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Academic Skills Human Geography and Spatial Planning

Cover page, table of contents and page numbering

The cover page is the first thing the reader sees of your report. A well-organised and clear layout is therefore essential. The cover page should include the following:

  • Title The primary purpose of the title is to provide information. You should tell the reader exactly what they can expect from your report. Do not be tempted to use the central question as a title. This is unusual in our field. You may also choose to use an original title with a play on words etc. instead of an informative title. In such cases, you should then accompany your original title with a more academic sub-title. Referencing an original title in the introduction and/or conclusion increases the impact of these chapters. Also remember that short titles sound powerful. Omit unnecessary words. Do not use punctuation marks or negatives. It is best not to waste too much time thinking about a title at the start of your project. Ideas will come to you when you dive deeper into your research. Until then, a working title is sufficient.
  • Sub-title (if applicable)
  • Name of the author
  • Name of the client (if applicable)
  • Date (at least month – year)

If the report is for an assignment:

  • Author’s student number
  • Name of the supervisor(s) (if applicable)
  • Utrecht University

An image on the cover page attracts attention. Reference the source on the back of the cover page or at the bottom of the next page, for example, the table of contents. Leave the rest of the back of the cover page blank. Keep this in mind when printing double-sided.

The table of contents is an indispensable guide in a report of some length. (The reader will be able to find their way through a three-page report without a table of contents.) The table of contents must include all chapters and sections (left aligned). All chapters (1) and sections (1.1) must be numbered. Indent the sections so that the hierarchy between chapters and sections is clear to the reader.

The page number on which the chapter or section begins should be right aligned. Indications such as p., pp. or pages are unnecessary. Do not forget to include appendices in the table of contents (including page numbers). The cover page never gets a page number and you do not include it in the table of contents.