Skip to Main Content

APA 7: Tables

Sample Tables

Parts of a Table, Illustrated

Reproduced from American Psychological Association publication manual (7th ed.).

Table Components

Number: The table number (e.g., Table 1) appears above the table title and body in bold font. Number tables in the order in which they are mentioned in your paper.

Title: The table title appears one double-spaced line below the table number. Give each table a brief but descriptive title, and capitalize the table title in italic title case.

Headings: All tables should include column headings, including a stub heading (heading for the leftmost, or stub, column). The heading “Variable” is often used for the stub column if no other heading is suitable. Center column headings and capitalize them in sentence case.

Body: The table body includes all the rows and columns of a table (including the headings row). A cell is the point of intersection between a row and a column.

The table body may be single-spaced, one-and-a-half-spaced, or double-spaced.

Left-align the information in the leftmost column or stub column of the table body (but center the heading).

In general, center information in all other cells of the table. However, left-align the information if doing so would improve readability, particularly when cells contain lots of text.

Note: Three types of notes (general, specific, and probability) appear below the table as needed to describe contents of the table that cannot be understood from the table title or body alone (e.g., definitions of abbreviations, copyright attribution, explanations of asterisks used to indicate p values). Include table notes only as needed.

Adapted from American Psychological Association publication manual (7th ed.).

Table Body

The main part of the table, the table body, contains information organized in cells. Information in a table body may be in the form of numbers, words, or a mixture of both. The body of the table (including table headings) may be single-spaced, one-and-a-half-spaced, or double-spaced, depending on which presentation most effectively conveys information to readers (e.g., single spacing may allow a table to fit on one page). In the stub column of the table, center the stub heading and align the entries flush left beneath it. The entries in all other cells of the table should be centered. Use sentence case for all word entries in the table body.

Decimal Values: Express numerical values to the number of decimal places that the precision of measurement justifies. If possible, carry all comparable values to the same number of decimal places. Numerical values should be centered in the column and aligned on the decimal.

Empty Cells: If a cell cannot be filled because data are not applicable, leave the cell blank. Use a general or specific table note if you need to explain why the cell is blank or the element is inapplicable. If a cell cannot be filled because data were not obtained or are not reported, insert a dash in that cell and explain the use of the dash in the general note to the table.

Adapted from American Psychological Association publication manual (7th ed.).

Table Notes

Tables may have three kinds of notes, which are placed below the body of the table: general notes, specific notes, and probability notes. Some tables do not require table notes at all.

General Note: A general note qualifies, explains, or provides information relating to the table as a whole and explains any abbreviations; symbols; special use of italics, bold, or parentheses; and the like. The general note also includes any acknowledgments that a table is reprinted or adapted from another source. General notes are designated by the word “Note” (italicized) followed by a period. Explanations of abbreviations and copyright attributions for reprinted or adapted tables appear at the end of the general note, in that order.

Note. Factor loadings greater than .45 are shown in bold. M = match process; N = nonmatch process.

Specific Note: A specific note refers to a particular column, row, or cell. Specific notes are indicated by superscript lowercase letters (e.g., a, b, c). Do not add specific notes to a table title; instead, use a general note. Within each table that has specific notes, order the superscripts from left to right and from top to bottom, starting at the top left and beginning with the letter “a.” The corresponding specific note below the table begins with the same superscript letter. Place a superscript space before the superscript letter in the table body (e.g., Group a). Place a superscript space after the superscript letter in the specific note. This space prevents specific notes from getting caught by spell-check and improves readability.

a n = 25. b This participant did not complete the trials.

Probability Note: A probability note describes how asterisks and other symbols are used in a table to indicate p values and thus the significance of the results of statistical hypothesis testing. To report the results of significance testing, it is best to provide the exact probabilities to two or three decimal places (e.g., p = .023). When p values are less than .001, it is acceptable to write the value as “<.001.” Do not use any p value smaller than .001.

Formatting of Notes: Begin each kind of note on a new line below the table body. A general note appears first. A specific note begins on a new line under a general note; subsequent specific notes begin on the same line. A probability note begins on a new line under any general or specific notes; subsequent probability notes begin on the same line. Multiple specific or probability notes are separated from each other by a period and a space. Lengthy specific notes may be presented on separate lines if this improves readability. Double-space all table notes, and align all notes flush left (i.e., with no paragraph indentation).

Note. The responses were gathered in the laboratory.

a n = 25. b n = 42.

*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

Adapted from American Psychological Association publication manual (7th ed.).

Table Borders & Shading

Limit the use of borders or lines in a table to those needed for clarity. In general, use a border at the top and bottom of the table, beneath column headings (including decked heads), and above column spanners. You may also use a border to separate a row containing totals or other summary information from other rows in the table. Do not use vertical borders to separate data, and do not use borders around every cell in a table. Use spacing between columns and rows and strict alignment to clarify relations among the elements in a table.

Avoid the use of shading in tables. Do not use shading for mere decoration. To emphasize the content of a particular cell or cells, use a specific or probability note; italics or bold may also be used with explanation in the table’s general note. Instead of using shading, add white space or borders between rows and columns to help readers distinguish them. If shading is necessary, explain its purpose in the table’s general note.

Adapted from American Psychological Association publication manual (7th ed.).