers and editors reject papers and manuscripts that fail to meet the acceptable formatting specifications. In this case, paying attention to formatting requirements saves time and avoidable frustrations. Hence, essential formatting aspects that scholars must consider before submitting their work in ASA format are:

1. Indentation

ASA formatting style requires one to indent the first line of body paragraphs. As a rule, essayists indent the first line at 0.5 inches from the left margin. Moreover, this rule applies to third-level headings. Then, one should indent all block quotations to distinguish them from the rest of the essay’s body. However, writers must remember not to indent a paragraph that follows first- and second-level headings.

2. Margins

Papers and manuscripts formatted in ASA should have a uniform margin all-round a page. In this case, a general rule requires scholars to leave a 1.25 inches margin. Besides, this format leaves adequate space for editors to write notes.

3. Font

ASA formatted papers should have legible fonts, which enhances readability levels. As a rule, students use a 12-point font.

4. Spacing

ASA formatted papers should include double spaces. For instance, acknowledgment, abstract, text, footnotes, and references must follow a double spacing format. Basically, this spacing strategy makes it easier for one to read through the essay’s text.  

5. Sentence Case

ASA formatting style requires authors to use a sentence case when writing third-level headings. Basically, this sentence case implies that only the first words and proper nouns should begin with capital letters. Also, students start the first word after a colon with an upper case letter even though it is a conjunction, article, or preposition.

6. Title Case

ASA formatting style requires students to use a title case for a title in a reference list and second-level headings. Basically, all the words in the source’s title should begin with an upper case letter. In turn, one should follow these guidelines to implement a title case:

  • begin the first word of a title or heading with a capital letter, even when it is a minor word;
  • capitalize the first word of a subtitle;
  • capitalize the first word after a colon, em dash, or end punctuation mark when it appears in a heading;
  • capitalize major and second part of hyphenated words;
  • capitalize all four-letter words, like with, between, and from.

Note: Exceptions from a title case rule are:

  • Short conjunctions – Students should not capitalize short conjunctions, like and, as, but, if, or, so, and yet.
  • Articles – Writers should not capitalize articles, like the, an, and a.
  • Short prepositions – Scholars should not capitalize short prepositions, like as, at, by, for, in, of, off, on, per, to, up, and via.

Summing Up on ASA Format Rules

ASA is a parenthetical referencing style developed by the English American Sociology Association. Basically, ASA formatting style is applied for research papers in sociological sciences. Moreover, ASA format provides various guidelines for formatting the title page, in-text citations, page margins, headings, and reference pages. In turn, failure to follow specific guidelines when submitting ASA formatted papers and manuscripts may result in rejections. Hence, the basic rules that one must observe when using ASA formatting styles are:

  • Researchers include an abstract containing between 150 and 200 words separately after a title page. Basically, an acceptable abstract includes a concise summary of the work.
  • Each in-text citation consists of the author’s last name and the cited material’s initial publishing date.
  • When citing sources without a specific author, students must use the source’s title. In this case, one capitalizes all the significant words except prepositions, articles, and conjunctions.
  • For sources with three authors, the first in-text citation includes three surnames. Then, subsequent in-text citations must have the first author’s surname and the phrase “et al.”
  • For in-text citation of sources containing more than three authors, one includes the first biographer’s surname and the phrase “et al.”
  • In-text citations for a quotation in ASA format follow the strategy – (Author’s Surname Year: Page).
  • When citing an image, students need to determine if it clarifies the evidence presented, expands the information presented, or explains a concept better.
  • Scholars must number figures, illustrations, or photographs one after the other throughout an essay, research paper, or another type of a written manuscript.
  • Writers use the phrases “Figure 1,” “Figure 2,” and “Figure 3” when labeling figures.
  • ASA formatting style requires one to number tables consecutively throughout the text. In this case, students must present each table in typed or printed form on a separate page at the end of a manuscript.
  • One should include a phrase that identifies the approximate location of a table in a written text.
  • Students must use capital letters in writing first-level headings, which must begin at the left margin.
  • Learners must use a capital case and italics when writing a second-level heading. Also, this entry must begin at the left margin.
  • Researchers need to format third-level headings in a sentence case and italics. Besides, one should indent this entry 0.5 inches from the left margin.
  • A reference list in ASA formatted papers follows the text and footnotes in a separate page. Besides, writers use a heading “REFERENCES” at the top of a page that contains bibliographic entries.
  • ASA formatting style requires one to indent the first line of body paragraphs that do not follow first- and second-level headings.
  • ASA formatted papers should have a uniform margin of 1.25 inches all-round a page.