How to Write a Research Essay in AAA


American Anthropological Association style shares some similarities to the Chicago Manual of Style, but is a distinct format with unique rules. For undergraduate students majoring in anthropology, learning AAA research paper format is essential and requires some work because it is less familiar than MLA and APA.

AAA Research Paper Sections

  • Since anthropology papers are usually case studies, every AAA paper must have a cover page, an abstract, a background section, a methods page, a results section, a discussion and a conclusion. The cover page follows Chicago Manual guidelines. The title must be capitalized, centered and written about 2.5 inches from the top of the page. Your name, class name and date must be centered on three separate lines about 2.5 inches from the bottom of the page. Page numbers start on the second page and are on the top right corner of the page. The abstract is always between 150 and 250 words in length. The lengths of the other sections depend on the specific guidelines outlined by your professor.

AAA Prefers In-Text Citations

  • The major difference between AAA style and the Chicago Manual is the use of in-text citations. The Chicago Manual prefers footnotes, while AAA prefers in-text citations. AAA in-text citations are similar to those found in APA format; the only difference is that you must place a colon after the year. An example of an AAA citation for page 27 for a work written by a Mr. James looks like this: (James 1993:27). Only use footnotes if three or more sources say the same thing. The footnote is written at the bottom of the page using the same in-text citation style.

How to Use Tables and Appendices

  • Tables, graphs and appendices must always be mentioned in your paper at some point in the running text before they are displayed; otherwise, the material is not properly linked. Tables and graphs should not take up more than one-half of a page unless they are especially large, and should never exceed the width of the text on the page. All tables containing information from other sources must include references back to those sources. Tables are placed within the body of the paper unless your professor requires them to be placed after the bibliography page. Appendices are always placed at the end of the paper, after the bibliography page and any tables or graphs.

How to Format a Bibliography Page

  • Usually the word "bibliography" is used to head an AAA reference page. AAA bibliography entries are significantly different from MLA, APA or Chicago formats. The authors' names are the only information written on the first line of an AAA bibliography entry. Indent the second line approximately two spaces, and if necessary, indent the third line another two spaces. The date is the first piece of information written on the second line, followed by the name of the book, journal article or work. If the work comes from a journal, the name of the journal comes after the article title, and is followed by a period, and then the volume number, issue number in parentheses, a colon and the pages cited. If the work is a book, the second line includes the date, name of the book, publication city, publisher and pages cited.


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