Table formatting according to APA

How to format tables in APA Style?

Before formatting tables you have created to support the existing data in your article, you should consider checking the following questions to ensure whether embedding tables is necessary or whether it the data could be presented otherwise:

  • Is the table necessary?
  • Is the entire table  single or double-spaced (including the title, headings, and notes)?
  • Are all comparable tables presented consistently?
  • Is the title brief but explanatory?
  • Does every column have a column heading?
  • Are all abbreviations; special use of italics, parentheses, and dashes; and special symbols explained?
  • Are the notes organized according to the convention of general, specific, probability?
  • Are all vertical rules eliminated?
  • If the table or its data are from another source, is the source properly cited?
  • Is the table referred to in the text?

After having checked these questions, it is useful to illustrate data that requires two or more columns in a table. Otherwise it is sufficient to explain the data in the text. Data should be organized logically in several columns, so not everything has to be represented in a table.

The figure below represents a general example of how a table can be formatted according to APA Guidelines.

Example of how a table should be formatted correctly according to APA guidelines.

Numbers: Beginning at the top, you should number all tables with Arabic numerals sequentially. If the manuscript includes an appendix with tables, then you should identify the various tables with capital letter and Arabic numerals (e.g. Table A1, Table B2).

How to take care of the headings and body of the table?

Headings: As far as the headings are concerned, keep them short, but clear, so that they do not surpass the widest entry in the column. All columns must have headings, even the stub column (see example structure), which customarily lists the major independent variables.

Body: The basic rule when you report data is consistency. Therefore, numbers should be expressed in a consistent way (always use the same decimal places) and the unit of measurement as well as the number of decimal places should not be changed in the core of the table.

The figure below illustrates an example of a table and the colored boxes should indicate how the several parts of the table are called specifically, so that you can refer to it easier.

Concrete example of correctly formatted table. Coloured columns indicate the function of each part of that table that is explained in the article.

The most difficult task, nevertheless, is how to format notes below the table. There are three types of notes for tables that must all be placed below the table in the following order:

1.       General notes = provide information about the table as a whole and explain what the table in general illustrates and what message it intends to convey. Put explanations, abbreviations and symbols here.

An example of a general note might be the following:

Note. The racial categories used by the US Census (African-American, Asian American, Latinos/as, Native-American, and Pacific Islander) have been collapsed into the category “non-White.” E = excludes respondents who self-identified as “White” and at least one other “non-White” race.

2.       Specific notes = They give information about a particular column of the table and can be indicated by using superscript lowercase letter (e.g. a, b, c) and order the superscripts from left to right, top to bottom. Each table’s first footnote must be the superscript a.

Example: a n = 823. b One participant in this group was diagnosed with schizophrenia during the survey.

3.       Probability notes = provide the reader with the results of the texts for statistical significance. Asterisks indicate the values for which the null hypothesis is rejected, with the probability (p value) specified in the probability note. Such notes are required only when relevant to the data in the table.



As being part of EFPSA’s JEPS team, Sina Scherer works as JEPS Bulletin’s editor and is currently enrolled in the last year of her Master programme in Work and Organizational Psychology at the Westfälische Wilhelmsuniversität Münster. Her fields of interest cover the areas of Intercultural Psychology, Personality and Organizational Psychology such as Health Psychology.

About the author

Sina Scherer Sina Scherer, studying at University of Münster, Germany, and University of Padova, Italy. I have previously worked as JEPS Bulletin Editor and am active in a NMUN project simulating the political work of the United Nations as voluntary work. I am interested in cognitive neuroscience and intercultural psychology, anthropology and organizational psychology (aspects of work-life balance, expatriation).