Laptop and notebook with pen

Formatting documents in APA or Chicago style is required by many journals and educational institutes. The APA style was originally developed by the American Psychological Association and contains guidelines for writing, using sources, referencing, adding footnotes, and formatting. The Chicago style was developed by the University of Chicago Press and contains different guidelines. The complete guidelines for these styles are very extensive and can be found here for APA style and here for Chicago style.  If it is your first time preparing a document in one of these styles it can be time-consuming and frustrating to figure out how to format your document correctly.  And you probably did not look for tips on formatting your document until after you wrote most of the text. This is unfortunate because formatting from the start will save you time later on. Here are some tips on how to generate the Table of Contents, format the Table of Tables, Table of Figures, and your References.


Automatically generating a Table of Contents

If you want Word to automatically generate a Table of Contents for you, you first need to define which headings in your document you want to show up in there. This you do by each time you have a heading (such as Introduction, Materials & Methods, Results, etc) select the word(s) of the heading and then in the tab ‘Home’ select in the Styles box: Heading 1. If you want both main headings and subheadings to end up in your Table of Contents then do the same for the subheadings but now select Heading 2 in the Styles box. See Picture above.


Updating the Table of ContentsOnce you have defined a number of headings you can go to the tab References, click on the ‘Table of Contents’ button, and choose a style. Remember that the Table of Contents will appear where your cursor is, so you may want to go to the right place first, usually somewhere at the start or end of your document. If you later on define additional headings in your manuscript you can update your Table of Contents by either clicking again on the ‘Table of Contents’ button in the References tab, or click on the Table of Contents itself which will reveal a button that allows you to update or change the format (see picture here).

Formatting table numbers and the Table of Tables

Generating the Table of Tables may seem a difficult task but it is actually fairly easy once you know how to do it. Make sure that for each table you write a title above it, the title (in italics) should be a brief explanation of the content of the table. Now, with your cursor in front of the title of your table go to the References tab and click on Insert Caption. A drop-down menu will appear where you choose Table (see picture below right).

Figure 1 The drop-down menu you see after clicking Insert Caption

The table number and title will appear in bold and blue (see below), you can change this later if you want with the regular font formatting tools.



The program will automatically generate the correct table number, even if you insert a new table in a document somewhere between existing tables. Subsequent tables will be automatically renumbered. However, when changing the order of tables, tables will not automatically be renumbered. To fix this, right-click on the number of the table and select Update Field. An easy way to check whether table numbers are in the right order is to update your Table of Tables (see below).

Now go to the page where you want the Table of Tables (a content list of all your tables) to appear and then in the References tab click on Insert Table of Figures and then on Ok. The Table of Tables will now appear with the correct page number behind it. You can update the Table of Tables by again in the References tab clicking on Insert Table of Tables, when the program asks you whether you want to replace the selected table, click Yes. Alternatively, right-click on the Table of Tables itself and select Update Field.

Table 1 Title of table………………………………………………………………………………………………………      1

Table 2 Demographic information of study subjects……………………………………………………………   5

Table 3 Title of another Table…………………………………………………………………………………………….      6

Table 4 Title of next table………………………………………………………………………………………………..       10

Below each table spell out each abbreviation you used in the table and also add other information that is essential to understand the table. Double-space the data in the tables. Make sure you refer in the main text of your manuscript to each table at least once (Table x).

Formatting the figure numbers and Table of Figures

Formatting the Table of Figures is of course very similar to formatting the Table of Tables. Place the title of the figure (in italics) below the figure. In the caption that you write below the figure title, describe: how the data were generated, what the axes indicate, spell out abbreviations, and add any other information that is essential to understand the figure. Double-space the caption. Again, make sure you refer in the main text of your manuscript to each figure at least once (Figure x).

Inserting and formatting references

From the day you start reading and collecting materials for your manuscript you should start using reference management software. You can find more information on the use and choice of reference management programs in one of my blogs here. Below some tips for using these programs, with Endnote and Mendeley as examples, other programs work similarly. After installing a reference software program (such as Endnote) make sure your Word program displays the tab of that program (via File > Customize ribbon > etc). Select APA (or Chicago) in the Style box and click Insert Citation to look for the correct citation in Endnote. You do need to enter the references in the Endnote program before being able to select them here. Most features are pretty much self-explanatory, just get started. If you turn Instant Formatting to On a reference list will automatically appear at the end of your document. You can easily move this list to a different page (such as before the tables and figures section). You can tweak the format of the reference list in Endnote (via Edit> Output Styles) and save your new Output Style under a different name.

Endnote tab in Word

For some reference software programs (such as Mendeley) you will find similar options under the tab References. In Mendeley, if you import the PDF into the program, it will automatically extract the required information (always check though, as this is not a perfect process). You can tweak the format of the reference list in Mendeley (via Tools > Options).

References tab in Word

If you need to present your references both in the footnotes and in a bibliography, such as required for Chicago style: In the Word ribbon go to the tab References and click on Insert footnote. Now go to the tab EndNote and click on Insert Citation, then select the citation you want to insert.

Formatting page numbers

To get different page numbers on Title page, pages with Table of Contents etc, and the pages with the Main text, do the following: make sure the three sections are defined as separate sections by using: Layout> Breaks> Section Breaks > Next page  at the start of each new section (this works best by inserting your cursor before the first character of each new section, click backspace (a couple of times if needed) to make the text move onto the previous page, then insert the Section Break).

After creating the separate sections, go to the main section of your manuscript. Use: Insert> Page Number > Format Page Number and choose 1,2,3  and unclick ‘Continue from Previous Section’. Now go to the Table of Contents section. Use: Insert> Page Number> Format Page Number and choose i,ii,iii and unclick ‘Continue from Previous Section’. Now go to the Title Page, click on the footer, a Tab will appear in the ribbon called ‘Header & Footer tools’,  click on Different First Page. If the page number did not already automatically disappear: select the pagenumber in that footer and delete it.


Formatting help

If you have any specific formatting questions email me at EVScienceConsultant [at] so I can add the answer.