For my thesis I'm using the MasterDoctoralThesis template and need to alter the headlines to conform to the APA6 regulations.


I found this excellent TeX.SE solution for it, but since I'm not using one of the KOMA-Script document classes, the proposed commands RedeclareSectionCommand and sectioncatchphraseformat return Undefined control sequence.

Is there a way to enable these commands in my document class, or is there another way to create these exact headline formats? So far I have only found people working directly with KOMA-Script classes or the apa6 class.

(Because of the use of a specific template and the "What to include to make X work" nature of my issue, I'm not sure what I should include in a MWE. I'm leaving it out until something is specifically requested)

  • Welcome to TeX.se. Is there a reason you're using the class you're using? Why not use the KOMA class solution and adapt the other parts to your thesis requirements. This would probably be easier. I agree that using the apa6 class for a thesis is probably not a viable idea.
    – Alan Munn
    Sep 4, 2020 at 21:40
  • @AlanMunn Thank you! Honestly, probably because I had not thought of that alternative. I wrote several projects using the MDT template and enjoyed the available settings and design immensely. But you're right, after everything I had to change, the original design is almost gone entirely, so I might as well have used a different document class altogether. Also, in the meantime I built a flexible solution using the titlesec package, how should I go about noting that here?
    – bhnn
    Sep 4, 2020 at 22:01
  • 1
    If you've done a solution using titlesec + the MDT template, then post an answer here showing what you've done. Self answers are perfectly welcome.
    – Alan Munn
    Sep 4, 2020 at 22:05

2 Answers 2


The APA style covers perhaps a hundred details, not just the titles. To comply with all APA6 regulations, it is best to stick with the apa6 class.

The apa6 class works as advertised and loads all necessary additional packages. See this simple example.



    Normal Text
    \section{Level 1}
    \subsection{Level 2}
    \subsubsection{Level 3}
    \paragraph{Level 4}

    \subparagraph{Level 5}  

enter image description here

If you want to use a thesis template, you can try Oveveleaf APA6 style manuscript


Note that the latest version of the APA dictatorship is APA7, with many changes. Can you see the differences? (Put apa7 instead of apa6 en the former code)

enter image description here

So another option would be


Many times, the editorial office of an organization or magazine becomes very picky. Best check with them before issuing your manuscript.

Also, make sure that the template you want to use meets the requirements of the university or department. Many have their own templates. See examples and guidelines in


and most useful (APA 6) from Purdue


permanent URL bit.ly/puthesis

From the same source

There is no combination of options that will automatically give proper headings, tables, and figures according to Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth edition, fifth printing, January 2011. (Informally this is known as the APA format—I call it APA6.) APA6 specifications are geared toward short papers and journal articles. It does not specify the format for the table of contents, list of tables, list of figures, etc. It does not specify the numbering that should be used for chapters, sections, subsections, subsubsections, equations, etc

... The Thesis/Dissertation Office recommends using puthesis.

To test, download the puthesis software and template files, put everything in the same directory, and compile thesis.tex

  • The APA requirements are insane if you're submitting to an APA journal, but most requests for APA format will likely not require that level of detail. This is especially true for bibliography styling (where APA format usually means some form of author/year citations but not exactly APA) and similarly for a thesis. As your last quote suggests, the apa6 class isn't really an ideal solution for a thesis.
    – Alan Munn
    Sep 4, 2020 at 21:42
  • It's also not the case that "most universities/departments" have their own templates. In European universities, there are virtually no requirements and people can format a thesis as they see fit. In the US the requirements are varied and usually also insane, but most universities don't supply templates. If one exists, it may be of varying quality.
    – Alan Munn
    Sep 4, 2020 at 21:45
  • @AlanMunn The research degree for which the thesis will be submitted aims to train people to work within the limitations of the APA. For the bachelor thesis it was much more lax, but right now I have to follow format style guidelines (at least for text, figures and tables) to the letter, personal reluctance notwithstanding... And you're right, there is no university template available for us.
    – bhnn
    Sep 4, 2020 at 21:54
  • Overleaf offers hundreds of thesis templates from universities around the world. Although I don't know if they are certified by the organizations. Sep 4, 2020 at 22:00
  • 2
    @bhnn I'm not suggesting you reject the APA style, I'm suggesting you use the KOMA script adaptation of it for your thesis rather than adapting a random thesis class on Overleaf. KOMA is a class designed to make major formatting decisions relatively simple, and so it is a good starting point for creating a thesis document.
    – Alan Munn
    Sep 4, 2020 at 22:03

I've come up with a solution to produce the correct formats using the titlesec package. The spacing was confirmed to fit the results of the apa6 class. Unfortunately, I could not make it automatically adjust to the document's fontsize, so if anyone wants to use this for less 12pt it will need to be readjusted.

% in the preamble



% after document start

Documentation on how titleformat, titlespacing and its arguments work can be found in this manual (p. 3-5).

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