The Appendix (How to Use One in an Essay)

The Appendix

For a long time, people mostly considered the human appendix a health hazard waiting to happen.

Not what this post is about.
Not what this post is about.

But recent research has shown it does have a purpose, so perhaps it’s more like the appendices in an essay than we thought: not essential, but playing an important supporting role.

Not everyone knows how to use an appendix in academic writing, though, so we’ve prepared this handy guide.

What Is an Appendix?

An appendix (plural: appendices) is a section at the end of a book or essay containing additional information. You should use it to cover data or details that aren’t essential to your work, but which could provide useful context or background material.

In the main body of your essay, you should indicate when you’re referring to an appendix by citing it in parentheses. For example:

The interviews show that most people like ice cream (see Appendix C for full transcripts).

What Should Go in the Appendices?

Appendices can include many things depending on your topic. Common examples of information added to an appendix include:

  • Raw data from tests
  • Technical figures, graphs or tables
  • Maps, charts or images
  • Letters or emails used in research
  • Sample questionnaires or surveys
  • Full interview transcripts

What these have in common is that you might need to refer to them in an essay without going into too much detail. For example, you might summarise the results of a test in the ‘Results’ section of a dissertation, then include the full data in appendices to ensure clarity.

How to Format Appendices

Exactly how to format appendices can vary between universities, so you should always check your style guide. Generally, though, appendices should:

  • Appear at the end of your document, often after the reference list
  • Be divided into sections depending on topic (e.g. separate sections for questionnaire results and interview transcripts)
  • Have each appendix section start on a new page
  • Be labelled with a letter or number, along with a title clarifying content (Appendix A: Instrument Diagrams, Appendix B: Test Results, etc.)
  • Appear in the table of contents at the beginning of your document
How not to format appendices: as a large pile of unsorted paper on your desk. (Photo: Phil Whitehouse/flickr)
How not to format appendices: as a pile of unsorted paper.
(Photo: Phil Whitehouse/flickr)

Are Appendices Included in the Word Count?

Appendices are not usually included in the word count for an essay. Consequently, you can focus on key information in your work and place extra data in an appendix without worrying about the word count.

However, this can vary, so you should always check your style guide on this. And remember that if you rely upon something in your main essay, it needs to be included there: you can’t just shuffle it into the appendices to reduce the word count!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *