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APA Table of Contents Writing Guide (+ example)

Today we are going to learn how to make a proper APA table of contents. However, let’s start with some backstory to understand the formatting standards according to the latest issue of the APA manual.

The 2019 version of manual, APA 7th edition, features no specific requirement for table of contents format. Actually, it is not an obligatory element of the APA-style paper. The writer has the right to either include or ignore it at his own discretion. Still, it is indisputable that such structural elements may increase readability and navigation greatly.

Even though it is not officially required by the APA guide, you may be asked by the instructor to include one. That’s why we kindly offer you to follow our easy formatting guide.

Table of Contents APA: Basics

In the present APA table of contents guide, we will show the most convenient and recommendable format for an APA paper. The first thing that you need to remember — it can not exceed two pages in size. So if the table is a must according to the instructor, you may have to exclude some section headings to fit in. It is good to optimize your paper with subheadings, but don’t get obsessed with it.

Here are some of the major formatting rules according to APA Style:

  • Include at least 2 levels of headings — level 1 and level 2
  • Use up to 5 levels of headings if it fits the structure
  • Apply indents to highlight different levels of headings
  • Locate it right after the abstract, before the intro part
  • Use a 12 pt Times New Roman font
  • Keep the headings in the table left-aligned
  • Capitalize all the headlines
  • Make sure that margins from all sides are 1 inch long

In all other regards, your formatting sticks to the plain text format. Don’t include any unnecessary formatting or highlighting. And don't be afraid to ask your instructor about it if you have any doubts or questions.

APA Table of Contents Example

Nevertheless, there is nothing more representative than a proper APA table of contents sample. Pay attention to the length of indents for different heading levels. Check out our sample right below.

APA Table of Contents Example

Note, there is no fixed standard for the length of indents that you make to highlight every level of headlines. Make sure that your headlines look readable and easy to distinguish.

How to Make APA Table of Contents in Word

Microsoft Word is the most likely software for formatting APA style tables of content. That’s why right now, we will learn how to generate automated ones. It is a very simple operation, and you only have to remember easy 3 steps:

  1. Format the headings first
  2. Apply an APA style format
  3. Keep your table updated

And now, look closer at each individual step, so it will be much easier to remember. So, let’s go!

Format Your Headings

Before starting working with headings, make sure that all of them are in line with the general formatting style. Normally, the table of contents is generated after the text is finished and proofread. So don’t be in a hurry, even though the contents are located in the very beginning of the text.

Formatting headings is easy — just highlight the heading first. Then, find a top panel featuring heading styles and make a right click on the one you want to choose. After it, select Please update Heading X to match selection. Do it with every heading that you have. Assign each one with Heading 1 — Heading 5 roles.

Create Table of Contents in APA Formats

One more step and our APA paper with table of contents is as good as ready. From the very beginning, type the page name, keep it centered and aligned to the top. Remember about 1-inch long indents. Make the heading bold to increase readability and navigation.

Then choose the “Table of Contents” option from the “References” menu that is located on the top panel. In the new window, choose the number of heading levels that will be displayed. As you remember, you need at least 2 and not more than 5 levels of headings.

Keep Table of Contents Consistent

From this point, all the highlighted headings will be automatically synchronized with your table of contents. In case if you make changes to the actual heading, you may also change it in your list in one click. Just make a right click on it and choose the “Update Field” option. In Microsoft Word, you can choose to update either one element or all elements at a time. We recommend updating all the elements to keep your paper consistent and good-looking.

We hope our blog explained all those formatting tricks in a most understandable way. Check out other articles if you have any other questions about academic writing. Or you can always ask our professional essay writers for some help with your work!

Whether it is an APA-style paper or an opinion essay, be sure it will be delivered timely and composed with skill and diligence. Check out the writing service and give yourself a little break from writing! Contact us when you are ready. Good luck with your writing!
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Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a size limit for a table of contents in APA style?

Yes, your table of contents should not be bigger than two pages long. If it is larger, consider deleting it entirely or some of the headlines to fit in.

Where in the text is the table of contents located in APA style paper?

The table of contents is located after the Acknowledgment but before the Introduction paragraph.

How many heading levels is it required to have in a table of contents?

You need to include at least 2 levels and not more than 5 levels of headings. Just analyze the text and come up with the right format for your paper.

Emma Flores knows all about formatting standards. She shares with StudyCrumb readers tips on creating academic papers that will meet high-quality standards.

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