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Academic Coaching & Writing

V. Using APA Style in Academic Writing: Line Spacing

Jan 12, 2015 by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

Of all the difficulties that attend the pursuit of academic writing, it seems that manuscript formatting ought to be the least complicated. Unfortunately, authors often run afoul of APA Style through inconsistent line spacing.

The basic rule for manuscripts in APA Style is simple: Double-space everything. Double-space on the title page, in the abstract, and in the text of your paper. Double-space the footnotes, headings, quotations, references, appendices, table notes, and figure captions. You cannot go wrong if you set “Line spacing” to “Double” in your word processing software and leave it that way.

With that said, there are a few places where some variation is permitted (although not required). To improve readability, single or one-and-a-half spacing may be used in tables and figures. Likewise, triple or quadruple spacing may be used to set off display equations.

You may have seen block quotations, case studies, or other parts of a paper presented with condensed spacing in published works. Keep in mind that the APA Publication Manual is intended to guide you in producing a manuscript that is easy for reviewers to read; it will look different from a published article.

One final caveat: If you are preparing a dissertation, your university or department may have formatting requirements that differ from those presented in the APA Publication Manual. Individual publishers may also have their own guidelines for articles, proceedings, and so forth (usually found in the “Instructions to Authors” section of the publisher’s website). These instructions take precedence over the normal requirements of APA Style. Reading and following them carefully will enhance your chances of success.

We’d like to know if you have questions about using APA Style. You can be certain that if you are not quite sure about something that others are struggling with the same thing.

  • Lisa Lewis says:

    Jul 25, 2018 at 11:05 am

    I am inserting long sections of interview transcripts between double spaced chapters of prose. Should the interview transcripts have a different line spacing such as single spaced? Jeff replies: "Double-space between all text lines of the manuscript. . . . Never use single-spacing or one-and-a-half spacing except in tables or figures" (8.03, p. 229). There is no exception for interview transcripts.

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