How to Write a Table of Contents in APA Format

The American Psychological Association, or the APA, developed writing style guidelines to help set a precedent for submissions within the field. This style guide has been adopted by other fields, such as anthropology and sociology. It is used as a guide for formatting everything from college essays to trade publications. If you are writing a book or any multi-sectioned piece of work that requires a table of contents, you will need to be sure your submission follows APA style guidelines.

Step 1

Set your document to have one inch margins on all sides of your document. This is standard for all APA documents. Your documents should also feature a 10 to 12 point size font in a legible style such as Arial or Times.

Step 2

Center the title of your table of contents at the top of your document. The title can be as simple as “Table of Contents,” or you can include the title of the piece of work. This title should be the same formatting as your main document and your reference page.

Step 3

Create a table in your desired word processing program. You will need your table to have two columns and as many rows as you have sections. There is no need to feature visible lines that divide your table; rather just use the preset formatting as a guide for keeping your table of contents consistent and clear.

Step 4

Title your column on the left as “Chapter,” “Section,” “Unit” or any other respective designation.

Step 5

Place the section name in the left column, followed by a dotted line leading to the right margin of this column. List each section of your piece in the order in which they appear in your text. This should be a list of the various paragraphs, sections or chapters in the piece.

Step 6

Include any necessary subheadings within the first column. Indent this information one tab space (1/4 inch). For example:

Chapter One The Mind’s Eye

Step 7

Title your second column as “Page Number.” In the rows within this column, detail the page number in which this information can be found. This information must also be given for indexes, editor’s notes, glossaries or any other information contained within the text.