Using section headings for structure, clarity and impact in successful scholarly papers and articles: Dr. Bagali, Centre for Research in Human Resources and Higher Education,Study Aboard Advisor, Map my study, India


The papers are built with a variety of elements and sub-elements. While all of these things may form and reflect when preparing a paper from their PhD study, an acceptable header offers the document a deep curiosity for readers to read it until the last line. It is possible that the titles of academic and scientific papers are much more than just a collection of fancy words when worded effectively. They are able to help organise and clarify the material for the reader, in addition to making the page(s) more engaging. The different parts, sections, and subsections used in an article are what are called as “headings.” However, if not well designed, they are little more than fancy words that could confuse or mislead readers while making the layout look cluttered. Readers may lose interest if the headlines are not appropriately phrased, relevant, and provide a thorough meaning of the text that flows.

Therefore, if you are presenting work for submission to a management and social sciences magazine or professional journal, you should consider the headings and the sub-headings you select. Most management and social science papers reflect headings which are titled – methodology, data collection, statistical inference, relevance, rigour, and  implications. When creating headings, it is important to remember the many types and degrees of headings required by your work, in addition to those described in the journal’s criteria. These two needs will generally be the same or very similar if you carefully select the journal to submit to and work to produce a manuscript that meets its specifications. This facilitates adherence to journal standards and requirements.

Keep in mind that each heading level should be the same and there should be a distinct gap between different heading levels. It is important that you study the author’s advice very carefully to ensure that you use the correct terminology, styles (such as specific typefaces, punctuation, etc.) and counting. If there are rules about the maximum number of header levels or the maximum length of each header, you must follow those rules. Even the strictest standards generally allow more leeway at lower header levels, despite the fact that some of the restrictions are quite explicit and specific while others are not. If your work is particularly involved, or if you think your audience would benefit from a closer look at your goals, methods, or results, you should select this option. However, the vast majority of readers, researchers, and academics are more interested in the categories titled implications, issues, limitations, and study addition. They are also of the opinion that consideration should be given to the direction of future research. Therefore, the advantage of reading your article is that you provide a course of action for the future, which can result in additional research and publications that were motivated by the work that you have done.

While clarity bring in more readers engagement and involvement in reading the work, few don;t include: 

  1. Just make sure your headings, subheadings aren’t confusing, straight to the point, and engaging.
  2. Avoid duplicating the header words, which indicate topics that haven’t been well explored.
  3. In headings, subheadings, one should also avoid using acronyms if possible. If necessary, be sure to clarify them at the beginning of the following text.
  4. Annotations should also be placed on the sentences within the section rather than on the heading at the top of the section.
  5. Dint miss headings – methods (methodology), findings, notes (end notes/foot notes) if you are using.
  6. There can be general headings (main), followed by specific headings (sub-headings).
  7. If you have a different or uniques Statistical Analysis, have a separate heading for this.
  8. Headings and sub-headings should not look like sentence- be short and avoid overdoing.

In case a structured summary is required, check that the headings are positioned appropriately. Keep in mind that proper and consistent spacing between headings can improve the appearance of your work and demonstrate that you are making an effort to meet the journal’s requirements and also giving readers a better readings of the work. Not a bad idea, but if you are open to double check, then, once you have your titles, subtitles, and headings in the correct order, you should have a close friend or professional proofreader go through your material to make sure the titles are accurate. Finally, there is no set amount of headings that the appearance should reflect; nonetheless, having more headings with sufficient substance in each heading results in a developed document. Following the author’s guidelines is always the finest strategy to prepare your work.


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