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MLS 452: Research Methods & Project: Headings

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Headings are an important part of your research paper. They provide organization for your argument and let your reader take note of important key points. Make sure that ideas of equal importance share the same heading level.

Heading Level Formatting Chart

Heading Level Format
1 Centered Bold Title Case
2 Aligned to the Left Bold Title Case
3 Indented Bold Sentence case. Text begins after heading's period.
4 Indented Bold & Italicized Sentence case. Text begins after heading's period.
5 Indented Italicized Sentence case. Text begins after heading's period.

There should be at least two sections for each heading level that you use. For instance, if you use Heading Level 2 under your first Heading Level 1, you need to have at least two Heading Level 2 subsections under that Heading Level 1 section, but your second Heading Level 1 section does not have to have any Heading Level 2 subsections.

Heading Level Example

Section One

Subsection One

Subsection Two

Section Two

Section Three

Conclusion vs. Discussion

One of the Heading Level 1 sections of your paper should be labeled either Conclusion or Discussion, depending on the purpose of your paper. If you have original research, you should discuss your results and their implications. If you are simply reviewing literature on a particular topic, then you will conclude your summary on the subject.

  • Conclusion: What are the main, overarching themes found in each work that has been reviewed? Do multiple works agree on the same points, or do some of them contradict each other?
  • Discussion: Do your results support your original hypothesis? Why or why not? How is your work similar or different from others? Why is it important to the field? What implications does your research have?


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (2019). APA formatting and style guide. Retrieved from