Table of Contents in MLA Format; How to Create One

The MLA format, which was developed by the Modern Language Association for students and academics in the humanities and arts, does not have strict rules on creating a table of contents. However, you might need to include a table of contents in MLA format if you are writing a lengthy paper in MLA format.

Table of contents is only essential when your paper has several chapters or section as in the case of a dissertation or a thesis. Creating a table of contents is not a daunting task. However, you have to keep in mind the formatting styles and rules. A table of contents page is one of the last pages to add to your paper. It serves as a map to your paper detailing the location of the headings and subheadings in the body of the paper.

Therefore, this article is aimed at illustrating how to create a standard table of contents in the MLA format by explaining the features it requires. There is no method of breaking up text in MLA format. Therefore, it is dependent on the content and the discretion of the author.

Basic Guidelines for Formatting the Table of Contents in MLA Format

check-mark Fonts: Times New Roman

check-mark Font size: 12 pts throughout the page

check-mark Margin: 1-inch margin for the top, bottom, right and left side of the page

check-mark Spacing: all text in the table of contents page should be double spaced

check-mark The headings included in the table of contents must be written in title case capitalization

Requirements for MLA Style Table of Contents

The table of contents of an MLA paper is a list that contains all the major headings and subheadings of an MLA paper. Plus, the table of contents should include the supplementary and preliminary pages of the paper as well as indicate their page numbers.

  • The table of contents page should be titled “contents” flushed to the left, in bold and at the top of the page.
  • Make sure all main headings are flushed to the left
  • The subheadings should be indented five spaces to the right
  • Include the page number that the heading and subheadings begin from
  • The table of contents of a typical MLA paper should not exceed two pages
  • A dotted line must link the headings and subheadings to their respective page number

Example:

Contents

 

Introduction……………………………………………………..2

The world……………………….………………………………..5

Geography……………………………………………6

Government……………………………………………………..8

Arms of government ……………………………10

Works Cited……………………………………………………..10

Generating an MLA Table of Contents Using Microsoft Word

You can generate an MLA table of contents that automatically updates the page numbers using Microsoft Word. By following these simple steps, you will create a table of contents for your paper automatically.

  • Navigate to the style ribbon in the Home tab and right-click on “heading 1”, select modify
  • A dialogue box will open. There you can edit the style to match the guidelines of the MLA format. Edit the font, the alignment as well as the spacing to match the MLA format
  • If you want to include subheadings in your table of content, then edit the next heading style and keep doing so till you get the number of subheading levels that you require for your table of contents
  • Apply the heading styles to the heading and subheading in your paper. Do this by highlighting the heading and subheadings one after the other and clicking on the appropriate heading style.
  • After you must have successfully selected a style for all the headings and subheadings to be included in your table of content, then you can generate your table of content automatically.
  • Go to the page you intend for your table of contents to be, typically after the abstract, navigate to the reference tab and click on the table of contents.
  • Select “automatic table 1” then your table of contents would be automatically generated.

 

Related Articles:

APA Table of Contents: How to Create One

MLA Title Page: A Definitive Guide