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Dissertation & Doctoral Project Formatting & Clearance: APA Style 7th Ed.

After you successfully defend your dissertation or doctoral project, what happens? This is a guide to submitting your dissertation or doctoral project for the formatting check and final copy.


In order to streamline the dissertation clearance process, the following changes have been made, effective 3-1-2024.

1. The Dissertation Cataloging Form is no longer necessary.

2. The Dissertation Clearance Form is now initiated directly by the student, and only through Adobe Sign - Signed PDFs and scanned forms have been replaced by Adobe Sign.

3. Students completing dissertation clearance are no longer required to schedule a meeting with their DCR (Dissertation Clearance Representative). If they have questions about what to do, they are welcome to schedule a DCR appointment, but it is not required.

If you have questions about these changes or other aspects of the process, contact and we will be happy to assist.

Finding It @ Your Library

General APA Style Guidelines


Verb tense. APA style papers should be written in past or present perfect tense:

Avoid: Mojit and Novian's (2013) experiment shows that...

Allowed: Mojit and Novian's (2013) experiment showed that...

Allowed: Mojit and Novian's (2013) experiment has shown that...

Be concise and clear

  • Avoid vague statements
  • Present information clearly
  • Eliminate unnecessary words

Style matters

  • Write objectively
  • Avoid poetic or flowery language


Be sensitive to labels

  • Avoid identifying groups by a disorder
    Avoid: schizophrenics
    Allowed: people diagnosed with schizophrenia
  • Avoid outdated or inappropriate labels
  • When you must label a group, try to use a term that group prefers

Gender pronouns

  • Gender refers to a social role
  • Sex refers to biological characteristics

What is the APA 7th Edition Publication Manual?

The 7th edition of Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association was created by the American Psychological Assocation (APA), and contains the complete guidelines on how to format material for publication and cite your research.  It is a set of style rules that codifies the components of scientific writing in order to deliver concise and bias free information to the reader. 

This guide provides some of the basics to keep in mind, but it doesn't replace owning or borrowing the actual Publication Manual itself. It should be on your desk by your side throughout your writing process.


APA style, 7th edition requires specific heading formatting.

For Levels 1-3, the paragraph text begins on a new line. For Levels 4-5, the paragraph text begins on the same line and continues as a paragraph.

Level of heading



Centered, Boldface, Uppercase
and Lowercase Heading


Flush Left, Boldface, Uppercase and
Lowercase Heading


Flush Left, Bold Italic, Uppercase and
Lowercase Heading


         Indented, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase, Ending With a Period.


         Indented, Bold Italic, Uppercase and Lowercase, Ending With a Period.

Verb Tense

In Section 4.2 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.), APA (2020) states that you should use verb tenses consistently throughout your work. See a chart of when and how to use past tense (Rodriguez found) and present perfect tense (Researchers have shown) at the APA Style website.

In-Text Citation Basics

Author/Date Citation Method

APA publications use the author/date in text citation system to briefly identify sources to readers.  Each in-text citation is listed alphabetically in the reference list.  All in-text citations referenced in the body of work musr appear in the reference list and vice versa.

  • The author-date method includes the author's surname and the the publication year.  Do not include suffixes such as Jr., Esq., etc. Example: (Jones, 2009)
  • The author/date method is also used with direct quotes.  Another component is added in this format: (Jones, 2009, p.19)
  • When multiple pages are referenced, use pp. (Jones, 2009, pp.19-21)

Variations of author/date within a sentence
Here are some examples of how the author/date citation method are formatted within different parts of a sentence. Please note the author, publication date, and study are entirely fictional.

  • Beginning of a sentence: Jones (2009) completed a study on the effects of dark chocolate on heart disease.
  • Middle of a sentence: In 2009, Jones's study on the effects of dark chocolate and heart disease revealed...
  • End of a sentence: The study revealed that participants who ate dark chocolate bars every day did not develop heart disease (Jones, 2009).

Citing works with more than one author

  • One author: Jones (2009) // (Jones, 2009)
  • Two authors: Ahmed and Jones (2010) // (Ahmed & Jones, 2010)
  • Three or more authors: Tsai et al. (2011) // (Tsai et al., 2011)
  • Group/organization author that can be abbreviated: 1st mention: National Institutes of Health (NIH, 2012) // subsequent mentions: NIH (2012)

Sample References

Journal articles

Sharifian, N., & Grühn, D. (2019). The differential impact of social participation and social support on psychological well-being: Evidence from  the Wisconsin longitudinal study. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 88(2), 107-126.


Shiraev, E. (2017). Personality theories: A global view. SAGE.

Chapter from a book

Ochs, E., & Schieffelin , B. B. (1984). Language acquisition and socialization: Three developmental stories and their implications. In R. A. Shweder & R. A. LeVine (Eds.), Culture theory: Essays on mind, self, and emotion (pp. 276 320). Cambridge University Press.

Webpage from a website

World Health Organization. (2020, June 15). Elder abuse.


View many more examples in the APA Style Manual or on the APA Style website.