What Is a Research Paper Appendix?

Academic Writing updated on  July 6, 2023 4 min read

An appendix is a section added to the end of a research paper to give readers extra information. Appendices are labeled with numbers or letters and are often a good place to include data that might be distracting in the main text.

The word appendix comes from the root word append, a verb meaning “to attach or add.” Humans also have a body part we call an appendix, which has a reputation for being a useless extra. Although we can live without it, that body part has a function—and a research paper appendix is the same way. It may not be essential to the paper, but it’s good to have.

Purpose of an appendix in a research paper

So, what is an appendix in a research paper? In short, it’s a section at the end of the paper that offers the reader more details.

A well-written research paper contains all the information necessary to make the importance and outcome of the research clear. However, often researchers have other data that readers may be interested in or that can help support their conclusions. This information goes in an appendix so that readers can focus on the main points of the paper.

A research appendix often includes these types of items:

  • Raw data
  • Additional tables or figures, such as diagrams or photos
  • Calculations
  • Questionnaires or other forms used to gather data
  • Interview transcripts
  • Lists of tests, tools, and equipment
  • Emails or other communications
  • Supplemental or statistical analyses

Now that we live in a mostly digital age, many publications offer “online appendices”—extra files that you can download if you want to read beyond the main text of a research paper. One example is this paper about natural language processing. If you scroll down, you’ll find the heading “Supplemental Material” between the footnote and reference sections. On some websites, it may be called “Supplementary Data,” “Supporting Information,” or something similar, and it can appear before or after the references.

How to format an appendix and where to add it

All the information you display in appendices should be neatly formatted and easy to read. An appendix usually starts with the following:

  1. A heading with a number or letter, such as Appendix 3 or Appendix A, though if it’s the only appendix in the paper, it might simply say “Appendix”
  2. A title below the heading that tells what’s in it

Add your appendix after the references unless your style guide or your instructor says to place it before the references. If you have several different types of data or other information, you should display them separately in multiple appendices.

At the end of the section preceding the appendix, insert a page break to make sure the appendix starts on a new page. If your paper will have more than one appendix, then add a page break at the end of each one before starting the next one, like you would for chapters.

Appendices in a thesis, dissertation, or other long research paper should be listed in the table of contents if the paper has one. They should also have callouts in the text, just like tables or figures. A callout is a place in the text where you direct the reader to a specific item. It may be part of a sentence, or it may appear in parentheses within a sentence:

We used a brief survey, as shown in Appendix C, to gather constituents’ perspectives regarding the new policy.

We used a brief survey to gather constituents’ perspectives regarding the new policy (see Appendix C).

In academic writing, you’re probably following a style guide. Pay attention to its guidelines for appendices and their callouts. For example, in APA style, you should capitalize the word appendix in callouts, as we did above. However, you should lowercase it in Chicago style.

And one last thing: if you’re writing an appendix and any of the information it contains comes from other sources, don’t forget to add citations. QuillBot’s Citation Generator can help you format them correctly and avoid plagiarism.

Need to Cite sources used by you?
QuillBot's Citation Generator will enable you to quickly create citations in APA, MLA, Chicago, and other styles.

Example of an appendix in a research paper

This business research paper is an example of a paper that includes an appendix. It contains only one appendix because all the supplemental data consists of tables. The appendix begins on page 33, not immediately below the references on page 32.

Once you’ve added your appendix, use QuillBot to give your research paper a proofread before you submit it for a grade or for publication. Although including an appendix may be optional, making sure it’s error free isn’t if you want your paper to shine.

Is an appendix the same as a reference list?

No, an appendix is not the same as a reference list, bibliography, or Works Cited page. Lists of references should appear in every research paper, while an appendix is an extra feature—something you add only if you have information to share that is not necessary to include in your paper but could be helpful.

Why is it called an “appendix” in a document?

An appendix takes its name from the root word append, which means “to add or attach something.” Since an appendix is a supporting section added but not required, this name makes sense.


Hannah Skaggs

Along with Meredith Harris

Hannah, a writer and editor since 2017, specializes in clear and concise academic and business writing. She has mentored countless scholars and companies in writing authoritative and engaging content.

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