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5 Things To Know About The Format Of The Research Paper Table Of Contents


Formatting papers can be a huge headache: usually students leave it to the last minute, after they’ve finished writing the paper, so it is little more than an after thought. But by thinking about formatting before you start writing and while you write you can save yourself a lot of time at the end, having to go back and redo parts of your paper.

Use these 5 things you should know to correctly and easily format your research paper table of contents:

  1. Stick with one style
  2. There are several different commonly used formats for research papers such as APA, MLA, and Chicago. The first think you’ll need to figure out when it comes to formatting a table of contents is which standard formatting you’ll be using. Your teacher may or may not tell you which one to use. If they don’t, a general rule of thumb is to use APA for the sciences and social sciences, and to use MLA for English and literature. Generally it doesn’t make a lot of difference which format you use, as long as you stick with one throughout the paper. This means that whichever formatting style you use to cite your sources is the same one that you should use to format your table of contents.

  3. Wait to add the page numbers till the end
  4. One common mistake that students make when it comes to table of contents is spending too much time at the beginning trying to format it all, without knowing what the section headings and the page numbers are. This translates to wasted time. Instead, format the basic table contents and add the section headings in as you go. Then, at the end, once your paper is finished, add in the page numbers.

  5. Include several levels of section headings
  6. If you’ve used more than one level of section headings in your paper, make sure that they are all included in the table of contents.

  7. Use an easy to read style
  8. There are different ways to connect the headings with the page numbers such as periods or lines that make the table of contents easier to read. Consider this when you are creating your table. Also, think about continuity with your paper—if you’ve used certain format such as bold and italics for your section headings throughout your paper, carry them over into your table of contents too.

  9. Consider using a preformatted template
  10. There are widely available and can save you lots of time.