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Headings identify new sections of your disquisition, and must be easy to distinguish from the paragraph text. If you use several levels of headings, the different levels must be easily identifiable from both the text and from the various heading levels.

  • Font and Margins – The font for all headings must be the same size and type as the rest of your disquisition. The margins must also be the same size as the rest of your disquisition.
  • Formatting – If you use special formatting for headings (including capitalization, italics, and numbering), that formatting must also be used in the entries for those headings in the Table of Contents. Only bold format is exempt.
  • Orphaned text - Make sure that headings are not orphaned at the bottom of a page, and separated from the first paragraph of content. For more information about orphans, see Paragraphs.
  • Running headers – Do not use running headers at the top of each page in the disquisition. Headings should appear only at the beginning of each section.

For more information about heading styles, refer to the style manual of your discipline (such as MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).

Major headings


Major headings are used at the beginning of the main sections of the disquisition, such as the prefatory material (like the Abstract, Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, etc.), the first page of each chapter, and the appendix (or appendices).

Major headings must use the following format:

  • Appear at the top of the first page of a major section.
  • Use center alignment.
  • Use ALL CAPS in the same font type as the rest of the disquisition.
  • Use a font size no larger than two font sizes larger than the paragraph text of the disquisition.
  • Must be included in the Table of Contents.



Subheadings appear between paragraphs of text, and do not use the same formatting that is used for the major headings. If you use several levels of subheadings, the different levels of subheadings must be easily identifiable.

You can distinguish subheadings through the use of italics, underlining, bold font, and the use of title case (capitalize all major words in the subheading) or sentence-case (capitalize only the first word in the subheading).

You do not have to include every level of subheading in the Table of Contents. However, if you include one subheading of a particular level, you must include all subheadings that appear in the disquisition that are of the same level. For more information and examples of subheadings, see Table of Contents.

Subheadings must meet the following requirements:

  • Not begin a new page, unless the heading appears at a natural page break.
  • Not use identical formatting as major headings. Only major headings can use all capital letters.
  • Not be orphaned from the first paragraph in the section.

Numbered headings vs. non-numbered headings


Heading numbers are optional. However, when you use heading numbers for one level of heading, all headings in the disquisition must be numbered.

If you use heading numbers, a period must follow the numbers in the text and in the Table of Contents. For example, the first subheading in the second chapter would be numbered “2.1. Subheading”.

For examples of numbered headings, download this file.

For examples of headings without numbers, download this file.

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NDSU Graduate School
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7033
Campus address:  106 Putnam Hall
Physical/delivery address:  NDSU Graduate School/106 Putnam Hall/1349 12th Avenue Northwest/Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address:  NDSU Dept. 2820/PO Box 6050/Fargo, ND 58108
Page manager: NDSU Graduate School

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 12:02:12 PM
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