Best Practices for a Data Analysis Chapter as per APA Formatting

So, you have done your research and performed analysis on your data to verify it for reliability. You might have used tools like SPSS, STATA, ANOVA, SAS, etc. But, are all your efforts thrown out the window if not presented correctly? Yes, it’s all about presenting your data and formatting it in an approved manner to spotlight the ideas being presented. The outcome of the statistical tests performed in data analysis is organized and presented in tables and figures. APA formatting is used for the proper construction of tables and figures (graphs, pictures, charts, drawings and maps) of data analysis chapter. It consists of rules of style that are used to enhance this presentation so that other researchers can find it easy to understand your research ideas. The goal of this article is to point out the problems encountered and their respective solutions to perform appropriate APA formatting for your data analysis chapter. Here’s how you can construct tables and figures of data analysis chapter as per APA formatting.

The format of all the tables and figures in a data analysis chapter should be the same with same name and scale. They should appear before the appendices. One table should fit on one page and if not, then try to reduce or increase its data or line spacing. You can use landscape orientation if the table is too long. Set uniform margins of at least 1 in. (2.54 cm) on the top, bottom, left, and right of every page.

The following descriptive table is an example of an APA formatted table describing all the major parts.


Table number: This part of the table lies at the left most corner above the title in non-italic form. It should be numbered using Arabic numerals in a sequential manner. For example Table 1, Table 2, etc.

Title: It should be very precise describing the contents of the table in an italic form. For journal publication, double-spacing is required else single spaced can be applied.

Headings: They should be kept brief while explaining the organization of the table. All the columns must have a heading. The first heading of the first column is referred to as stub head. Abbreviations can be used for better presentation.

Table Body: It consists of the actual content of the table. The unit of measurement and number of decimal places should never be changed throughout the table. They should be consistent.

Table Notes: Notes are placed at the bottom of the table. They are meant to elaborate the contents of the table, or to eliminate any redundancy of data, or to indicate statistical significance. They are of three types, general, specific, probability. They should be listed with general notes first, then specific notes, and concluded with probability notes, without indentation. They may be single-spaced for better presentation. Explain all uses of dashes and parentheses. Abbreviations for technical terms, group names, and those of a similar nature must be explained in a note to the table.

Note: The vertical lines are generally not used whereas horizontal lines are used under the table title, headings and after body.

Step by step example to format a SPSS output table:

An SPSS output is generated while performing statistical tests during the data analysis of your research. Following is a step by step guide on how to format a SPSS output according to APA format in MS Word 2013.


The above SPSS output table is converted into an APA formatted table through following steps:
1. Inserting Table in MS Word 2013
• Type the table number and table title in the document before inserting the table
• Click on Insert and make a 6X7 table

2. Adding the horizontal lines
• According to APA format, only horizontal lines are required
• At Home go to the Paragraph section, click on Border and enable View Gridlines


• Right click on the table and select Borders and Shadings



• Select Custom in the Setting section and on the Preview section, select the upper and lower buttons to insert upper and lower horizontal lines of the table.
Apply to Table
• Click Ok
• Select the first row of your table and right click to go to Borders and Shading tab
• Select Custom and lower button on the preview section
Apply to cell
• Click Ok


3. Correcting the line spacing
• Select the table and click on paragraph dialog box button
• In the Indents and Spacing section, set Line spacing to Single
• Set Before and After Spacing to 6pt


• Enter the contents of the table
This is how your table will look like:


4. Adjusting the column widths
The headings in the APA table should be center aligned, the stub headings should be left aligned while the cell content should be decimal aligned and in center under the headings.
• Select the first row of your table and enable Center alignment from the toolbar


Also, there should be no wrapped text in the APA formatted table. In the above example, “Statistical Tests” is in wrapped form. To unwrap text, increase the column width.
• Right click on the first column and select Table Properties


• Go to the Column section and tick the checkbox beside Preferred width
• Set it on 2”
• Click Ok
• For aligning the cells of the table, select them and click the paragraph dialog box button.


• Select Tabs button
• Click Clear all and set Alignment to Decimal
• Enter the Tab stop position 0.2”


This is how your table will look like:

• Now disable the View gridlines by selecting the Border button of the Paragraph section
• With the table number and title, this is how the APA formatted table should look like:


Formatting of Figures

Figures are the graphical presentation of data. They can be graphs, charts, photographs, maps or diagrams. Generally, the construction of tables and figures requires same concepts of implementation. Figures are the best visual presentation for information that is hard to interpret through text. Following are some guidelines to follow while formatting any type of figure:

1. Figures are numbered using Arabic numerals in a sequential manner. Each table and figure should be numbered separately. For example, Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1, etc.
2. The figure caption should be very precise with proper explanation of the figure content.
3. The figure number should be italicized, but not the figure caption.
4. The figure caption text should be in sentence case with the first letter capitalized.


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