Maintaining APA Format for Tables


Posted February 28, 2018

Tables are often a preferred way to display information in your dissertation, especially quantitative results. The APA Publication Manual provides specific guidelines for the use of Tables. Here we go over some of the main points in the APA style guidelines for tables.

First, in regard to content, tables should be kept lean and only include essential information. The information in your table should be essential to the discussion in the text, but should be presented so that the information in the table can be understood without reading the text. You should also avoid redundancy between tables and the text of the document. In other words, information in a table should not be repeated in the text (and vice versa). If you find yourself discussing every item of the table in the text, the table is probably unnecessary.

Next, in terms of table formatting, the APA Publication Manual provides some basic recommendations. The heading of the table should begin with the table number (e.g., “Table 1”) on the first line, and then a descriptive title of the table on the second line in italics with all major words capitalized. Tables should not display any vertical borders, and horizonal borders should enclose the top and bottom of the entire table, as well as the column headers. Every column of the table should be labeled, including the leftmost column. Notes should be placed immediately below the table, with general notes beginning with Note. (in italics) and specific notes marked with superscript lowercase letters (e.g., a, b, c). If there are uncommon abbreviations in your table, they should be defined in a note. See Table 1 for a basic example of table formatting.

Finally, when referring to a table in the text, you should always refer to the table by number rather than by location. You should never write “see table above (or below)” or “see the table on page 32” because a table’s position can change if the content or formatting of the surrounding text changes. Instead, you should write “See Table 1 for…” or “Table 1 shows…”

This should give you a general idea of how to create tables following APA style. If you want even more details, refer to the “Displaying Results” section of the latest edition of APA Publication Manual.


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