What Is an Appendix in a Paper?

An appendix compiles extra information related to the content of a paper. The appendix does not contain the main thesis or major points of a paper; rather, it presents resources for the reader for further reading or further elaborates on related but nonessential topics. Scholarly papers sometimes contain appendices, as they present thorough analyses of subjects and are sometimes published in academic journals.


Appendices follow either Roman numeral or letter formatting. Writers label the first appendix I, the second II and so on, or Appendix A and Appendix B. Subtopics in appendix sections also take Roman numerals. Therefore, the first subsection of an appendix would look like "I.I." Sometimes writers number charts "Table 1" and pictures "Figure 1." Different citation styles (MLA, APA or Chicago style) have their own formatting requirements for appendices in scholarly papers.


Appendices are optional. Writers who wish to elaborate on a point only tangentially related to their subject without weighing down the body of the paper might find including appendices helpful. These kinds of appendices prevent digressions in the middle of a paper that distract or even confuse a reader. Science or mathematics papers might include charts and graphs in appendices. Pictorial representations are also suitable for appendices in feasibility reports.


Outside of numbering, writers can organize the information in an appendix as they wish. Of course, coherent and unified paragraphs make the information presented easier to read, but appendices don't require an overall thesis. Writers can use subsections to organize their ideas as well. An appendix that defines specialized terms can simply take a list format.


Writers might be tempted to use appendices as a place to "dump" all of their research and notes, but this method does not help the overall quality of the paper itself. Writers should discard any information in an appendix that diverges too much from the subject of the paper itself. Writers should properly cite all research in an appendix just as they do the rest of the paper.

About the Author

Nadine Smith has been writing since 2010. She teaches college writing and ESL courses and has several years experience tutoring all ages in English, ESL and literature. Nadine holds a Master of Arts in English language and literature from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she led seminars as a teaching assistant.

Photo Credits
  • Images