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ASA Format: Tips on Writing and Formatting an ASA Style Paper

February 9, 2020
ASA Format: Tips on Writing and Formatting an ASA Style Paper

Writing many academic essays is an inevitable part of studying. If you choose the academic career after graduating, you will need to do researches and get published in scientific magazines. And note, though writing and editing complete the major part of work, it is not all the work done. You also need to format the paper in the necessary style.

Colleges and universities use several formatting styles. They are similar in many aspects, but they differ in many rules of citations that are crucial for any academic work. No matter if you are a student or a scientist, you need to know about the formats, their peculiarities, and the fields of application. Incorrect citation and the wrong format can ruin your work and affect your career.

Most of the academic works use two formatting styles – MLA and APA. But there are more formats. One of them is ASA. We’ve created this article to tell you about the ASA formatting style and its rules.

What is ASA Format?

This format was introduced by the American Sociological Association and is used for the works on sociology. In many aspects, it is similar to the common APA format, which also serves the sociological field. However, scientific journals supported by this Association require that you format your articles and studies according to the ASA standards.

Generally, you need to master the ASA format if you study sociology and need to write papers on this subject. In most cases, your professor will require that you use the ASA rules for them.  

In this article, we’ve gathered the full information on how to write in ASA format – its all specific features and rules for you to find the information quickly.  

ASA Formatting: General Rules

These rules concern the page layout, the structure of the paper, and the citations.

  • The font must be clear and understandable for all text editors that the parties might use. The obvious choice is the Arial and Times New Roman – these are the traditional fonts of the college papers and academic works;
  • the font size is 12 pt;
  • the text indents are at least 1 inch for all edges, or you’d better make them 1.25 inches;
  • apply the double spacing for all the text;
  • the work in ASA format must have a cover page;
  • the Abstract part with a very brief description of the work is not a strict requirement, but in most cases, you need to have it;
  • the text of your ASA paper will commence on the new page after the Abstract section – on page 3. You need to put the title of the work on that page, but don’t mention the “Introduction” term – it is not used in this format.

How to Write a Paper in ASA Format?

The significant features that differentiate the ASA writing format are:

  • 1. The Abstract – it is a short (approximately 150-200 words) introduction that describes the topic, the goals of your work, and gives the thesis statement you will explore in the paper.

  • 2. Subheadings – ASA uses these elements to organize the parts of the text. But they are not for the traditional “three-part-structure” of the research works. In the sociological studies formatted according to ASA, you use subheadings for the layout of the “Body” section.

    The rules of application for the subheadings in the ASA essay are:

    • The lines are left-aligned;
    • don’t use the “bold” style;
    • the first-level subtitle is in caps for all words;
    • the second-level subheading is italicized, and every word in the line is capitalized. Articles and prepositions are in the lower case;
    • the third-level subheading is a line with the first word from the capital letter. The “italic” style is applied for all words in this title.

  • 3. Footnotes are on the same page where you need to explain something. Yet, it is better to avoid the footnotes and use the regular in-text citations with the references to the sources in the bibliography list.

  • 4. The requirements for the literacy style:
    • Don’t use the first person in the text. Describe the subject of your work and don’t provide your own opinions;
    • don’t use passive voice; write in a neutral style with scientific vocabulary. Ensure that there no traces of common expressions or slang.
    • name the specific ethnicity instead of the broader group;
    • avoid the “gendered” words and appeal to the general terms that don’t have the gender specification;
    • all abbreviations must present their full names at first. You should name the organization or any other abbreviated item and provide its conventional abbreviations in parentheses. When you mention them again in the text, you can give the acronym only.

  • Papers of outstanding quality without any payments beforehand

    How to Make a Title Page?

    The cover page is the mandatory element of any work in ASA. It must represent the following details that identify the work:

    1. The title of the work;
    2. the information about the author(-s): their full names and the colleges or universities they represent;
    3. the word count for all the work, with all the elements like references;
    4. the address of the person who will receive feedback on the job. It can be the author or another person bearing this responsibility;
    5. the footnote with the credits for the other people who contributed to the work.

    How to Cite in ASA Format?

    There are different rules for the in-text citations and the list of sources you compile for the bibliography.

  • The main elements of the citation “string” are the ASA style paper are the full name of the author, and the original date of publishing – you need it even if you refer to some of the later reprints. These details must be in parentheses.

  • The format depends on whether you mention the name of the author you refer to, or not:
    • If you name it – add the original date of publication right after the name:

      e.g., Charles Tilly (2008) analyzes the public performances.

    • If you don’t name the author in the citation – include the last name and the date after the quote. Note that comma is not needed:

      e.g., Such public performances demonstrated (Tilly 2008)

    • If you deal with the reedition of the original work, you need to provide both the date of the first publication and the date of reprint that you refer to. Locate these numbers right after the name of the author(-s), don’t put the comma, but put the slash symbol to separate the dates:

      e.g.: (Meacham 2008/2019)

    • If you need to insert a direct citation of the author’s words, note that you need the number of the page of the book source where you get those words:

      e.g., “when liberalism is besieged by populisms of both the right and the left” (Wilentz 2018:10)


  • If you want to cite a longer fragment of more than 40 words in length, you need to separate it – this quotation is the only area of your text where you should apply the single spacing. This way, you can make it look compact and stand apart. Besides, note that it does not use the quotations marks.

  • When you deal with the source created by co-authors in the ASA style format, the rules of citations will depend on the number of writers:
    • Mention the surnames if you there are two writers:

      e.g.: (Crowley and Smith 2013)

    • If there are three and more authors, you need to name them all in the first reference. When you quote the same source again, you will mention the first author only and apply the standard “et al.” to replace the rest of the names:
    • e.g., First (Crowley, Smith, and Delaney 1998);

      Later (Crowley et al. 1998).


  • If you need to give credits to several sources at once, you should list them sequentially and divide by semicolon:

    e.g.: (Crowley 1996; Delaney 2000; Smith et al. 1956)

  • The main obstacle of the correct citation with ASA paper format or any other style is the mess of requirements. The strings are sequences of words and symbols with commas, periods, and semicolons. Some of the words are capitalized, and others are not. The only way is to remember these rules by heart, as you will never find the logical explanation of what these formats look this way.

    Fortunately, the technical progress helps us all. There are automated systems that format your citations. You will need to provide the details of the source – the title, the name of the author, the date of publishing, the page number, etc. After that, the system will generate the string with the correct sequence and formatting of each element.

    Read more: How to Cite a Poem in MLA and APA Styles

    How to Make an ASA Reference Page?

    The list of all sources is called the References. It is a separate section of academic research at the end of the paper. You start it on a new page and format according to the following criteria:

    • The title of the section must be in the center of the page: The References;
    • the list of sources is alphabetical, and the order of their “appearance” in the text does not matter;
    • the format of the author’s name is last-first;
    • for a book written by co-authors, name them all and don’t use “et al.” in the bibliography list;
    • use the hanging indent for the name of each item in the bibliography list;
    • all words in titles of books, magazines, and articles must be capitalized – but the prepositions, articles, and conjunctions must remain in the lower case;
    • apply the “italics” style for the titles;
    • put the titles of separate chapters into the quotation marks.

    For instance, the sequence for the book sources is as follows:

    Author (Last, First). Year of Publication. Title (italics). City, State Abb./Country of Publisher: Publisher

    e.g., Goffman, Erving. 2013. Encounters; Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction. Eastford, CT: Martino Fine Books

    If the book has two or more authors, you need to use the “last-first” order for the first name, and specify the names of the other writers in “first-last” format:

    e.g., Johnson, Louise C., and Stephen J. Yanca. 2009. Social Work Practice: A Generalist Approach. New York City, NY: Pearson

    Do You Need Help Writing an Essay in ASA Format?

    The ASA rules might seem complicated and demand some time to remember them. Then you will need even more time to check every citation in your text and every entry in the References list to ensure that they all are correct. Mistakes in those sequences will affect your grades if you are a student, and ill-treat your academic reputation of a scientist.

    In such cases, it can be worth referring to the professionals. Our writing service at 500WordEssay can provide you with the example of a paper written in ASA format for the reference. Besides, we include the formatting of the text in ASA or any other style into the package. You can get it for free with the paper on demand, or order the separate editing and formatting service for your essay. Contact us for more information, and we’ll help you, no matter which assistance you need.


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