Even smallest details matter when completing a graduation work, so it’s time to take a closer look at dissertation contents page. When writing your dissertation, you’ll want to make a good start. This is why this page is no less important than other ones. It isn’t only because you reference all sections of your paper in it. This part also indicates how well your paper is formatted. It provides a brief overview of its structure for your readers.

Making a good impression at the start may contribute significantly to the overall success. So let’s dive into it and learn together with thesis writers at StudyCrumb.

Table of Contents for Dissertation: Definition

In a standard university dissertation, table of contents is a special page in the beginning of this document. It must contain the full list of your paper's chapters. In case there are major sections which contain several chapters each, they should also be present in this table. A page number must be provided for each item. That will help a reader easily locate this part.

It is quite important to compose a well-structured and detailed contents table. After all, it would give readers the first glimpse within your paper’s level. Is it informative and properly formatted? Then it would indicate your entire work's high quality.

Dissertation Contents Page: The Main Features

There are certain rules of composing a table of contents (dissertation level):

  1. Index should be placed between the dissertation abstract and the introduction.
  2. Its maximum length is two pages.
  3. It should contain a reference to the paper’s title page.
  4. Each heading and subheading should be reflected here properly. They must be formatted the same way as in the rest of the paper.
  5. Numbers must be provided for pages where chapters and sections start.

In addition to these general rules your own university may require some additional ones to follow. So make sure to check the respective guidelines when formatting your paper.

What to Include in The Table of Contents for Dissertation

Dissertation table of contents should fulfill its main purpose. This is giving your reader a glimpse of all important elements of your paper’s structure. Therefore it should present all sections and subsections of your paper correctly.

We’ve already learned what main elements should be put into this table. But here are another two important items to consider:

  • Second level of headings, in case they are used in your paper.
  • Tables, charts, figures and other kinds of appendices which occupy separate pages.

Let’s take a closer look at them below.

Two Levels of Headings

When completing table of contents in a scholarly paper, it is strongly recommended to follow the same heading/subheading system as in the rest of your paper. You should include at least two heading levels in the table. Try starting with an introduction and ending with a conclusion.

Level three headings are also nice to have but not mandatory. Index section shouldn’t exceed two pages’ limit. You should better omit them if you are reaching two pages.

Here’s an example of recommended structure:

Level one:Chapter 1. Introduction into Problem X
Level two:1.1 Problem X’s origins
Level three (optional): 1.1.1 Discovery of X

Appendices and Tables

Another important component to be included in the contents page is additional content that illustrates your research activities and results. This may include:

  • Figures, charts or images that occupy separate pages. They should be referred to as separate entities.
  • Important tables. Especially those which occupy more than one page and are situated at the end of paper.

You need to list such items in the end of your contents table, each one together with its page number provided. Note that you don't always need to include small graphs or tables as separate entities in case they are placed in-text and don’t take much space.

What Not to Include in The Table of Contents for Dissertation

Here is what you shouldn’t include into your dissertation contents section:

  1. Acknowledgements section
  2. Abstract
  3. Table of contents itself.

Both #1 and #2 are situated before your contents section. This is why it doesn’t make sense to inform readers about these pages: they have already seen them. Keep in mind that the main idea of the contents part is helping others locate various parts of your work. So adding unnecessary information into it might cause confusion or inconvenience for readers.

Dissertation Contents Page Example

In case you need some illustration for all this information provided above, here’s an example of dissertation contents page. We’ve got it prepared for your convenience so feel free to use it for your inspiration. 

If more examples are needed, you can select another option: check out our content writing services and see what’s available there. We’ve got plenty of various content writing services and many more helpful samples can be obtained that way.

Scroll down to access this example. And stay tuned!

Microsoft Word Tutorial: How to Set Out a Contents Page for a Dissertation

How does one create a dissertation table of contents in Word? Obviously, Microsoft Office environment is overwhelmingly popular nowadays. Most probably our readers will be using it for completing their scholarly papers anyway. So let’s learn some good tips and techniques that can help you compose a contents section in MS Word.

Here’s a list of main steps:

  1. Create the page. Just put your cursor in the appropriate place and use the Table of Contents feature from the main panel or from Insert menu section.
  2. Make proper formatting, including headings.
  3. Make it update automatically.

Steps 2 and 3 will be described in detail below. Let’s go!

How to Make a Contents Page in Word: Applying Heading Styles

When working in MS Word, table of contents must contain proper headings types. We’ve already discussed the importance of formatting and applying all necessary heading levels. So how does one do it in MS Word?

  1. Select one of your first level headings and highlight it using mouse.
  2. In the menu panel, find the Heading 1 element in the Styles subsection. Select the option ‘Update Heading 1 to match selection’.
  3. Do the same for level two and level three headings in the text. Update the Heading 2 and Heading 3 styles respectively.
  4. Make sure you’ve applied appropriate styles to respective elements in your index. Refresh the table once again so that all latest changes would be applied.

How to Update a Contents Page for Dissertation Automatically?

Now you’ve learned how to create a contents page in Word. Let’s discuss one more detail: how to update it.

It is highly recommended to use the automatic refresh feature! It can capture even some minor edits you’ve made throughout your text. Trying to replicate all those small changes in your custom contents’ table manually isn’t really practical. Thankfully, Word has a special feature for that.

Follow this clear scenario to apply automatic updates to this table:

  1. Make sure you’ve made all necessary changes in the text.
  2. Right click on the table body.
  3. Select the Update option. If necessary, you can update page numbers only.

Creating Dissertation Table of Contents: Key Takeaways

In this article we’ve reviewed the dissertation content page concept as well as its main features. Tips and how-to suggestions have been provided for our readers who would need to compose such a section.

These are main things which we’ve learned today:

  • Contents’ section should essentially reflect your dissertation’s structure.
  • Author must insert proper headings/subheadings of different levels.
  • Remember to include necessary elements (such as appendices) and exclude what’s not needed.
  • MS Word has some helpful tools for creating and updating contents.
  • An illustrative example if available for our readers. More examples can be obtained if necessary.

Your Checklist for Dissertation Table of Contents

And here’s an extract which could be helpful for memorizing all major things about table of contents page dissertation:

  • Ensure it repeats your entire dissertation’s structure.
  • Exclude sections which come before the table (e.g., Abstract).
  • Provide references to all appendices, including figures, charts and tables.
  • First and second level headings are present.
  • Page numbers are correct.
  • 2 pages limit is not exceeded.
  • Check that the contents table has been refreshed each time you make any changes in the text.

Dissertation Contents Page: Bottom Line

Today we’ve learned together about dissertation contents page: its concept, length, main features and references to include. Our article has provided readers with how-to tips for creating proper contents tables as well as with some helpful examples to check out.

Still have questions or doubts about dissertations?

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Article posted on:Aug 1, 2022
Article updated on:Aug 1, 2022


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