ASA style

ASA (standing for American Sociological Association) is not the most widespread academic formatting style. It is a common requirement for sociology majors, but if a sociology class is one of your minors, the chances are — you are not quite familiar with this format. All in all, it somewhat reminds of MLA and APA formats; however, it does have some peculiarities of its own. Below, we’ll guide you through the process of writing and formatting a paper in ASA style, so read on to make sure you do not lose any precious grade points on formatting.

ASA vs. MLA & APA: the main differences

As already mentioned, ASA is somewhat similar to MLA, and since sociology is a humanities subject, a lot of students get confused and follow MLA formatting rules they’re already used to. This is a grave mistake because these two styles still have their differences. Other students often confuse ASA with APA format, which is also a mistake. While both ASA and APA have similar referencing policies (the author’s name and the year of material publication in parentheses), a lot of other formatting details are a bit different. Let’s go over them one by one.

ASA style basics

While ASA citation and formatting logic are quite similar to any other formatting style, accepted in the academe, there a few minor differences you should keep in mind. Pay attention to:

  • Sheet margins that should be 1 ¼ inch on all sides of your paper
  • 12 point font (Times New Roman is the best option), double-spaced all through the paper
  • A separate title page with student and professor’s name, as well as school credentials
  • An abstract is obligatory, and it always follows your title page
  • Endnotes and footnotes for your citations
  • Tables and graphs are listed in a separate section, not in the body text
  • Subheadings are formatted according to their importance in text
  • Reference page in ASA papers should include all sources used in your research, not only the material you cited from or gave reference to

Now, let’s go over all of these peculiarities in more detail.

Structuring ASA style papers

You may have noticed already that ASA paper structure is a bit similar to APA style. That is, you start with a title, followed by an abstract, and your actual paper begins with the third page of a document. However, as we stressed more than once — minor details are different. Below are the most important things you should keep in mind while formatting every little section of your ASA paper.

Title page in ASA style

As a rule, most ASA papers come with a separate title page — this is a default requirement. In some cases, though, your professor may ask you not to include a title. If however, we go with default requirements, we’ll have to include the following information:

  • Header with your paper full title
  • Writer’s name
  • Educational establishment details
  • Word count
  • Writer’s address
  • Sponsors’ credentials (if any)

ASA abstract

A title page is followed by an abstract, which gives a brief summary of your work. It’s usually a challenging part because you are supposed to convey the main ideas (as well as the results) of your entire paper in just 150-200 words. Note that this part does not act as an introduction. It is not supposed to hook your readers — it should describe your full paper briefly. Also, you have to list major terms that act like keywords in this section.

Subheadings in ASA style

While the previous section will be very similar to APA format you may already be familiar with, subheadings in ASA are formatted quite differently. The first thing to remember is that ASA subheadings are never centered or highlighted in bold fonts. Instead, the following rules apply:

  • Most important subheading in typed in capital letters
  • Second important subheading in typed in italics, with each new word starting with a capital letter
  • Third and least important subheading comes in italics, but only the first letter is a capital one

Note: all subheading are left-aligned

Footnotes and Endnotes in ASA style

Footnotes are an essential part of ASA writing. Most of the time, they are used when the author refers to some specific terms that need further explaining. Each footnote has a number and goes into the footer of your paper page.

Endnotes, as the name suggests, are listed in the final section of your paper, right before your bibliography section. The latter one is, by the way, called “References” and also has a couple of specific formatting rules. Just like footnotes, endnotes are numbered.

Citation in ASA: when and how to use it

Once again, you may notice certain similarities to APA style here. Any time you are referring to someone else’s material or inserting a quote, you are supposed to give the author’s name and year of the source publication in parentheses. However, there is no comma between an author’s name and the year of the source publication. For example:

“Citation goes in here” (Author 2019)

If you are giving reference to someone else’s research, and mention the author in your body text, you do not need to restate the author’s name in parentheses once again. For example: According to Author, 34% of… (2018)

When the source has two authors, you mention both of their names. For example:

“Quote” or in-text reference (Author1 and Author2 2019)

If the source has more than two authors, you use ‘’ for your body references, but make sure to have all of their names in paper references. For example:

“Quote” or in-text reference (Author1 et. al 2019)

Of course, you will be working with multiple sources and may have more questions about paper referencing. You can find every little detail of each particular formatting case on ASA official webpage. It’s always a good idea to double-check for the latest formatting guidelines.

ASA style references

Every book, article, or any other kind of publication you’ve used during the research, go into your reference page. In practice, however, we know that students do not always follow this rule, so it’s ok to include only the most relevant sources you’ve used most. Ideally, the number of sources should match the number of your paper pages. A couple of other requirements include:

  • Alphabetical order
  • Hanging indent
  • Title case (each word starts with a capital letter unless it is an article or a preposition)
  • Repeated authors are listed twice. In this case, an older publication is listed first.

Tips on writing in ASA style

Even though most students pay a lot of attention to ASA formatting, one should never discard writing logic. Here are some tips you should remember while writing an ASA styled paper:

  • Do not use first person narrative and personal pronouns, in general. Of course, exceptions to this rule may apply; still, unless you are working on a narrative paper, you should forget ‘I’s and ‘you’s in academic writing.
  • Most academic papers are based on facts and need heavy references to support the author’s point of view. So, it would not be wise to dwell on your personal opinion.
  • Passive voice is acceptable in the academy, but the English language, in general, favors active constructions over passive ones. So, if there is a way to put your ideas in the active voice, do.
  • Writers should avoid jargon, slang, and colloquialisms. Professional terms are, of course, acceptable if you use them in the right context. However, even such terms should often be referred to in footnotes.
  • Body text of your paper should not have any abbreviations. The latter ones are only acceptable in tables and graphs.
  • Acronyms are acceptable in body text, but when you mention an agency for the first time, you should include its full title with an acronym in parentheses: Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Later on, you can go with an acronym instead of a full title.

  • Any academic paper is a work that celebrates specific, clear to understand terms and language. Students should avoid generalization like ‘everybody’ or ‘mankind.’
  • It’s highly important to mind political, gender, and racial correctness. Once again, it is essential to avoid generalizations. For example, “Europeans” is too broad a notion given how many countries Europe has. The same goes for Asians — so, once again, stay specific and neutral in your writing.

Finally, if you need help writing or structuring an ASA style paper, do not feel like you’re the only student who ever got lost working on an academic assignment. Our custom writing service is always ready to offer a hand with your paper, and since we employ only experienced graduates in their niche fields, you can always stay confident in quality and originality of our writing.

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