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How to Write APA Style Table of Contents

Published by at February 6th, 2022 , Revised On February 5, 2024

In an APA Style paper, a table of contents is not essential, but if you do include one, follow these guidelines:

All level 1 and level 2 headers should be included (other levels are optional).

Indent the different levels of headings. Follow the basic APA format in terms of typeface, space, and other elements.

Using APA heading styles in Word, you may generate the table of contents automatically.


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APA Formatting Guidelines for the Table of the Content

The table of contents appears between the abstract and the introduction in a thesis or dissertation. It should use the same font and size as the rest of your document (usually 12 pt. Times New Roman). Contents should be centred and bold at the top of the page.

You can utilise up to five levels of headings in APA Style, each with its unique formatting style. All level 1 and 2 headers should be left-aligned and displayed as plain text in the table of contents. It is optional to include lower-level headers in the table of contents. For each level, add an extra indent.  If you have a lot of headings in your text, you may not be able to include them all—your table of contents should not be more than two pages long in total.

Also read: APA 7th edition: the most significant changesHeading and sub-heading with examples

Creating a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

First, read over your content and make sure that each level of heading follows the APA Style guidelines. Then, on the Home tab at the top, alter the heading styles:

  1. A level 1 heading should be highlighted.
  2. Right-click the Heading 1 style and choose Update Heading 1 to Match Selection from the drop-down menu.

Carry out the same procedure for each level of heading. After that you can use the heading styles to change more headings easily. Before you continue, check that all headings have the correct style.

You may now create a table of contents. Write the title “Contents” first (in the style of a level 1 heading). Then go to the References tab by moving your cursor two lines below this.

Select Custom Table of Contents from the Table of Contents menu… Select how many levels of heading you want to include (at least two) under Show levels in the popup window, then click OK:

Based on your existing headers and page numbers, you now have a table of contents. If you continue to work on your text after this, make sure to update your table of contents at the end, as headers and page numbers may have changed.

By right-clicking on the table of contents and selecting Update Field, you may update it. Then you can decide whether you want to update all of the data or simply the page numbers. To be safe, it’s wise to update everything.

Frequently Asked Questions

To write an APA style table of contents, include all major sections and subsections with their respective page numbers. Use proper formatting, such as centering “Table of Contents” at the top, and aligning the entries using dotted leader lines. Follow APA guidelines for font, spacing, and indentation.

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