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ASA is an academic referencing style by American Sociological Association to assist students in referencing and citing of their essays and other academic papers. It is a reference style suitable for students studying sociology. Those who take their major in sociology or pursuing master’s degree in sociology rely much on ASA editorial guide.

ASA relates closely to American Psychological Style (APA) style. The general format is to cite references in parenthetical referencing. All references must appear in the section at the end of the paper with the title “References” rather than the “works cites” in MLA style. Unlike MLA, ASA parenthetical references include the year of publication. The Author-Date in-text citation is a widely recognizable system on ASA features. It emphasizes on the dates you carry over to the references section where the date is the first information piece following the name of the author or authors.

Most reference management software programs support ASA style making formatting a straightforward task. You can use it with programs such as Endnote, Zotero, Procite and RefWorks.

Purpose of ASA Referencing Guide

Many Universities widely accept ASA style for writing sociology papers. It is designed to help authors in preparing their academic work and manuscripts for ASA journals or other publications.

  • It brings an understanding about the proper way to organize and present content, detailed information or reference scholarly sources. ASA will guide you on mechanics of style for various sections of your sociology academic writing.
  • It specifies punctuation and arrangement of the footnotes and bibliographies. American Sociology Association which is the main sociologists’ scholarly organization in the U.S defines the standards in a publication called ASA Style Guide. Comparison to Other
Academic Styles

Text Formatting and Margins

Write all the text in the paper in 12-point of easy to read format such as Times New Roman. Double space your content even at the footnotes or according to specifications by your course instructor. All sides on the margins should be at least 1 ¼ inches or according to instructions the course instructor.

Title Page

An ASA title page should be separate. It is the section you write the full title of your manuscript, your name, and institution. If there is more than one institution list the names vertically. Also, indicate the word count for your document including the footnotes and references.

ASA style has a title footnote that includes the address of the corresponding author who is the person receiving correspondence regarding your work, funding, additional credits or acknowledgments. This footnote is usually not needed for sociology classes. It is essential to consult your faculty whether to include or leave it.


If your instructor requires an abstract, type it on a separate page. It should immediately follow your title page.

  • The heading should be the document's title
  • Limit the abstract to just a single paragraph of 150-200 words.
  • Do not include the name of the author


An ASA paper with an abstract should have keywords on it. List three to five words that help in identifying the main themes in your manuscript.

First Page

Begin the first page of your text with the title on a new page after the title and abstract page. It is the beginning of your paper’s body. Enhance readability by organizing points in the body under subheadings. Three different heading levels are usually sufficient.

First-Level Head

  • Place the heads in caps and left-justify them.
  • Do not use bold font
  • Do not start your manuscript with any heading for instance introduction

Second-level Head

  • Write second-level heads in italics and left-justify
  • Do not bold font
  • Use title case

Third-level head

  • Write third-level heads in italics and left justify
  • Do not use bold font
  • Only capitalize the first word

Footnotes and endnotes

You use footnotes and endnotes when citing materials of limited accessibility, expanding upon the text or adding the information you presented in a table.

An academic paper in ASA uses endnotes more frequently than the footnotes. You should, however, use both of them sparingly.

  • If possible, the general rule is to use just one of them throughout the text without mixing. The exception is to use a footnote for tables and Title page and endnotes in the rest of the document if you expect someone to use it as a manuscript for a sociology journal.
  • Number your footnotes or endnotes consecutively throughout your paper with superscripted Arabic numerals
  • If you use notes, place them at the bottom of a page with the material you are referencing.
  • If using endnotes, put them at the end of your paper in a separate section after the references. Type your endnotes in a numerical order and double-spaced as a separate section. Write a title Notes or Endnotes.
  • Every note should begin with the same superscripted number in the text.

Page Numbering

Number your pages consecutively -1, 2, 3…- beginning with a title page. Include references Page or follow the specifications by the course instructor.

Tables and Figures

Place each figure or table on a separate page at the end of your paper. Use a descriptive title with sufficient explanation for the reader to understand the meaning even without referring to the text.

  • Number your tables consecutively: Table 1, Table 2 or Table 3.
  • Number figures consecutively: Figure 1, Figure 2.
  • For tables, provide the full headings for each column and row. Avoid abbreviations wherever it is possible. E.g. spell out the word percent full word in the headings.

Reference page formatting

References follow the text in a section with the heading “REFERENCES”. Use this first level heading format we identified earlier.

  • Double space all the references and use hanging indent.
  • Use title case for all the titles capitalizing all words except the prepositions like through, between or of and articles such as a, an and the. Conjunctions such as or and, but should be in lower caps.
  • Capitalize the first word only in hyphenated compound words unless it is followed by an adjective or proper noun (for example you should write it in upper caps in "Anti-American" but not in "Self-preservation."
  • Arrange all references in alphabetical order in first authors’ last names.
  • Include the first names for all authors instead of their initials. You could use the first name the first name and initials for middle Name if the author used the same in the publication.
  • List all the authors. ASA does not accept the use of et al. in the reference section except for works authored by committees.
  • Include the full name in all your references for repeated authors or editors. This change came in the third edition of ASA Style
Guide. Arrange all references by the same author chronologically starting with the oldest.

Examples of References for the Same Author

Ronald, L. William. 1996. Sociology Writing Style. Washington, ASA Press

Ronald, L. William. 1999. Sociology Academic Writing. Washington: ASA Press.

Ronald, L. William. 2000. “Sociology Writing Style Revisited.” Sociology Scholars 60:100-120.

Book by one author: Last Name of the Author, First Name. Year of publication. Title. City, State Abb./Country of Publisher: Publisher.

Book by two authors or more: Last Name of the Author, First, and Author First Last(without a comma). Year of Publication. Title. City, State Abb./Country of the Publisher: Publisher.

You do not include the abbreviations of publisher’s state when:

  • The City location is well-known
  • When the publisher’s name includes the city such as University of California Press

Electronic Book: Author Last Name, First. Publishing Year.Title. City, State Abb./Publisher’s Country. Publisher: Retrieved Month Day, Year(URL).

E-Book chapter: Author Last Name, First. Publication Year. “Title of the Chapter/Article.”Pp. Including the page numbers in the title, edited by Write First Initial. Middle Initial. Last name. City, State Abbreviation/ Publisher’s country: Publisher.

Multi-volume works: Last name of the Author, First. Publishing Year. The title of the Series. Volume Number, Volume Title. City, State Abb./Country of the Publisher: Publisher.

Journal Articles Available in:

Print: Author Last Name, First Name. Year of Publishing. “Title.” Journal Name Volume number (issue number): Include page numbers.

Online: Author Last Name, First. Publishing Year. “Title.” Journal's Title volume number (issue number): include page number if available. Retrieved Month Day, Year (URL).

You can include DOI: Number if it is available after page number instead of the URL.

Print and Online: Author’s Last, First. Publishing Year. “Title.”Name of the Journal Volume #(issue#): Include page number if available

Magazine Article

Print: Author’s Last, First Name.Year of Pub. “Title.” Name of The Magazine, Month Year, pp. including page numbers.

Online: Author Last name, First. Publication Year, “Title.” Magazine Name, Month Day. Retrieved Month Day, Year(URL)

Print and Online: Author Last Name, First. Year of Publication. “Title.” Magazine Name, Day Month Day, pp. Include page numbers.

Multi-page or whole internet website: Corporate Author Name or last Name, First name of the Author. Date of Publication. “Title.” Retrieved Month Day, Year(URL).

Report Published Online: Author Last Name, First. Publication Date. Report’s Title. Sponsoring Organization(If there is any). Location of the Sponsoring Organization: Publisher. Retrieved Month Day, Year (URL).

Newspaper Article (Print): Last Name of the Author, First Name. Year of Publication. “Article Title,” Newspaper Title, Month Day, pp. 15-18.

Newspaper Article Online: Author Last Name, First. Year or Publication. “Title.” Newspaper Title, Month Day of Publication.

Articles published online do not require page numbers.

Social Media Sources

References to any social media source by footnoting them in body text where you referenced them but not in the reference page. The footnote should include the title of the page and URL.

Your course instructor is an excellent source of information for any source that you are not sure about how to reference.

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