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A Guide to ASA Format and ASA Citation

What Is ASA

ASA is a citation style used in the field of sciology. ASA, as an abbreviation, stands for the “American Sociological Association”. ASA format citation is mostly used by scholars, academics, and students of sociology in their manuscripts or articles that they submit to the sociology department or field of sociology overall. If the ASA citation format is not used correctly, it might put the work in the position of being discredited or, perhaps, it might lead to its acknowledgements being postponed along with its writer’s career development.

While using ASA citation format, it is necessary to pay close attention to the certain parts of the paper the format affects, such as the title page, abstract, heading format, in-text citations, reference list, and its formatting specifics.

ASA citation style bears a close resemblance to the widely used APA style. The biggest similarity is that both styles use parenthetical references. These appear at the end of the paper in the “References” section. MLA style papers, for instance, call that section “Works Cited” and format it in a different way. Another noticeable feature of the ASA citation format is its emphasis on the date. It always follows the author’s name.

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Basics of ASA Citation

There are a few general formatting requirements from the ASA Style Guide that need to be applied when using the ASA citation format.

Stick to the following format, unless instructed otherwise:

  • Make sure all written text (including footnotes, etc.) is in font size 12 and is double-spaced.
  • Place margins of 1 ¼ inches on each side.
  • There should be a separate title page that includes the title of the paper, names of all the authors, the word count, and title footnote (it should include the name of the author(s), addresses, credits, grants, and acknowledgements)
  • An abstract should also be included if necessary. It should have a title and be about 200 words long.
  • Pages, tables, figures, footnotes, and endnotes are numbered sequentially (1,2,3…) or (Table 1, Table 2, Table 3…)

ASA Title Page

The title page is the first thing one sees when picking up a paper. It is your job to make it look sharp and to create it in accordance with all of the rules so that it looks presentable and professional.

The ASA citation format title page usually contains the following information:

  • ASA header, which is also the full title of the work
  • Names and institutions of the writers
  • A total word count
  • Address of the author, or one who receives communication and feedback regarding the work
  • Credits or acknowledgments of all contributors or sponsors
  • Grants/funding of the research or the paper

ASA Abstract

The abstract appears on a separate page between the title page and the beginning of the essay. It usually contains about 150-200 words. If an abstract page is included, it often lists several keywords that help identify the essay’s main points of study.


The ASA citation format uses subheadings to organize body paragraphs. They do not serve to simply name the paragraphs of the document; using “Introduction” in a subheading wouldn’t be a great choice.

There are three levels of subheadings. Subheadings in ASA formatting are always left-aligned and are never written in the bold letters. Note that the editing style of the following subheadings correspond with the way they should appear in the text:

  • 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
  • Only first word is capitalized
  • Should be followed by a period
  • Should be indented in the beginning of the paragraph

General ASA Citation Rules

There are a few simple rules when it comes to the ASA writing style:

  • This type of work avoids using the first-person, unless instructed otherwise.
  • Since the paper will be heavily referenced, it is best to avoid giving opinions—unless the essay is argumentative.
  • The writing must be straightforward and written in the active voice. Jargon, common expressions, slang, and superlatives are always best avoided.
  • Words like ”percent” and “verses” are always spelled and not abbreviated, unless they appear as data in tables or graphs.
  • Gendered terms are only used if they are crucial in the specific analysis. Otherwise, avoid using references such as “mankind” and instead use non-gendered terms such as “humanity” or “the global population”, etc.
  • Racial and ethnic stereotyping is another thing to be cautious of. Be specific when describing a race or ethnicity. Use Japanese instead of Asian; Mexican instead of Latino.
  • If the text requires acronym usage, provide the full name with the acronym in parentheses. After this, you can stick to the acronym:
    (first time) Based on a report conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)…
    (later in the text) The CIA report concludes…

ASA In-Text Citations

How and When to Use In-Text Citations

The ASA citation format is similar to APA when it comes to in-text citations and they are used when presenting information from any source. The general rule for American Sociological Association citations is to state the last name of the author and the initial publishing date of the referenced material. Here are some in-text citation examples:

  • If the author’s name is in the sentence, simply include the year:

ASA Citation for Multiple Authors

Below are a few examples of using ASA in-text citations for multiple authors.

  • For two, write both their surnames, followed by the year of publication.

·        Citing Quotes

  • Short quotations in the body of the text should have quotation marks. Quotations of more than 40 words are called block quotations and should be offset from the rest of the text with a single space. When using block quotes in ASA citation format, omit quotation marks. The works are cited as usual, although besides the year of the publication, the page number should also be included. The year is separated from the pagination with a semicolon.

ASA Reference Page

The ASA citation reference page should start with the word REFERENCES. All references are double-spaced and are placed using a hanging indent. Capitalize the first letter of everything except for prepositions, articles, and conjunctions—although you should capitalize them if they are in the beginning of the reference’s title or subtitle.
References are listed in alphabetical order based on the authors’ last names.

  • First and middle names are included for all authors unless they used initials in the publication.
  • If the author repeats, still include their full name on all the references. In that case, arrange the work in chronological order from oldest to newest.
  • If the same author is in both a single-authored reference as the first author and in a multi-authored reference, you should place single-authored references first.
  • When you are including multiple works by the same author(s) from the same year, include letters after the year and list all of the references from one author alphabetically.
  • Make sure to include all of the authors of the publications. You may not use et al in the REFERENCES section.

The ASA reference page looks similar to APA with a few deviations. Here is how to cite the most common types of references, like our essay writers online do:

How to Cite Books:

Author [Last, First]. Year of Publication. Title (italicized). Place of Publishing: Publisher.

Footnotes and Endnotes

Footnotes and endnotes come into play when you need to expand the text, add or explain information from the table, or cite materials with limited access.

Endnotes are more likely than footnotes to be used. It is better to choose whether you will be using endnotes or footnotes in your ASA format paper and then use one or the other consistently throughout the paper. Each entry should not exceed 100 words. They are usually placed at the bottom of the page that the reference is on.

Footnotes appear on the same page as the material being underlined or expanded upon. They should be numbered in the order they appear using Arabic numerals.

Endnotes are listed at the end of the paper after the ‘References’ section.
Both footnotes and endnotes are numbered for the ASA citation. There must always be some harmony in how they are utilized.


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