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ASA Research Paper Format: Guideline for Students

If you are new to the field of sociology, the ASA referencing style may prove an entirely different ballpark from the referencing styles you are accustomed to. This article will address the ASA paper format to help you quickly familiarize yourself with the quirks of ASA and overcome various errors as you edit your paper. 

What is the ASA format?

The ASA format is a style that was introduced by the American Sociological Association, thus the acronym ASA. This style is somewhat similar to APA with slight differences such as the inclusion of credits and grants on the title page. 

ASA formatting: basic guidelines

Some of the key rules to recall when writing an ASA paper include:

  1. Use a visible font in size twelve (preferably Times New Roman)
  2. Employ double-line spacing throughout your paper except for block quotations
  3. Insert a 1.15-inch margin on all edges of your page
  4. Start your title page on a new page and indicate: the title of the paper, the names of the authors, addresses, credits, grants, and acknowledgments
  5. Insert a short abstract of up to 200 words 
  6. Avoid emboldening or underlining titles within your paper

ASA title page

The title page of an ASA-style paper is more detailed than that of the APA format paper. The title page is designed in a manner that allows readers to easily reference your paper and also to reach you for consultation. 

The title page should contain your title in full, the total word count of the paper, the author’s address, acknowledgments, and grants. 

ASA heading

The running head in an ASA paper is usually a short version of the title and should be shortened to at most fifty characters. This heading should be flush right and expressed in capital letters. 

Also, ensure that your tables have proper headings that highlight the data you are analysing and the phenomenon you were investigating. 

ASA subheadings

Like all assignments that require copious writing, sociological papers may require to be chunked into smaller segments for easy readability. ASA provides guidelines for editing your headings to allow your reader to follow through with your arguments. 

When editing your subheadings:

  • Edit all first-level headings in capital letters and flush the titles left.
  • Second-level headings should be italicized with each word in the title capitalized.
  • Third-level headings are italicized and only have their first words capitalized. 

ASA page numbers

ASA papers feature Arabic numbers which start from the title page and are aligned flush left within the header. 

ASA paper sections

An ASA paper should include the following chapters. 

  1. The title page
  2. The abstract
  3. The body
  4. Notes
  5. References
  6. Appendixes

How to do ASA citations

ASA in-text citations

Citing work by one author

Intext citations in ASA follow the author-date method. Your citations should contain the author’s last name and the initial publishing date of the quoted document.

i.e., The high rates of drug abuse in college are largely caused by peer pressure and the lack of control measures by institutions (Dennis, 1967).


Dennis (1967) attributes the high rates of drug abuse in college to peer pressure and lack of control measures by institutions

Citing work by multiple authors

When citing a source by multiple authors in ASA, cover each author's surname in your citation and end your citation with the year of publication. 

e.g., Poorly planned implementation of technology in teaching-learning yields detrimental effects on the student’s performance (john, Madeline, Jenkin & Thompson, 2013). 

Citing work that has been reprinted

If your source has undergone multiple revisions, you should only indicate the initial publication date and the latest reprint date in your citation. 

i.e., Continuous tests offer a better visual of the learner's academic progress in comparison with summative assessments (Jake, 1950/2020). 

Reference page

References in an ASA-style paper are sorted in alphabetical order by the last name of the author. If an author’s name recurs, sort the work based on the recency of the paper. Also, all book titles should be capitalized within the references section of your paper. 

References in ASA also feature a hanging indent with the first line of each reference entry flash right and the subsequent lines featuring a half-inch indent. Also, be keen to list the name of each author in your paper as the extension is not acceptable in ASA-style papers. 

The references should start on a new page with the title ‘references’ centred at the top of the page. 

Quotes in ASA

When quoting words from another source verbatim, you should use quotation marks to enclose the words and cite the source after your quotation. 

Quotes exceeding four sentences should however be expressed in a new paragraph and formatted with an ½-inch indent. Block quotes are single-spaced and do not have quotation marks. Citations for quotations in ASA should show the year of publication and page number separated with a semi-colon. 


(Year of publication: page number)

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