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A Guide To ASA Format And Free ASA Citation With Examples

May 6, 2022 | 0 comments

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May 6, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

ASA format (American Sociological Association) is a specific style of referencing used for papers in sociology. This post will cover the basics, get into some specifics and then point you to a tool to help you make sure your paper is properly formatted when it’s time to turn it in.

The first thing you need to know about the ASA format is that there are two parts:

  • your bibliography (or references list) and
  • in-text citations throughout your paper.

In addition, there are special rules for formatting the entire paper. The general guidelines are here, including:

  • double-spacing throughout the paper,
  • no extra spaces between paragraphs or sections and
  • 12-point font size

Read also: How to Cite with  IEEE Citation Style Examples

What Is ASA Format

As you may have figured out by now, ASA stands for the American Sociological Association. The ASA style guide is designed to help writers with their writing by citing sources used within their work and formatting the entire document to be consistent. If you ever find yourself in a sociology class or working on a project in which you will need to cite sources using the ASA format, this guide will be very helpful for you!

Basics of ASA Citation

The simplest way to cite sources is to use parenthetical references or in-text citations. This method involves placing relevant source information in parentheses after a quote or paraphrasing.

General guidelines:

  • Ensure all written text (including footnotes, etc.) is in font size 12 and double-spaced.
  • All pages, tables, figures, footnotes, and endnotes are numbered sequentially (1,2,3…) or (Table 1, Table 2, Table 3…).
  • The page numbers should appear at the top on the right-hand side.
  • The title page should contain your chosen title. It also needs to include your name, your instructor’s name and course/section number, and the date you submitted it. No quotation marks are needed on the title page of an ASA paper!

ASA Title Page Format

The ASA title page will probably be the first page of your completed paper. It’s where you should include the running head, title of the paper, author’s name, and institution name. If you’ve never written an ASA paper before, you’re probably wondering what a running head is. The running head is a shortened version of your essay title that appears on every page in the top left corner (flush left). It should not exceed 50 characters, including punctuation and spaces.

The next item that needs to go on your ASA format cover page is your essay’s title. Next to the running head on the right-hand side of every page (flush right) is where you’ll place this information. Don’t make it too long or too short—try to keep it between 10 and 12 words (or around 60 characters). On this line, capitalize all major words except prepositions, articles, and conjunctions when they don’t occur at the beginning or end of a title.

Your full name as the author of this work will be directly underneath your essay’s title. To avoid confusion for anyone reading this work in its published form, write out your entire given name if any initials are present (e.g., John O’Malley instead of J O’Malley). This should also be centered like everything else on this first page! Just remember to keep it concise—no nicknames allowed! Finally, no need for fancy formatting here; center these items on separate lines under each other with double spacing between them

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ASA Abstract

An abstract summarizes your (published or unpublished) research paper, usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long. A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes: an abstract lets readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly to decide whether to read the full paper;

  • it lets readers decide whether the research will be useful or relevant to their interests; and
  • it helps readers understand what you are doing so they can focus on what you’re saying rather than how you’re saying it.

The writing should be clear and concise without jargon. The purpose of an abstract is to summarize the major aspects of a written work so that readers can quickly become acquainted with the content and scope of the work without having to read much, if any, of its full text. Abstracts state the purpose, methods, scope, and results/conclusions of your research so that people unfamiliar with your subject area will know exactly what you did and how you went about doing it.


In the body of your paper, ASA Style requires that subheadings be left-justified and in bold. You should capitalize the first letter; all others are lowercase.

You may have a maximum of four levels of subheadings:

  • Letters in caps signify the first-level subheading
  • Do not use bold font
  • Do not begin with a heading such as Introduction
  1. Second-Level Subheading
  • Italicized
  • Title case (the first letter of each word is capitalized except for articles and prepositions)
  • Do not use bold font
  1. Third-level subheading
  • Italicized
  • The only first word is capitalized
  • you should follow it with a period
  • It should be indented at the beginning of the paragraph

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General ASA Citation Rules

Here’s a rule of thumb: You must cite the source whenever you take an idea or some text from another source (or summarize others’ ideas). You should also cite sources when reporting or directly quoting someone else’s work and paraphrasing others’ ideas.

It would help if you always gave credit to sources, but especially when:

  • Using a direct quotation (including a summary sentence in quotation marks);
  • Describing or discussing other people’s research or data;
  • Paraphrasing someone else’s thoughts/theory/ideas;
  • When summarizing information from other sources. Let’s look at each case:

ASA In-Text Citations

An in-text citation is used to indicate a direct or indirect source in the ASA format. It helps readers find the sources you used when writing your document. You will use in-text citations to refer to specific parts of your sources, including page numbers, chapter numbers, or paragraph numbers. You should use the author-date format in your ASA citations in most cases.

When using this format, you must include the author’s last name and publication year inside parentheses directly after their corresponding quote or paraphrased section. However, if the source contains multiple authors, you need to include both authors’ names and separate them by commas: (Smith & Jones 2020). If there are more than two authors for a particular source, then list just one author’s name followed by “et al.,” which means “and others”: (Smith et al. 2020).

When citing more than one work at a time from a single author within parentheses, include all dates separated by semicolons: (Smith 2019; Jones 2020). If there are works that share the same authors with different publication years but have some differences between them (for example, adding new chapters), cite each work separately as it appears in your paper: (Jones 2017a; Jones 2017b).

You should avoid using too many direct quotes since they can make your paper appear disconnected and poorly written. Instead of relying on quoting other writers’ opinions and thoughts verbatim from their works too often throughout your paper—whenever possible—try making a few injections that are more personal into your original prose whenever possible. This will allow you to demonstrate how easily you can integrate ideas from other peoples’ research seamlessly while still maintaining your voice throughout!

1. How and When to Use In-Text Citations

You must properly cite all direct quotes and paraphrased passages to avoid plagiarism.

  • Cite the source at the end of the sentence using parentheses containing the author’s last name and year of publication.
  • If you do not know the author’s name, use a shortened version of the title in place of the author’s name in your citation; you should also use italics in place of quotation marks.
  • If there are two authors, list both names separated by “and.” Example: (Smith and Allen 2013)
  • If there are three or more authors, list only the first author followed by “et al.” (meaning “and others”) in your parenthetical citation. Examples: (Johnson et al. 2012) or (Johnson et al.) if referencing multiple pages

2. ASA Citation for Multiple Authors

The ASA citation style has three ways to cite works with multiple authors. For example, the authors of this article are David Becker, Daniel Barker, Mark LaPointe, and Lindsay Kilgour.

  • If a work has two or three authors, cite them in full every time you refer to their work in the text: (Becker, Barker, and LaPointe 2018).
  • If a work has four to six authors, list all their names the first time you refer to their work. After that, use only the first author followed by “et al.” and the date: (Becker et al. 2018).
  • If a work has seven or more authors, list only the first author followed by “et al.” and the date for all citations, both within parentheses and in references: (Stanley et al. 2011).

3. Citing Quotes

Here’s how to cite a quote from the source and a secondary source.

When citing from the source and including the author’s words in your paper, use double quotation marks for a short quote and single quotation marks for quotes within quotes. If you need to omit words, use an ellipsis (…) in place of the removed text. If you’d like to add some words or correct any grammar or spelling errors in the quoted material, put them in brackets [like this]. For longer quotes, use block quotes by indenting all lines of the quoted text (by one inch) + using no quotation marks. Including parenthetical citations is also important: include the author’s last name and page number(s) at the end of your quote inside parentheses.

ASA Reference Page

The reference page lists all the sources you used in your paper. In ASA format, this page should be titled “References.”

There is no bolding or italicizing on your reference page. The title “References” should be centered at the top of the page. Each source is listed as a separate entry. The first line for each entry is left justified and indented 0.5 inches from the second and subsequent lines inside that entry (a hanging indent). All entries have a hanging indent, even if there is only one line of text in the citation!

You’ll want to order these citations alphabetically by author’s last name. You do not need to use quotation marks or italics unless used in the source title, but capitalize only the first letter of each source title and subtitle, just like you would in an APA paper (with some exceptions).

How to Cite Books in ASA:

You need to include the following information about books in ASA format:

  • The title of the book.
  • The author’s name. Put the last name first, followed by a comma, then the first initial.
  • The year of publication is in parentheses. Follow this with a period, and then list the publication location (the city) and publisher (separate these with a colon).

Example: Smith, J.J., Jones, A., and Williams, S.M. 2010. Statistics for Sociologists in America CAN: Oxford University Press.

How to Cite E-Books in ASA:

To cite an e-book in ASA, include the following information:

  • Author’s first and last name.
  • Year of publication.
  • Title of the book. Also, state whether it is a second or subsequent edition.
  • Publisher’s name and location. (If no publisher is listed, use “n.p.:”)
  • DOI (if available) or URL of the source (if no DOI number exists). Here’s an example:

Hosseini, K., 2000. The Kite Runner (1st ed.). New York: Riverhead Books. http://dx.doi-org/106400181543

How to Cite a Journal Article in ASA:

How to Cite a Journal Article in ASA:

  • Author’s last name, first initial(s). Year article was published. “Title of article.” Title of journal, volume number(issue number), page numbers. DOI or URL.

For example:

Bennett, D., & Haggerty, K. 2019. Displacing legal reform as social process: The contribution of a mobilities lens in research on criminal justice interventions for young people who offend. Journal of Criminal Justice, 62(1), 109-117. https://doi-org/10/1016/j2crij220172471

How to Cite a Magazine Article in ASA:

Include the following:

  • Author’s last name, author’s first name. “Title of Article.” Magazine Title, Month Year, pages.

If the author is unknown:

  • Magazine Title, Month Year, pages.

If your source has editors or compilers instead of authors:

  • Editor last name, editor first name (ed.). “Title of Article.” Magazine Title, Month Year, pages.

Example of an ASA reference: Geary, Rachel. 2012. “The Issue with Mastery Learning.” New York Times, April 2002. Pp. 15-23.

How to Cite a Web Page ASA Style in ASA:

To cite a web page in ASA, you should include the following:

  • Author name(s) and initial(s)
  • Year published
  • Title of the website/webpage (in italics)
  • URL (without the https:// or https://)

Example of an ASA reference: Lee, Bruce. 03.09.2004. Birth of a Nation. History.com. Retrieved 18.01.2017. {link}

Footnotes and Endnotes

If you need to add extra information not directly related to the main text, you should include either a footnote or an endnote. Footnotes are placed at the bottom of a page. Endnotes are collected together at the end of a chapter, volume, or entire work.

In ASA format, footnotes and endnotes are rarely used. You may choose to include one if your readers must see some additional information. It would help if you did not use footnotes and endnotes to cite your sources—you can do this with parenthetical references in-text and on the References page.

ASA Format Example Paper

Below is an example of an ASA paper formatted to be used in high school classrooms. It’s a good example because it’s concise and easy to understand, but it also uses all the necessary elements of a proper research paper.

ASA Format Example


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