If you begin your dissertation with an introduction, it will be like throwing your readers into a war with no clue who the opponent is or who they are fighting. This is when the table of contents comes into play.

It is a well-organized list of your document’s chapters, sections, and figures, properly identified by page number. A good table of contents page should be accurate, simple to read, and well-formatted.

The table of contents is where you list the chapters and key sections of your dissertation, as well as the page numbers for each. A clean contents page is important since it shows that a high-quality paper is on its way.

The table of contents comes after the abstract and before the introduction. The maximum number of pages should be two.

What should the table of contents be placed?

The table of contents should be placed after the acknowledgments section and before the chapters.

How should a table of contents be written?

In chronological sequence, you begin by writing the title or chapter names of your research paper. Then you create the subheadings or subtitles. The page numbers for the appropriate headings and subheadings are then written.

Check with your university or other educational institution to determine if there are any formatting guidelines you must follow.

Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, and Bibliography are examples of level one headers. Subsections of each of these are level two headings, and further subsections are level three headings.

What is included in the page?

The title of the paper appears at the top of a table of contents, followed by the chapter names and subtitles in chronological order. The page number of the corresponding headings is at the end of each line.

Appendices and Tables

All appendices should be included in your table of contents. The number of tables and figures in your dissertation will determine whether or not you include them.

If you have more than three figures and tables, consider placing them on a different page. Otherwise, you may include them all in the table of contents.

What is the importance of this?

A table of contents is extremely important for two reasons.

  • First, it allows the reader to quickly locate the information of specific subjects that are organised as chapters or subtitles.
  • Second, it assists the writer in organising their work and thoughts so that significant portions of an academic project are not overlooked.

Tips to Write a Table of Contents:

  1. After you have finished your thesis, you should work on the table of contents. However, it is a good idea to create a mock table of contents early in the writing process, which helps you to develop a basic framework and plan out how you will do your research.
  2. A sloppy or confusing table of contents may even lower your score because the dissertation is difficult to understand.
  1. The structure of your table of contents will be determined by your academic field and the length of your thesis. Regardless of the discipline, you must develop an organised list of all chapters in their order of appearance, with chapter subheadings properly labelled.
  1. Subheadings should not be listed for one chapter and then forgotten for the next. They are not always needed, but they may be quite useful when dealing with a complex subject.
  1. The titles of chapters and subheadings must correspond to the titles of the relevant pages. For example, if your first chapter is titled “Chapter 1: An Introduction,” it must appear on both the table of contents and the first chapter page.

Where should a table of contents page be created?

You may create a manually generated table of contents page in Microsoft Word, but the automatic function will make your life much simpler.

What to not include?

The acknowledgements, abstract, or table of contents are not included on the contents page. Although the first two are situated before the table of contents, the reader has already viewed these pages by the time they arrive at this section.

In order for Microsoft Word to automatically include a table of contents, you must use heading styles throughout the text.

Once you’ve done that, proceed as follows:

  1. On your contents page, include a title. Make sure you use the standard structure for your citation style or the instructions provided by your university/department.
  2. Place your cursor where you want your table of contents to appear.
  3. Locate the Table of Contents group in the references part of the ribbon.
  4. Select Custom Table of Contents by clicking the arrow next to the Table of Contents icon. You can choose which levels of headers to include in the table of contents and make manual modifications to each level by clicking the Modify button.
  5. When you are ready to input the table of contents, click OK, and it will be generated automatically.

How to set headings?

To set heading styles, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the sort of formatting you want for each heading level. For example, if all level one headings should be Times New Roman, 12 pt, and bold, apply this style to the first level one heading.
  1. Find the Styles option on the home tab to make this formatting automatic for all level one headers.
  1. Highlight the level one heading and then right-click the Heading 1 style.
  1. To match the selection, choose Update Heading 1.

Highlight the headings in question and click the styles you want to use to apply formatting to each heading throughout the rest of the text.

The table of contents is automatically updated

We recommend that students update their table of contents as one of the final tasks before submitting or printing their dissertation, as text might change throughout the final revision process and page numbers must be precise.

This change may be done automatically in Word. Simply right-click the table of contents and pick Update Field from the menu that appears. You can choose to change simply the page numbers or all of the information in the table.

Thanks and Regards,

Isabell S.

The TrueEditors Team

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