APA running head

This article reflects the APA 7th edition guidelines. Click here for APA 6th edition guidelines.

A running head is an abbreviated version of your paper’s title. It’s placed in the page header of your document, together with a page number. The running head is only required for professional manuscripts intended for publication, not student papers (unless instructed otherwise).

An APA running head can be up to 50 characters (including spaces) and is written in all capital letters. It’s left-aligned and appears on all pages, including the title page. It’s not necessary to put the label “Running head” in front of the title (as was the case in APA 6).

APA running head (7th edition)

Setting up the APA running head in Word and Google Docs

To set up an APA running head in Word:

  1. Click on “Insert” > “Header” (or double click at the top of a page).
  2. Select the “Blank” template (left-aligned without additional formatting).
  3. Insert your (abbreviated) paper title in capital letters.

To insert automatic page numbering:

  1. Click on “Insert” > “Page number”.
  2. Select the top-right position.
  3. Check the “Show on first page” box if possible.

These steps may differ slightly depending on your version of Microsoft Word.

To set up an APA running head in Google Docs:

  1. Click on “Insert” > “Headers and footers” > “Header”.
  2. Insert your (abbreviated) paper title in capital letters.

To insert automatic page numbering:

  1. Click on “Insert” > “Page numbers”.
  2. Choose the option with page numbers in the top-right corner on all the pages

Abbreviating long titles for the running head

If your paper title is longer than 50 characters, you need to use an abbreviated version for the running head. The APA guidelines state that:

  • You don’t necessarily need to use the same words in the same order.
  • You can’t use abbreviations, but you may use an ampersand (&) instead of the word “and”.

Examples: abbreviating the title

Running head example 1
  • Original title: Social Comparisons on Social Media: The Impact of Facebook on Young Women’s Body Image Concerns and Mood
  • Running head: SOCIAL COMPARISONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Running head example 2
  • Original title: Examining the Energizing Effects of Humor: The Influence of Humor on Persistence Behavior
  • Running head: ENERGIZING EFFECTS OF HUMOR
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Raimo Streefkerk

Raimo is an expert in explaining plagiarism and citing sources. He has been writing helpful articles since 2017 and is continuously improving Scribbr's Citation Generators.

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