August 05, 2014 By Ugochi Juliet

Once you decide to write a book, a novel or any type of essay, you might be met with the popular writer’s block. One of the ways of eliminating the writer’s block is to create a table of contents for the essay. This is because the table of contents will now give you guidelines to write your essay.
Do you know that an essential part of your essay writing is the table of contents? Sure because it the part that shows the reader the organisation and division of the information in your report. So do you know how to write it? Did you answer no? Ok don’t worry. This article will teach you how to write a table of contents.
You can use a table of contents for your academic works like a project, thesis, seminar, and also for non-academic works like novels, ebooks, and others. We are going to discuss how to create a table of contents for both types of writing work here.

What is a table of Contents?
First off, you need to know what a table of contents is.  A table of content (usually known as the TOC) is a linear part listing the tidbits of the document you wish to write about. The depth and the detail of your TOC will depend on the length of the document. That means that if you are writing a big document of say 120 pages, the table of contents will be much but if you are writing a smaller document of say 20-30 pages, it will have less table of contents. A table of contents is organized based on where the parts of the documents will appear. Most times documents that are fewer than 9 pages do not require a table of contents, unless of course your teacher requires one.
A TOC is important because it presents the topics of the essay or project work in a linear orderly form in which the reader of your book will encounter them. It is a useful summary of what comes after what topic in your essay, as some readers will use it to get an overview of what your essay is all about. Therefore it is essential that you have a TOC as it will help your reader easily find what they are looking for in the book. It is usually accompanied with the page numbers but the page numbers are added at the end when you have completed the essay.

Guidelines  to Create a Table of Contents
As I said earlier one of the best ways of eliminating writer’s block is by having a table of contents before you start. The headings and sub-headings in your TOC will be determined by factors such as the content of the report, the type of problem being addressed, the purpose of the report and the audience. This is the guideline I usually use to set down my table of contents for my ebooks and other essays.  I just start listing the topics I want to treat in that essay and numbering 1,2,3. After that, I start writing based on those topics and after, I will edit the TOC. For example, say you want to write about cats as a domestic. Your table of table of contents might look like this:

    1. Introduction
    2. Carnivorous animals
    • 2.1 Cats as an example of carnivores
    • 2.2 Other examples of carnivore

Etc, etc. I just wrote the above now off the top of my head. You can do it, just list out the topics you will like to cover in the essay and start writing.

Formatting a table of contents
This means writing the headings and sub-headings with the roman figures and decimals beside it, like you can see above. I mean the 2.1, 2.2 etc. you can do this manually or automatically. By manual I mean writing out the figures yourself. For instance, in the example above, after writing carnivorous animals, you press enter. The computer write 3, but you delete and write 2.1, then write the topic and press enter and the computer will continue with that format until you change it.
But if you want to format a TOC automatically, you can do that easily with your computer. If you are using Microsoft 2010, open ms word, then identify the text you want to use as TOC. Now you go into the styles group within the home tab and click the style that you want, to select the heading you want to use. Then click on the references tab, at the left corner you will see table of contents, click automatic table 1 or 2 and it will appear on your page. As you can see, it has already been formatted. All you need to do is to change the headings and subheading.

How to write a TOC for your project.
If you are writing your final year project, the TOC is a bit different as it consists of standard five chapters. The first chapter is the introductory chapter. This introductory chapter consists of the introduction, statement of the problem, the research questions, aims and objectives of the study, significance of the project, scope and limitations of the study and definition of term.
The second chapter is the literature review. This is where you review previous works on the project topic. You search for other works that have been carried out on the topic of your project and write about it here.
The third chapter is called the research methodology. This is where you write about how you will carry out the research work of your project. This chapter includes research design, the population of study, the sample and sampling techniques you will use, instruments for data collection and data analysis methods and procedures.
The fourth chapter is where you analyze your experiments and research. This chapter is usually called data analysis and presentation. Depending on your course and the project topic, you will present the results of the research you have done; either in graphs, charts, drawings, or statistical tables.
The fifth and final chapter is the concluding part of the whole essay. The name is usually summary, conclusion and recommendations. As the name suggests, here you write the summation of all that you done so far, the conclusion from your results and the recommendation you want to give.
Then of course don’t forget your references at the end.
I am sure with the above; you can now write a table of contents for a novel, a report or your final year project. Is there any unique way of creating a table of contents that you use, let us know in the comments below.

Ugo Julie is a blogger who loves reading and writing. She writes on business and entrepreneurship on her

You may also like: Making Awesome Presentations Developing Outstanding Research Topics How to Write an abstarct How to Write a Project Proposal How To Choose the Right Measurement Instrument

Widget is loading comments...