How To Compose A Table Of Contents For An APA Research Paper

Actually, the APA Publication Manual doesn’t mention anything about a set format for a table of contents. The way you want to set up your table of contents (if you’re going to set one up at all) is going to vary depending on the preferences of your instructor.

If your instructor requires one in your research paper, he or she should have told you what format he/she wants it in. If your instructor didn’t say anything about this, it’s probably safe to assume that you can compose your table of contents however you like. However, it should be in a legible font, such as Times New Roman (just like the rest of your paper).

Google Docs

(Note: Your table will not include page numbers.) Click the mouse where you want it to be (probably at the beginning of the paper), and click “Insert” and select “Table of Contents” from the bottom of the drop-down menu. A box with the instructions “Add Headings (Format > Paragraph styles) and they will appear in your table of contents,” written in it should pop up in your document.

Follow the instructions in the box. When you add a heading in your paper, use Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3. (To do this, find the box in the format bar that says “Normal text” with a little arrow pointing down. Click on it, and change the checked option from Normal text to whatever heading you want to use.) Headings written in Heading 1 will appear in blue in the box, once you click the refresh button. Sub-headings, written in Heading 2, will appear with an indent. If you want to add anything, you can also type inside the box.


If you’re using Word, write your paper first, typing the headings in Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3. When you finish, click the mouse where you want the Table of Contents to be, and click “Insert,” point to “Reference,” and select “Index and Tables.” A window will pop up with “Index and Tables” written at the top; click the tab that says “Table of Contents.” Adjust all the settings in the window to they way you like them, and then click OK. All of your headings, along with the page numbers on which they appear, will be listed where you clicked your mouse before clicking “Insert.”

To change the font of the headings, highlight your heading first and set it as Heading 1, 2, or 3. Then you can change the font and font size to whatever you want.

As you can see, if you follow the instructions above for composing your table of contents for an APA research paper, it should be a snap!


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