ASA Citation & Format – A Complete Guide

Are you seeking guidance on how to format your academic paper according to the ASA format? Look no further than this blog.

The ASA format, which stands for the American Sociological Association format, offers standardized guidelines for researchers and students in the field of sociology to structure their papers uniformly.

Within this guide, you’ll gain insight into writing in ASA format, one of the citation styles. You’ll learn how to structure the manuscript, incorporate in-text citations, and arrange reference lists following ASA style conventions.

Continue reading to discover how to align your academic papers with ASA style requirements.

What is the ASA Format? The ASA format, an abbreviation for the American Sociological Association format, was established to ensure consistency and clarity in presenting sociological research. It originated from the necessity for standardized guidelines within the field of sociology.

In 1997, the ASA introduced the first edition of the “ASA Style Guide,” offering comprehensive instructions on manuscript preparation, citation, and reference formatting. Over time, the ASA format has evolved through revisions to accommodate changes in the discipline and advancements in publishing practices. Presently, the 6th Edition of the ASA format is in practice.

Significant alterations exist between the 5th and 6th editions of the ASA format. Thus, it’s essential to adhere to our guide to accurately format your academic documents in the latest ASA format.

Let’s delve into the specifics of following ASA formatting style.

Manuscript Formatting in the ASA Style To format your paper in ASA style, adhere to these guidelines:

  • Utilize standard letter-sized (8.5 × 11 inches) paper.
  • Employ 12-point Times New Roman font, or as directed, for all text, including footnotes, references, and endnotes.
  • Maintain double-spacing throughout the entire document.
  • Single-space block quotes.
  • Set margins to a minimum of 1 inch on all four sides.
  • Incorporate a separate title page containing the full paper title (no more than 60 characters), author(s), and institution(s) of author(s), listed vertically for multiple authors, and the date.
  • Include a header on each page, including the title page, comprising the paper title (in uppercase) aligned left and the page number aligned right.
  • Omit “Running head” from the title page; solely include the actual title.
  • Provide a separate page with a concise abstract (150-200 words), if required, preceded by the paper title.
  • Include a list of three to five keywords on the abstract page to aid in identifying the paper’s primary themes.
  • Begin the main text on a separate page, preceded by the paper title.

For using section headings: First-level headings should be in all caps, centered, or left-justified.

Second-level headings should be in italics, using both upper and lower case, centered or left-justified.

Look at the table below to see what correctly formatted headings look like:

Level Format

Use first-level headings in all caps and left-justified. Start using headings after the introduction.

2nd Left Aligned Second-Level Head

second-level headings, which should be italicized, left-justified, and all words except prepositions and conjunctions are capitalized.

3rd   Indented Third-level head 

Third-level headings are italicized, indented, and end with a period. Only capitalize the first word and proper nouns.

Now that you know how to format the manuscript, let’s learn how to cite in-text using the ASA format.

ASA Format In-Text Citation

In the ASA format citation, your text follows a straightforward approach known as the author-date system. This means that you include the author’s last name and the publication year in parentheses at the relevant point in your paper.

Basic In-Text Citation

For instance, if you are mentioning a concept or idea and want to give credit to the author, include their last name and the year of publication.

Here’s an example:

“Sociological research often explores the dynamics of social structures (Benjamin 2010).”

Author’s Name in Sentence

If the author’s name is part of the sentence, you can simply include the publication year in parentheses:

“According to a study by Noah (2010), social structures play a crucial role in sociological research.”

Multiple Authors

When citing multiple authors, list them in the order they appear in the source, separating each with a semicolon:

“Recent studies have shown the impact of globalization on cultural diversity (Jones and Brown 2018; Williams 2019).”

Three or More Authors

For works with three or more authors, use “et al.” after the first author’s name:

“The phenomenon has been widely discussed in recent literature (Davis et al. 2017).”

Direct Quote with Page Number

Remember to include page numbers when quoting directly from a source. For instance:

“As Richards argues, ‘The role of institutions in shaping society cannot be underestimated’ (2010, p. 45).”

Unknown Publication Date

When the publication date of a source is unknown, use n.d. In parentheses after the author’s name. Here’s an example:

In the field of sociology, the role of community networks is crucial for social integration and support (Wallace, n.d.).

Block Quotations

Block quotations are used for longer text passages, typically when quoting four or more lines of prose or three or more lines of poetry. In ASA format, block quotations should be indented and not enclosed in quotation marks.

Here’s an example:

“The impact of globalization on local cultures has been a subject of ongoing debate in sociology. As Turner (2017) argues:

Globalization brings about a profound transformation in the cultural landscape. Local traditions and practices are increasingly influenced by global forces, leading to both cultural homogenization and hybridization. The tension between preserving local identities and adapting to global trends is a central theme in contemporary sociological discourse” (p. 102).

These simple guidelines help maintain clarity and consistency in your in-text citations, ensuring your readers can easily locate the full reference in the bibliography.

Footnotes and Endnotes Formatting

In ASA style, footnotes and endnotes are used sparingly, typically for additional explanations or comments that may disrupt the flow of the main text. Here’s a guide on when and how to use them, along with tips on formatting and content:

When to Use Footnotes or Endnotes?

Use footnotes or endnotes when there is a need to provide additional information or elaborations that might distract from the main text but are still relevant to the content.

Citations: Footnotes or endnotes can be used for citation purposes when the source information is not suitable for in-text citation.

Copyright Permission: If you are using copyrighted material and have received permission to reproduce it, details about this permission can be placed in a footnote or endnote.

How to Format?

  • Number footnotes or endnotes consecutively throughout the paper using Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.).
  • Place the footnote number at the end of the sentence or clause, following any punctuation marks.
  • In the footnote or endnote itself, provide detailed information about the source or additional information. Ensure clarity and completeness in your explanations.

Tips for Footnotes or Endnotes

  • When using footnotes or endnotes for citations, include all the necessary details (author, title, publication information, etc.) just as you would in the reference list.
  • Do not use footnotes or endnotes for information that is already clear in the main text. Reserve them for genuinely supplementary content.

For example: Consider the following sentence:

“Sociological studies on urbanization have shown various impacts on community dynamics and social structures1.”

In this example, the footnote provides additional information about the studies mentioned in the main text. This allows readers to explore the topic further without disrupting the flow of the paragraph.

ASA Format Reference Page

The bibliographical section at the end of your paper in the ASA format is called the reference page.

To understand how to reference ASA format, here are the requirements for formatting the reference lists:

  • Alphabetical Order: Arrange your reference list alphabetically by the last names of the first authors. If there is no author, use the first significant word of the title
  • Double-Spacing: Ensure that your reference list is double-spaced, providing clarity and readability
  • Hanging Indentation: Use a hanging indentation for each reference. This means the first line is flush left, and subsequent lines are indented
  • Italicization: Italicize the titles of books and journals
  • Capitalization: Capitalize the first word of the title, subtitle (if any), and proper nouns. Keep the rest in lowercase

Now, let’s take a look at ASA format examples for citing different types of sources in the reference list of your academic paper.

For Books

Single Author:

Format: Author’s Last name, First name. Year of publication. Title of Book. Place of publication: Publisher.


Rivers, Angela. 2018. The Sociological Imagination. New York: ABC Publications.

Two Authors:

Format: Author1’s Last name, Author1’s First name, and Author2’s First name Author2’s Last name. Year of publication. Title of Book. Place of publication: Publisher.


Mitchell, David, and Rachel Turner. 2016. Social Change in the Modern Era. Boston: XYZ Books.

For Books without Authors

Format: Title of Encyclopedia. Year of publication. Place of publication: Publisher.


Encyclopedia of Sociology. 2015. New York: LMN Press.

For Journal Articles

Format: Author’s Last name, First name. Year of publication. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal Volume number(Issue number): Page range.


Roberts, Olivia. 2020. “Gender Inequality in the Workplace.” Journal of Gender Studies 15(2): 87-102.

For Articles with DOI

Format: Author’s Last name, First name. Year of publication. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal Volume number(Issue number): Page range. DOI.


Anderson, Taylor. 2019. “The Role of Technology in Modern Education.” Journal of Educational Technology 12(3): 45-60. DOI:10.1234/jet.2019.1234567890.

For Web Sources

Format: Author’s Last name, First name. Year of publication. “Title of Webpage.” Name of Website. URL.


Turner, Michael. 2019. “The Impact of Social Media on Youth Culture.” Sociology Online.

For Newspapers

Format: Author’s Last name, First name. Year of publication. “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper, Date, Page.


Cooper, Rachel. 2017. “Rising Unemployment Rates in Urban Areas.” The New York Times, July 10, A1.

For Magazines

Format: Author’s Last name, First name. Year of publication. “Title of Article.” Title of Magazine, Month issue, Page range.


Turner, Emma. 2021. “Environmental Activism in the 21st Century.” Sociology Today, May, 34-40.

For Government Websites

Format: Government Agency. Year of publication. “Title of Webpage.” URL.


U.S. Census Bureau. 2020. “Population Trends in the United States.”

For Government Documents

Format: Government Department. Year of publication. Title of Report. Place of publication: Government Printing Office.


Department of Health and Human Services. 2018. Report on Public Health Initiatives. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

Look at this sample reference page that follows the exact rules of the ASA format:

By following the above guidelines, you can precisely format your academic papers in strict accordance with the ASA format. Just keenly follow our guide, and you’ll have it easy, crafting a paper that fits the required format exactly.

To wrap things up, if you stick to the steps we talked about, your academic writing will be clear, consistent, and professional, thanks to the ASA format. Whether you’re putting in citations while you write or making a list of references, ASA format makes everything neat and organized.

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