ASA Citation Format

The History Behind ASA Format

Regarded as the chief method of citation amongst scholars and academics, ASA (or American Sociological Association) is most often found in works created by those studying, or working in, the field of sociology.

ASA writing format is intended for use by those who author manuscripts to be published in ASA journals.

Similar to other styles of citation, ASA format citation changes depending on the originating source material.

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What is ASA Format?

For college students studying in the field of sociology, collecting and compiling information from multiple sources, to be used in their own manuscripts or articles that they wish to submit to sociology journals or publications requires some semblance of an understanding for ASA citation principles.  Failing to properly cite work not only has the potential to discredit an author, but, in the case of students, it could have disastrous effects on post-secondary careers.

ASA Citation Format

Depending on the source material referenced, the method for citation may differ. While it is true that there are generators and machines available to help to automate the citation process, it is in good practice to have at least a basic understanding of the guidelines that exist for the ASA citation model.

For example, the manuscript format dictates that:

  • All text must be double-spaced and in a font of 12 points; this includes all footnotes and references.
  • Margins must be no less than one inch from all sides of the paper.
  • There must be a separate title page, that includes the paper title, the names of all authors, the complete word count (including references and footnotes), the title footnote (including author names, addresses, credits, grants and acknowledgements)
  • If necessary, there should be a 200 word abstract on a separate page. This should be headed with the title.
  • The text of the paper should start on a separate page, headed with the title of the manuscript.

In-Text ASA citations are a little different.

  • The general form of in-text citations include the author’s surname and the publication year. This should also include specific page numbers if there are direct quotes.
  • Whenever an author’s name appears in text, it should be followed up with the year of publication in parenthesis.
  • Whenever an author’s name does not appear in text, the author’s surname and year of publication should be together in parenthesis.
  • Whenever page numbers are included, the page number will follow the publication year, a colon will separate the two.
  • Whenever there are three authors, the surnames of all of them should appear in the first citation, afterwards it is acceptable to use the first name of one and the words ‘et al.’
  • Quotes must begin and end with quotation marks.

It is often advised to, wherever possible, avoid the use of footnotes. However, if necessary, footnotes can be used to cite material that might be limitedly available or whenever it is needed to add information presented in a table.

When using footnotes, they must be numbers, in consecutive order, using superscript and also included in an endnote.

References, or a Bibliography as we learn to call it in high school English class, follows a similar set of guidelines.

  • References must follow the corresponding text and / or footnotes in a section titled ‘References’
  • Anything that is referenced and cited in the body of the text must be listed in the reference page and anything that is listed in the reference page must be cited in the body of the text
  • Unlike AMA format, ASA style requires references to be double spaced
  • References are always listed in alphabetical order, using the surnames of the authors
  • Hanging indents should be used on each reference
  • The author’s name always appears last name first.
  • Multiple citations from the same author are listed in order of publication, starting with the earliest publication year.
  • It is acceptable to use six hyphens and a period in place of an author’s name for repeated materials.
  • Book and periodical titles should be italicized. If italic font is not available, these may be underlined.
  • Both the city and state should be used for publication. Foreign cities should include the country name.

You can find out more regarding Paragraph Guide.

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ASA Format Title Page

There are several things to keep in mind when ASA title page format. Harvard Business School offers the following tips for ASA paper format.

ASA writing format

  1. Use a good word processor, like Microsoft Word.
  2. Stick with a 12-point font, Arial or Times New Roman are most widely used.
  3. Print your ASA paper on 8 ½ by 11 white paper
  4. Ensure that all margins are no less than 1 inch from the edge, 1 ¼ is better
  5. All text, including the references, must be double spaced
  6. Book and periodical titles should be in italic (this can be done by pressing CTRL I)
  7. There should be a separate title page that not only has the full title of the manuscript, but also includes the author’s name and the name of the professor or class, if needed.
  8. There should be a separate page that includes a brief 200 word abstract or overview about the paper.
  9. The text should commence on a separate page, and be headed with the title of the paper
  10. The approved format for section headers looks like this:

(Caps, centered)

I am a Second Level Header
(Italics, Upper / Lower Case, Centered)

  1. The start of the paper should not have a heading, this means that you should not use the word INTRODUCTION to signify the start of your paper.
  2. Citations should be used in text. This includes the surnames of all contributing authors and the publication year. Page numbers should be used when relevant, and to identify direct quotes. Page numbers must follow publication years and be separated using colons.

ASA Heading Format

As previously touched upon, there may be times when it is necessary to use headings in your writing. Headings are only acceptable when they do not signify the start of the paper. For example:


Unlike other essays or thesis papers, ASA style writings do not make use of headers at the start of a paper.  It does, however, make use of sub-headings to organize the body paragraphs of a manuscript. Typically, three levels of headings will suffice.


  • First level headings should be in all caps and can be either left justified or centered.
  • Refrain from using bold font
  • Remember not to begin with INTRODUCTION

This is a Second Level Heading

  • Second level headings should be in italics
  • Do not use bold font
  • Use title case (or Capital and Small letters)
  • Either left justify or centered are acceptable

This is a third level heading

  • Again, use italic font
  • Do not use bold font
  • Either left justify or centered are acceptable
  • Capitalize only the first word.

Helpful resource about Formal Business Letter.

ASA Format Example

ASA citation format is strikingly similar to the Chicago method. Each in-text citation includes items like the surname of the contributing author and the year of publication. Generally speaking, the citation is delivered at the end of the sentence. There are also key guidelines that must be followed in order to properly format the entire manuscript.

The following is a complete guide to style for an ASA (American Sociological Association) paper.

Minimum Formatting Requirements

  1. Times New Roman Font, 12-point type
  2. A minimum of 1 inch margin on all four sides
  3. Double space everything, including the references. The first line of each paragraph must be indented.

Example: This is what the font of your manuscript should look like

  1. Font should never be right justified, and words at the end of a line should not be hyphenated.
  2. The first page is always the Title Page. The title should be centered and the paper title and your name should be about one third from the top of the paper. If this paper is for school, remember to include the name of the teacher, the course name and the date.
  3. You should also include a running head – or an abbreviated title – in the upper left corner of all pages. The running head is always fewer than 60 characters.



The Social Influence of Nursery Rhymes in Children’s Books

Kyle A. Man

SOC315: Society and Change

  1. You should include a brief summary of the paper, titled “Abstract” on page two. A summary is less than 200 words.
  2. The body of the paper starts on page three. Unless there is no Abstract, in which it will start on page two.
  3. The titles of all published source materials must be in italics. This includes books, journals, films, blogs, etc.

Whenever you are incorporating someone else’s material into your own work, there are special rules that must be followed as well. Any and all citations will appear in the body of the paper. Footnotes are only used when long notes might distract or confuse the reader. Following the ‘author-date’ method, ASA citations stipulate that the writer will include, at minimum, the surname of the author and the publication year. This is applicable both when using direct quotes and paraphrasing someone else.

When quoting someone else word for word, you must use quotation marks to start and end the quote, and also include the relevant page number (or paragraph number).

Example: “We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” (Lombardi, 1979:101)

The very last page of your manuscript is what is referred to as the References (or the Bibliography). This page includes a comprehensive list of the sources that were cited in the paper. Unlike styles of citation that require sources to be listed in the order they appear in the paper, ASA style asks that sources be listed alphabetically, based on the surname of each author. The first line will start at the left margin, and all subsequent lines will be indented by an average of five to seven spaces. Whenever possible, try to include the complete name of the author, keeping only the first author’s name inverted. All of the words in a title or journal title should be capitalized, the exception being prepositions (between, at, of, etc.), articles (an, a, the), and conjunctions (but, for, and, yet, so). The titles of books and journals are always in italics, and chapter titles will appear inside quotation marks.

Here is an example of the format for a book with more than one author.

Smith, John. 2011. Man of War. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Jones, Beverly and Kate Smith. 2007. The Guide to Societal Change: Bridging the Gap. Berkeley,
CA: University of California Press.

Journal articles are cited in the same manner, regardless of whether they are found online or in print. The ASA format prefers the inclusion of the Digital Object Identifier, or DOI, from all sources, at the end of the citation.

Here is an example:

Smith, John. 2005. “The Rise of Poverty in Middle America: The Wage Crisis.” Global Economic
8(3): 193-207. Doi:11.1006/s13212-011-34

Following the above mentioned style guide will enable you to create a manuscript that is not only properly formatted, but also adheres to the rules of the ASA style.

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