Purdue Online Writing Lab College of Liberal Arts

how to make research paper tables

Tables and Figures

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resources for the older APA 6 style  can be found at this page  as well as at this page (our old resources covered the material on this page on two separate pages).

The purpose of tables and figures in documents is to enhance your readers' understanding of the information in the document; usually, large amounts of information can be communicated more efficiently in tables or figures. Tables are any graphic that uses a row and column structure to organize information, whereas figures include any illustration or image other than a table.

General guidelines

Visual material such as tables and figures can be used quickly and efficiently to present a large amount of information to an audience, but visuals must be used to assist communication, not to use up space, or disguise marginally significant results behind a screen of complicated statistics. Ask yourself this question first: Is the table or figure necessary? For example, it is better to present simple descriptive statistics in the text, not in a table.

Relation of Tables or Figures and Text

Because tables and figures supplement the text, refer in the text to all tables and figures used and explain what the reader should look for when using the table or figure. Focus only on the important point the reader should draw from them, and leave the details for the reader to examine on their own.


If you are using figures, tables and/or data from other sources, be sure to gather all the information you will need to properly document your sources.

Integrity and Independence

Each table and figure must be intelligible without reference to the text, so be sure to include an explanation of every abbreviation (except the standard statistical symbols and abbreviations).

Organization, Consistency, and Coherence

Number all tables sequentially as you refer to them in the text (Table 1, Table 2, etc.), likewise for figures (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.). Abbreviations, terminology, and probability level values must be consistent across tables and figures in the same article. Likewise, formats, titles, and headings must be consistent. Do not repeat the same data in different tables.

Data in a table that would require only two or fewer columns and rows should be presented in the text. More complex data is better presented in tabular format. In order for quantitative data to be presented clearly and efficiently, it must be arranged logically, e.g. data to be compared must be presented next to one another (before/after, young/old, male/female, etc.), and statistical information (means, standard deviations, N values) must be presented in separate parts of the table. If possible, use canonical forms (such as ANOVA, regression, or correlation) to communicate your data effectively.

This image shows a table with multiple notes formatted in APA 7 style.

A generic example of a table with multiple notes formatted in APA 7 style.

Elements of Tables

Number all tables with Arabic numerals sequentially. Do not use suffix letters (e.g. Table 3a, 3b, 3c); instead, combine the related tables. If the manuscript includes an appendix with tables, identify them with capital letters and Arabic numerals (e.g. Table A1, Table B2).

Like the title of the paper itself, each table must have a clear and concise title. Titles should be written in italicized title case below the table number, with a blank line between the number and the title. When appropriate, you may use the title to explain an abbreviation parenthetically.

Comparison of Median Income of Adopted Children (AC) v. Foster Children (FC)

Keep headings clear and brief. The heading should not be much wider than the widest entry in the column. Use of standard abbreviations can aid in achieving that goal. There are several types of headings:

All columns must have headings, written in sentence case and using singular language (Item rather than Items) unless referring to a group (Men, Women). Each column’s items should be parallel (i.e., every item in a column labeled “%” should be a percentage and does not require the % symbol, since it’s already indicated in the heading). Subsections within the stub column can be shown by indenting headings rather than creating new columns:

Chemical Bonds




The body is the main part of the table, which includes all the reported information organized in cells (intersections of rows and columns). Entries should be center aligned unless left aligning them would make them easier to read (longer entries, usually). Word entries in the body should use sentence case. Leave cells blank if the element is not applicable or if data were not obtained; use a dash in cells and a general note if it is necessary to explain why cells are blank.   In reporting the data, consistency is key: Numerals should be expressed to a consistent number of decimal places that is determined by the precision of measurement. Never change the unit of measurement or the number of decimal places in the same column.

There are three types of notes for tables: general, specific, and probability notes. All of them must be placed below the table in that order.

General  notes explain, qualify or provide information about the table as a whole. Put explanations of abbreviations, symbols, etc. here.

Example:  Note . The racial categories used by the US Census (African-American, Asian American, Latinos/-as, Native-American, and Pacific Islander) have been collapsed into the category “non-White.” E = excludes respondents who self-identified as “White” and at least one other “non-White” race.

Specific  notes explain, qualify or provide information about a particular column, row, or individual entry. To indicate specific notes, use superscript lowercase letters (e.g.  a ,  b ,  c ), and order the superscripts from left to right, top to bottom. Each table’s first footnote must be the superscript  a .

a  n = 823.  b  One participant in this group was diagnosed with schizophrenia during the survey.

Probability  notes provide the reader with the results of the tests for statistical significance. Asterisks indicate the values for which the null hypothesis is rejected, with the probability ( p value) specified in the probability note. Such notes are required only when relevant to the data in the table. Consistently use the same number of asterisks for a given alpha level throughout your paper.

* p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p < .001

If you need to distinguish between two-tailed and one-tailed tests in the same table, use asterisks for two-tailed p values and an alternate symbol (such as daggers) for one-tailed p values.

* p < .05, two-tailed. ** p < .01, two-tailed. † p <.05, one-tailed. †† p < .01, one-tailed.


Tables should only include borders and lines that are needed for clarity (i.e., between elements of a decked head, above column spanners, separating total rows, etc.). Do not use vertical borders, and do not use borders around each cell. Spacing and strict alignment is typically enough to clarify relationships between elements.

This image shows an example of a table presented in the text of an APA 7 paper.

Example of a table in the text of an APA 7 paper. Note the lack of vertical borders.

Tables from Other Sources

If using tables from an external source, copy the structure of the original exactly, and cite the source in accordance with  APA style .

Table Checklist

(Taken from the  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 7th ed., Section 7.20)

Figures include all graphical displays of information that are not tables. Common types include graphs, charts, drawings, maps, plots, and photos. Just like tables, figures should supplement the text and should be both understandable on their own and referenced fully in the text. This section details elements of formatting writers must use when including a figure in an APA document, gives an example of a figure formatted in APA style, and includes a checklist for formatting figures.

Preparing Figures

In preparing figures, communication and readability must be the ultimate criteria. Avoid the temptation to use the special effects available in most advanced software packages. While three-dimensional effects, shading, and layered text may look interesting to the author, overuse, inconsistent use, and misuse may distort the data, and distract or even annoy readers. Design properly done is inconspicuous, almost invisible, because it supports communication. Design improperly, or amateurishly, done draws the reader’s attention from the data, and makes him or her question the author’s credibility. Line drawings are usually a good option for readability and simplicity; for photographs, high contrast between background and focal point is important, as well as cropping out extraneous detail to help the reader focus on the important aspects of the photo.

Parts of a Figure

All figures that are part of the main text require a number using Arabic numerals (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.). Numbers are assigned based on the order in which figures appear in the text and are bolded and left aligned.

Under the number, write the title of the figure in italicized title case. The title should be brief, clear, and explanatory, and both the title and number should be double spaced.

The image of the figure is the body, and it is positioned underneath the number and title. The image should be legible in both size and resolution; fonts should be sans serif, consistently sized, and between 8-14 pt. Title case should be used for axis labels and other headings; descriptions within figures should be in sentence case. Shading and color should be limited for clarity; use patterns along with color and check contrast between colors with free online checkers to ensure all users (people with color vision deficiencies or readers printing in grayscale, for instance) can access the content. Gridlines and 3-D effects should be avoided unless they are necessary for clarity or essential content information.

Legends, or keys, explain symbols, styles, patterns, shading, or colors in the image. Words in the legend should be in title case; legends should go within or underneath the image rather than to the side. Not all figures will require a legend.

Notes clarify the content of the figure; like tables, notes can be general, specific, or probability. General notes explain units of measurement, symbols, and abbreviations, or provide citation information. Specific notes identify specific elements using superscripts; probability notes explain statistical significance of certain values.

This image shows a generic example of a bar graph formatted as a figure in APA 7 style.

A generic example of a figure formatted in APA 7 style.

Figure Checklist 

(Taken from the  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 7 th ed., Section 7.35)

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

Tables in your dissertation

Published on November 2, 2016 by Kirsten Dingemanse . Revised on January 31, 2020.

Dissertations and theses often include tables. One advantage of tables is that they allow you to present data in a clear and concise manner without having to provide a lengthy explanation in the text. This is particularly helpful in sections such as your results chapter.

Table of contents

Step 1. decide where to insert a table, step 2. create your table, example of a table in apa style, step 3. assign your table a number and title, step 4. clarify your table with a note (optional), step 5. cite the table within the text, where should you add a table.

Tables are often included in the main body of a dissertation, so that readers can view them straight away. In this case, place the table immediately above or below the paragraph in which you introduce or refer to it.

If you are not allowed to include tables within your main text or your tables are very long, you can instead put them in an appendix to your dissertation. However, bear in mind that doing so might make your text less readable, as readers will always have to turn to an appendix . It’s thus better to include at least key tables in the main document.

Be careful. Never directly import tables from a statistical analysis program such as SPSS, as these tables provide too much detailed information. For instance, if you just want to report the results of a t-test from SPSS, your table likely does not need to include figures related to the standard mean error.

All word processing programs include an option to create a table. For example, in Word’s top menu bar you can either click on the “Table” tab or select Insert -> Table -> New.

word insert table

To keep your tables consistent, it’s important that you use the same formatting throughout your dissertation. For example, make sure that you always use the same line spacing (e.g., single vs. double), that the data is aligned the same way (namely center, left or right) and that your column and row headings always reflect the same style same (for example, bold).

If you are using Word, you can also opt to use one of the program’s pre-set table styles. Doing so will ensure that all of the tables throughout your dissertation have the same formatting. You can apply one of these styles by selecting the table and then selecting one of the preformatted “Table Styles.”

word tabedesigner

Here's why students love Scribbr's proofreading services

Discover proofreading & editing

For examples of tables in MLA format , check our guide here .

Once you have decided where to incorporate a table, assign it a number (which should then be noted at the top of the table). Different numbering schemes can be used, but the easiest is to just use Table 1, Table 2 and so forth. Numbers will allow you to easily refer to the correct table within the text.

You can also set a table up so that Word automatically assigns it a number. We recommend that you do this, as it will ensure that your table numbers are always correct. For instance, if you add a new table in the middle of your dissertation, Word will automatically adjust the table numbers throughout the rest of the document. Using this Word feature also makes it easy to generate a list of tables .

Automatically numbering tables

To use automatic numbering, click on the tab ‘Reference’ and select ‘Insert Caption’.


Titling tables

It is important that you always give each table a title. If you use automatic table numbering, a table’s title will automatically be noted after its number.

A table title should be clear and comprehensive enough that it does not need to be explained in the text. Readers should be able to understand what a table contains solely on the basis of its title.

Make sure you also follow any title specifications that either your academic program or the citation style you are using dictates. For instance, in APA Style it is customary to put a table’s title under its number.

A note can be used for information that helps to clarify the data in a table. For example, you can specify p-values, define abbreviations or explain further details related to a particular row or column. If you don’t have anything special to convey (and the table is your own creation), you don’t need to include a note.

Table from another source

If you have taken a table from another source, it’s mandatory that you explain this in a note. However, how this should be done varies by citation style . Below we explain how you should handle a table from another source according to the APA Style .

The APA Style specifies that you should write “Reprinted from” or “Adapted from” followed by the title and complete source information of the book or article that you have taken the table from.

It is important that you always refer to your table in the text. This helps readers to understand why the table is included and ensures that you don’t have any “free-floating” tables in your dissertation. All tables should have a clear function.

When citing a table in your running text, mention the table’s number instead of using phrases such as “the table below” (which can create confusion for your readers).

A numbered table in the main document

The table below shows that…

Table 1 shows that…

When referring to a table in an appendix, include both the table number and the appendix number.

A numbered table in the appendix

Table 2 (see Appendix 1) shows that…

There is evidence that… (see Table 2, Appendix 1)


If you automate the numbering of your tables, you can choose to apply cross-references. This feature creates links in your text that lead directly to the corresponding table when clicked. The advantage of this is that the numbering is always correct.

In Word, cross-referencing can be activated by selecting Insert ->  Cross-Reference from the top menu bar. From there set the “Reference type” to “Table” and “Insert reference to” to whatever you wish to include (for example, the entire caption or only the table’s name and number). Then select the table to which you want to link and click “Insert”.


Checklist: Tables

Each table has a number.

Each table has a clear, descriptive title.

All tables are consistently formatted according to my style guide or department’s requirements.

The content of each table is clearly understandable in its own right.

I have referred to each table in the main text.

I have correctly cited the source of any tables reproduced or adapted from other authors.

Your tables look great! Use the other checklists to improve your thesis or dissertation.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Dingemanse, K. (2020, January 31). Tables in your dissertation. Scribbr. Retrieved February 27, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/tips/tables-in-your-dissertation/

Is this article helpful?

Kirsten Dingemanse

Kirsten Dingemanse

What is your plagiarism score.

Enago Academy

Effective Use of Tables and Figures in Research Papers

' src=

Research papers are often based on copious amounts of data that can be summarized and easily read through tables and graphs. When writing a research paper , it is important for data to be presented to the reader in a visually appealing way. The data in figures and tables, however, should not be a repetition of the data found in the text. There are many ways of presenting data in tables and figures, governed by a few simple rules. An APA research paper and MLA research paper both require tables and figures, but the rules around them are different. When writing a research paper, the importance of tables and figures cannot be underestimated. How do you know if you need a table or figure? The rule of thumb is that if you cannot present your data in one or two sentences, then you need a table .

Using Tables

Tables are easily created using programs such as Excel. Tables and figures in scientific papers are wonderful ways of presenting data. Effective data presentation in research papers requires understanding your reader and the elements that comprise a table. Tables have several elements, including the legend, column titles, and body. As with academic writing, it is also just as important to structure tables so that readers can easily understand them. Tables that are disorganized or otherwise confusing will make the reader lose interest in your work.

Related: Done organizing your research data effectively in tables? Check out this post on tips for citing tables in your manuscript now!

The placement of figures and tables should be at the center of the page. It should be properly referenced and ordered in the number that it appears in the text. In addition, tables should be set apart from the text. Text wrapping should not be used. Sometimes, tables and figures are presented after the references in selected journals.

Using Figures

Figures can take many forms, such as bar graphs, frequency histograms, scatterplots, drawings, maps, etc. When using figures in a research paper, always think of your reader. What is the easiest figure for your reader to understand? How can you present the data in the simplest and most effective way? For instance, a photograph may be the best choice if you want your reader to understand spatial relationships.

Common Errors in Research Papers

Effective data presentation in research papers requires understanding the common errors that make data presentation ineffective. These common mistakes include using the wrong type of figure for the data. For instance, using a scatterplot instead of a bar graph for showing levels of hydration is a mistake. Another common mistake is that some authors tend to italicize the table number. Remember, only the table title should be italicized .  Another common mistake is failing to attribute the table. If the table/figure is from another source, simply put “ Note. Adapted from…” underneath the table. This should help avoid any issues with plagiarism.

Using tables and figures in research papers is essential for the paper’s readability. The reader is given a chance to understand data through visual content. When writing a research paper, these elements should be considered as part of good research writing. APA research papers, MLA research papers, and other manuscripts require visual content if the data is too complex or voluminous. The importance of tables and graphs is underscored by the main purpose of writing, and that is to be understood.

' src=

Enago is a very useful site. It covers nearly all topics of research writing and publishing in a simple, clear, attractive way. Though I’m a journal editor having much knowledge and training in these issues, I always find something new in this site. Thank you

“Thank You, your contents really help me :)”

Rate this article Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

how to make research paper tables

Enago Academy's Most Popular

explanatory variables

Explanatory & Response Variable in Statistics — A quick guide for early career researchers!

Often researchers have a difficult time choosing the parameters and variables (like explanatory and response…

data visualization techniques

How to Use Creative Data Visualization Techniques for Easy Comprehension of Qualitative Research

“A picture is worth a thousand words!”—an adage used so often stands true even whilst…

statistics in research

Effective Use of Statistics in Research – Methods and Tools for Data Analysis

Remember that impending feeling you get when you are asked to analyze your data! Now…

SCI中稿技巧: 提升研究数据的说服力

如何寻找原创研究课题 快速定位目标文献的有效搜索策略 如何根据期刊指南准备手稿的对应部分 论文手稿语言润色实用技巧分享,快速提高论文质量


Distill: A Journal With Interactive Images for Machine Learning Research

Research is a wide and extensive field of study. This field has welcomed a plethora…

Explanatory & Response Variable in Statistics — A quick guide for early career…

How to Create and Use Gantt Charts

Sign-up to read more

Subscribe for free to get unrestricted access to all our resources on research writing and academic publishing including:

We hate spam too. We promise to protect your privacy and never spam you.

I am looking for Editing/ Proofreading services for my manuscript Tentative date of next journal submission:

how to make research paper tables

For what are you most likely to depend on AI-assistance?

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Figures and Charts

What this handout is about.

This handout will describe how to use figures and tables to present complicated information in a way that is accessible and understandable to your reader.

Do I need a figure/table?

When planning your writing, it is important to consider the best way to communicate information to your audience, especially if you plan to use data in the form of numbers, words, or images that will help you construct and support your argument.  Generally speaking, data summaries may take the form of text, tables or figures. Most writers are familiar with textual data summaries and this is often the best way to communicate simple results. A good rule of thumb is to see if you can present your results clearly in a sentence or two. If so, a table or figure is probably unnecessary. If your data are too numerous or complicated to be described adequately in this amount of space, figures and tables can be effective ways of conveying lots of information without cluttering up your text. Additionally, they serve as quick references for your reader and can reveal trends, patterns, or relationships that might otherwise be difficult to grasp.

So what’s the difference between a table and a figure anyway?

Tables present lists of numbers or text in columns and can be used to synthesize existing literature, to explain variables, or to present the wording of survey questions. They are also used to make a paper or article more readable by removing numeric or listed data from the text. Tables are typically used to present raw data, not when you want to show a relationship between variables.

Figures are visual presentations of results. They come in the form of graphs, charts, drawings, photos, or maps.  Figures provide visual impact and can effectively communicate your primary finding. Traditionally, they are used to display trends and patterns of relationship, but they can also be used to communicate processes or display complicated data simply.  Figures should not duplicate the same information found in tables and vice versa.

Using tables

Tables are easily constructed using your word processor’s table function or a spread sheet program such as Excel. Elements of a table include the Legend or Title, Column Titles, and the Table Body (quantitative or qualitative data). They may also include subheadings and footnotes. Remember that it is just as important to think about the organization of tables as it is to think about the organization of paragraphs. A well-organized table allows readers to grasp the meaning of the data presented with ease, while a disorganized one will leave the reader confused about the data itself, or the significance of the data.

Title: Tables are headed by a number followed by a clear, descriptive title or caption. Conventions regarding title length and content vary by discipline. In the hard sciences, a lengthy explanation of table contents may be acceptable. In other disciplines, titles should be descriptive but short, and any explanation or interpretation of data should take place in the text. Be sure to look up examples from published papers within your discipline that you can use as a model. It may also help to think of the title as the “topic sentence” of the table—it tells the reader what the table is about and how it’s organized. Tables are read from the top down, so titles go above the body of the table and are left-justified.

Column titles: The goal of column headings is to simplify and clarify the table, allowing the reader to understand the components of the table quickly. Therefore, column titles should be brief and descriptive and should include units of analysis.

Table body: This is where your data are located, whether they are numerical or textual. Again, organize your table in a way that helps the reader understand the significance of the data. Be sure to think about what you want your readers to compare, and put that information in the column (up and down) rather than in the row (across). In other words, construct your table so that like elements read down, not across. When using numerical data with decimals, make sure that the decimal points line up. Whole numbers should line up on the right.

Other table elements

Tables should be labeled with a number preceding the table title; tables and figures are labeled independently of one another. Tables should also have lines demarcating different parts of the table (title, column headers, data, and footnotes if present). Gridlines or boxes should not be included in printed versions. Tables may or may not include other elements, such as subheadings or footnotes.

Quick reference for tables

Tables should be:

Table 1. Physical characteristics of the Doctor in the new series of Doctor Who

Table 2. Physical characteristics of the Doctor in the new series of Doctor Who

Using figures

Figures can take many forms. They may be graphs, diagrams, photos, drawings, or maps. Think deliberately about your purpose and use common sense to choose the most effective figure for communicating the main point. If you want your reader to understand spatial relationships, a map or photograph may be the best choice. If you want to illustrate proportions, experiment with a pie chart or bar graph. If you want to illustrate the relationship between two variables, try a line graph or a scatterplot (more on various types of graphs below). Although there are many types of figures, like tables, they share some typical features: captions, the image itself, and any necessary contextual information (which will vary depending on the type of figure you use).

Figure captions

Figures should be labeled with a number followed by a descriptive caption or title. Captions should be concise but comprehensive. They should describe the data shown, draw attention to important features contained within the figure, and may sometimes also include interpretations of the data. Figures are typically read from the bottom up, so captions go below the figure and are left-justified.

The most important consideration for figures is simplicity. Choose images the viewer can grasp and interpret clearly and quickly. Consider size, resolution, color, and prominence of important features. Figures should be large enough and of sufficient resolution for the viewer to make out details without straining their eyes. Also consider the format your paper will ultimately take. Journals typically publish figures in black and white, so any information coded by color will be lost to the reader.  On the other hand, color might be a good choice for papers published to the web or for PowerPoint presentations. In any case, use figure elements like color, line, and pattern for effect, not for flash.

Additional information

Figures should be labeled with a number preceding the table title; tables and figures are numbered independently of one another. Also be sure to include any additional contextual information your viewer needs to understand the figure. For graphs, this may include labels, a legend explaining symbols, and vertical or horizontal tick marks. For maps, you’ll need to include a scale and north arrow. If you’re unsure about contextual information, check out several types of figures that are commonly used in your discipline.

Quick reference for figures

Figures should be:

Every graph is a figure but not every figure is a graph. Graphs are a particular set of figures that display quantitative relationships between variables. Some of the most common graphs include bar charts, frequency histograms, pie charts, scatter plots, and line graphs, each of which displays trends or relationships within and among datasets in a different way. You’ll need to carefully choose the best graph for your data and the relationship that you want to show. More details about some common graph types are provided below. Some good advice regarding the construction of graphs is to keep it simple. Remember that the main objective of your graph is communication. If your viewer is unable to visually decode your graph, then you have failed to communicate the information contained within it.

Pie charts are used to show relative proportions, specifically the relationship of a number of parts to the whole. Use pie charts only when the parts of the pie are mutually exclusive categories and the sum of parts adds up to a meaningful whole (100% of something). Pie charts are good at showing “big picture” relationships (i.e. some categories make up “a lot” or “a little” of the whole thing). However, if you want your reader to discern fine distinctions within your data, the pie chart is not for you. Humans are not very good at making comparisons based on angles. We are much better at comparing length, so try a bar chart as an alternative way to show relative proportions. Additionally, pie charts with lots of little slices or slices of very different sizes are difficult to read, so limit yours to 5-7 categories.

first bad pie chart

The chart shows the relative proportion of fifteen elements in Martian soil, listed in order from “most” to “least”: oxygen, silicon, iron, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, aluminum, sodium, potassium, chlorine, helium, nitrogen, phosphorus, beryllium, and other. Oxygen makes up about ⅓ of the composition, while silicon and iron together make up about ¼. The remaining slices make up smaller proportions, but the percentages aren’t listed in the key and are difficult to estimate. It is also hard to distinguish fifteen colors when comparing the pie chart to the color coded key.

second bad pie chart

The chart shows the relative proportion of five leisure activities of Venusian teenagers (tanning, trips to Mars, reading, messing with satellites, and stealing Earth cable). Although each of the five slices are about the same size (roughly 20% of the total), the percentage of Venusian teenagers engaging in each activity varies widely (tanning: 80%, trips to Mars: 40%, reading: 12%, messing with satellites: 30%, stealing Earth cable: 77%). Therefore, there is a mismatch between the labels and the actual proportion represented by each activity (in other words, if reading represents 12% of the total, its slice should take up 12% of the pie chart area), which makes the representation inaccurate. In addition, the labels for the five slices add up to 239% (rather than 100%), which makes it impossible to accurately represent this dataset using a pie chart.

Bar graphs are also used to display proportions. In particular, they are useful for showing the relationship between independent and dependent variables, where the independent variables are discrete (often nominal) categories. Some examples are occupation, gender, and species. Bar graphs can be vertical or horizontal. In a vertical bar graph the independent variable is shown on the x axis (left to right) and the dependent variable on the y axis (up and down). In a horizontal one, the dependent variable will be shown on the horizontal (x) axis, the independent on the vertical (y) axis. The scale and origin of the graph should be meaningful. If the dependent (numeric) variable has a natural zero point, it is commonly used as a point of origin for the bar chart. However, zero is not always the best choice. You should experiment with both origin and scale to best show the relevant trends in your data without misleading the viewer in terms of the strength or extent of those trends.

bar graph

The graph shows the number of male and female spaceship crew members for five different popular television series: Star Trek (1965), Battlestar (1978), Star Trek: TNG (1987), Stargate SG-1 (1997), and Firefly (2002). Because the television series are arranged chronologically on the x-axis, the graph can also be used to look for trends in these numbers over time.

Although the number of crew members for each show is similar (ranging from 9 to 11), the proportion of female and male crew members varies. Star Trek has half as many female crew members as male crew members (3 and 6, respectively), Battlestar has fewer than one-fourth as many female crew members as male crew members (2 and 9, respectively), Star Trek: TNG has four female crew members and six male crew members, Stargate SG-1 has less than one-half as many female crew members as male crew members (3 and 7, respectively), and Firefly has four female and five male crew members.

Frequency histograms/distributions

Frequency histograms are a special type of bar graph that show the relationship between independent and dependent variables, where the independent variable is continuous, rather than discrete. This means that each bar represents a range of values, rather than a single observation. The dependent variables in a histogram are always numeric, but may be absolute (counts) or relative (percentages). Frequency histograms are good for describing populations—examples include the distribution of exam scores for students in a class or the age distribution of the people living in Chapel Hill. You can experiment with bar ranges (also known as “bins”) to achieve the best level of detail, but each range or bin should be of uniform width and clearly labeled.

XY scatter plots

Scatter plots are another way to illustrate the relationship between two variables. In this case, data are displayed as points in an x,y coordinate system, where each point represents one observation along two axes of variation. Often, scatter plots are used to illustrate correlation between two variables—as one variable increases, the other increases (positive correlation) or decreases (negative correlation). However, correlation does not necessarily imply that changes in one variable cause changes in the other. For instance, a third, unplotted variable may be causing both. In other words, scatter plots can be used to graph one independent and one dependent variable, or they can be used to plot two independent variables. In cases where one variable is dependent on another (for example, height depends partly on age), plot the independent variable on the horizontal (x) axis, and the dependent variable on the vertical (y) axis. In addition to correlation (a linear relationship), scatter plots can be used to plot non-linear relationships between variables.

scatter plot

The scatter plot shows the relationship between temperature (x-axis, independent variable) and the number of UFO sightings (y-axis, dependent variable) for 53 separate data points. The temperature ranges from about 0°F and 120°F, and the number of UFO sightings ranges from 1 to 10. The plot shows a low number of UFO sightings (ranging from 1 to 4) at temperatures below 80°F and a much wider range of the number of sightings (from 1 to 10) at temperatures above 80°F. It appears that the number of sightings tends to increase as temperature increases, though there are many cases where only a few sightings occur at high temperatures.

XY line graphs

Line graphs are similar to scatter plots in that they display data along two axes of variation. Line graphs, however, plot a series of related values that depict a change in one variable as a function of another, for example, world population (dependent) over time (independent). Individual data points are joined by a line, drawing the viewer’s attention to local change between adjacent points, as well as to larger trends in the data. Line graphs are similar to bar graphs, but are better at showing the rate of change between two points. Line graphs can also be used to compare multiple dependent variables by plotting multiple lines on the same graph.

Example of an XY line graph:

XY line graph

The line graph shows the age (in years) of the actor of each Doctor Who regeneration for the first through the eleventh regeneration. The ages range from a maximum of about 55 in the first regeneration to a minimum of about 25 in the eleventh regeneration. There is a downward trend in the age of the actors over the course of the eleven regenerations.

General tips for graphs

Strive for simplicity. Your data will be complex. Don’t be tempted to convey the complexity of your data in graphical form. Your job (and the job of your graph) is to communicate the most important thing about the data. Think of graphs like you think of paragraphs—if you have several important things to say about your data, make several graphs, each of which highlights one important point you want to make.

Strive for clarity. Make sure that your data are portrayed in a way that is visually clear. Make sure that you have explained the elements of the graph clearly. Consider your audience. Will your reader be familiar with the type of figure you are using (such as a boxplot)? If not, or if you’re not sure, you may need to explain boxplot conventions in the text. Avoid “chartjunk.” Superfluous elements just make graphs visually confusing. Your reader does not want to spend 15 minutes figuring out the point of your graph.

Strive for accuracy. Carefully check your graph for errors. Even a simple graphical error can change the meaning and interpretation of the data. Use graphs responsibly. Don’t manipulate the data so that it looks like it’s saying something it’s not—savvy viewers will see through this ruse, and you will come off as incompetent at best and dishonest at worst.

How should tables and figures interact with text?

Placement of figures and tables within the text is discipline-specific. In manuscripts (such as lab reports and drafts) it is conventional to put tables and figures on separate pages from the text, as near as possible to the place where you first refer to it. You can also put all the figures and tables at the end of the paper to avoid breaking up the text. Figures and tables may also be embedded in the text, as long as the text itself isn’t broken up into small chunks. Complex raw data is conventionally presented in an appendix. Be sure to check on conventions for the placement of figures and tables in your discipline.

You can use text to guide the reader in interpreting the information included in a figure, table, or graph—tell the reader what the figure or table conveys and why it was important to include it.

When referring to tables and graphs from within the text, you can use:

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

American Psychological Association. 2010. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Bates College. 2012. “ Almost everything you wanted to know about making tables and figures.” How to Write a Paper in Scientific Journal Style and Format , January 11, 2012. http://abacus.bates.edu/~ganderso/biology/resources/writing/HTWtablefigs.html.

Cleveland, William S. 1994. The Elements of Graphing Data , 2nd ed. Summit, NJ: Hobart Press..

Council of Science Editors. 2014. Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers , 8th ed. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press.

University of Chicago Press. 2017. The Chicago Manual of Style , 17th ed. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press.

Creative Commons License

Make a Gift

PhD Thesis Editing

Book Editing

Medical Editing

Medical Editing Services

Select Page

Presenting Data and Sources Accurately and Effectively

how to make research paper tables

Table of Contents (Guide To Publication)

Part ii: preparing, presenting and polishing your work – chapter 5, 5. presenting data and sources accurately and effectively.

Journal guidelines vary greatly when it comes to the advice they provide about presenting data and referring to sources. In some cases separate sections containing detailed instructions about exactly how to lay out tables and figures and how to format citations and references will be provided, while in others authors will simply be advised to format tables and figures in ‘an appropriate’ manner and will be lucky to find two or three reference examples to follow. Tables and figures do seem to receive fairly good coverage in the guidelines of most scholarly journals, however, and generally you will be able to find some indication of the referencing style required. So read anything and everything you can find in the guidelines about these elements of your paper, pay careful attention to any models provided (both appropriate and inappropriate), consult any manuals or other style guides mentioned and take a close look at papers already published by the journal to see how references, tables and figures were successfully formatted. What you learn can be both followed and used to inspire your own designs when constructing your references, tables and figures.

how to make research paper tables

5.1 Tables, Figures and Other Research Data: Guidelines and Good Practice

Although the advice I share in this section should not be taken as a substitute for journal guidelines when it comes to the layout of tables and figures, it stems from a familiarity with the guidelines of many journals and the experience of encountering many tables and figures that present unfamiliar data. As with every other aspect of your paper, clarity, accuracy and precision are essential, and in the case of tables and figures, there’s little space for explanation, so data must for the most part stand on their own, with only the format you shape around them to lend structure and meaning. This means that the format of your tables and figures needs to be thought out very carefully: there needs to be enough space both to present and to separate all the information your tables and figures contain in ways that facilitate your readers’ understanding. Poorly laid out tables and figures can instead obscure that understanding, so it’s important to analyse your tables and figures as a reader would, seeking the information you’re providing, and then edit and reshape until your tables and figures achieve just what they should. Some journals will insist that tables and figures only be used if they include or illustrate information not presented elsewhere in the paper, and frown on those that repeat data in any way. So the first consideration should be whether you need tables and figures to share your research and results effectively and, if so, what exactly those tables and figures should contain. Illustrating devices or conditions discussed in a paper, providing graphs and lists of data that cannot be accommodated in detail in an article and highlighting the most significant aspects of the results of a study are a few of many reasons to provide tables and figures for your readers,

how to make research paper tables

Once you’ve decided that your paper does require tables and/or figures, some basic practices and concerns found in the guidelines of many journals should be considered. For tables, for instance, ask yourself if you will you require lines or rules to separate the material – some journals ask that vertical lines be avoided, others that rules of all kinds be avoided, and a table may take more space on the page if you need to construct it without lines. For figures, there is the matter of using colour or not: some journals only print tables in monochrome (black and white) and include figures in colour solely online, while others will be happy to print your figures in colour, but they may charge a significant amount for it, so you’ll need to decide whether printing the figures in colour is worth the cost. For both tables and figures, consider the overall size of each item in terms of the printed page of the journal, and if your tables or figures will need to be reduced to such a degree that they may no longer be clear or legible, you may have to present the information in a different format or divide the information you’ve compiled in one table or figure into two or three tables or figures. Online publication is often the best route for large tables and figures, and colour rarely proves a problem with online publication.

how to make research paper tables

Remember as you’re constructing your tables and figures that as a general rule each table and figure should be able to stand alone, whether it’s printed amidst the text of your paper or published separately online. For this reason, all abbreviations beyond the standard ones for common measures (cm, Hz, mph, N, SD, etc.) will need to be defined either in the table or figure itself or in close association with it, and this is the case even if you’ve already defined the abbreviations in your paper and in any preceding tables or figures. You can choose to write each term out in full within the body of the table or figure, or introduce and define the abbreviations in the heading or title of a table or in the caption or legend of a figure, or you can define any abbreviations used in a note at the bottom of the table or figure. This last approach is used for tables more often than for figures, and the abbreviations within a table are usually connected to the definitions in the note via superscript lowercase letters (but not always, so do check the journal guidelines). If you’re in any doubt about whether an abbreviation should be defined for your readers, it’s best to define it: such attention is a sign of conscientious documentation, and if the journal deems the definition unnecessary, it can always be removed.

Be sure that the terms you use in your tables and figures match those you use in the paper itself precisely, and that the abbreviations take the same forms in both the paper and the tables and figures. In fact, it’s essential to ensure that all the data presented in tables and figures are entirely consistent with data presented in the paper (and the abstract as well). This is to say that the format in which you present similar data in both places should be identical, and any overlapping data should be exactly the same in content as well as format in both places. Remember that data stand alone in a table or figure, so they need to be perfect and should be checked more than once by more than one pair of knowledgeable eyes. Even a simple error can not only render the information incorrect, it can also alter the overall appearance of the table or figure, and since an effective visual representation of information is precisely the goal of tables and figures, this can be disastrous. All numbers in a table or figure can be written as numerals and should be accurately formatted in keeping with English convention and/or journal guidelines (on the use of numbers in academic or scientific prose, see Section 4.4.1 above).

Journal guidelines should also be consulted to determine exactly how to place and submit your tables and figures in relation to your paper. Variations are myriad: when submitting to some journals you can simply place your tables and figures where you’d have them located in the published version; others will want all tables and figures added at the end of the document and only placement notes – e.g., ‘Insert Table 1 here’ and ‘Figure 3 about here’ – within the body of the paper. ‘Added at the end of the document’ can mean either before or after the reference list, and for some journals tables should precede figures, whereas for others it’s just the opposite. Sometimes guidelines will ask that tables be embedded in or tacked onto the end of the paper, but the figures submitted in separate files, with only the figure legends included in the paper, usually at the end. The point is to note and comply with whatever is required: it’s disappointing to discover that guidelines won’t let you use tables and figures quite as you’d hoped, but better that than writing the paper with the tables and figures you want only to have it rejected because of them or (in the best scenario) have to completely rewrite your paper with different, fewer or no tables at all. If a set number or style or size of tables and figures is absolutely central to your paper, then be sure to choose a journal that allows it.

However many or few tables and figures you use, be sure to label each one accurately and to refer to each of them in the body of your paper as you report and discuss your results. Virtually all journal guidelines specify this (and others expect it), and it’s also a simple courtesy to your reader that facilitates that reader’s understanding of your paper and your tables and figures in relation to it. Unnumbered or misnumbered figures and tables to which the reader is not accurately and precisely referred at an appropriate point in the text defeat their own purpose and negate some of the hard work that went into making them by leaving it to the reader to sort out the relationship between your text and your tables and figures. Tables and figures should also be referred to in numerical order, which means that they should be numbered according to the order in which they are mentioned in the text regardless of where they are actually placed in relation to the text. For clarity, they should also be referred to by number whenever mentioned, with the usual format being ‘Figure 1’ or ‘Table 2,’ unless, of course, the journal guidelines specify a different format (such as ‘Fig.1’), and whatever format used to refer to a table or figure should match that used in the heading or caption to label the table or figure itself. In the heading/caption for a table or figure, a full stop usually follows the number (Table 1. Demographic characteristics of study participants) unless there are instructions in the guidelines to the contrary (calling for a colon, for instance, after the number instead of a full stop). The title or heading of a table is generally placed above the table, whereas figure captions or legends often appear beneath figures, but guidelines (as well as style manuals) differ on this as well, so again, reading and following the guidelines of the specific journal is essential to success (see also Section 1.2 above).

Finally, if you are using in your figures any images for which the copyright belongs to someone other than yourself, you’ll need to acknowledge the source(s), usually in the relevant figure captions, and you’ll also need to obtain permissions to reproduce such images. Although all permissions need not be obtained until your paper is accepted for publication in a journal, it’s a good idea to indicate when you submit your paper which figures will require permissions and from which individuals and institutions those permissions will need to be requested, as well as noting any permissions that you’ve already obtained. Planning ahead when it comes to permissions can prevent delays and help speed up the publication process, but remember, too, that permissions to reproduce images from other publications can be costly and the expense is usually met by the author, so it’s a good idea to consider carefully whether reproducing images and other material that require permissions is really necessary and worth the cost.

PRS Tip : So much attention is paid to numerical data in tables and images in figures that the words appearing in tables and figures sometimes suffer neglect. If the words used in tables and figures do not effectively clarify and categorise the information presented, the reader’s understanding suffers as well. So when using words in a table or figure, it’s good to keep these basic practices in mind:

how to make research paper tables

This article is part of a book called Guide to Academic and Scientific Publication: How To Get Your Writing Published in Scholarly Journals . It provides practical advice on planning, preparing and submitting articles for publication in scholarly journals.

how to make research paper tables

Whether you are looking for information on designing an academic or scientific article, constructing a scholarly argument, targeting the right journal, following journal guidelines with precision, providing accurate and complete references, writing correct and elegant scholarly English, communicating with journal editors or revising your paper in light of that communication, you will find guidance, tips and examples in this manual.

how to make research paper tables

This book is focusing on sound scholarly principles and practices as well as the expectations and requirements of academic and scientific journals, this guide is suitable for use in a wide variety of disciplines, including Economics, Engineering, the Humanities, Law, Management, Mathematics, Medicine and the Social, Physical and Biological Sciences .

how to make research paper tables

You might be interested in Services offered by Proof-Reading-Service.com

Journal editing.

Journal article editing services

PhD thesis editing services

Scientific Editing

Manuscript editing.

Manuscript editing services

Expert Editing

Expert editing for all papers

Research Editing

Research paper editing services

Professional book editing services




Graphic Design


Please enter the email address you used for your account. Your sign in information will be sent to your email address after it has been verified.

Your Guide to Creating Effective Tables and Figures in Research Papers


Research papers are full of data and other information that needs to be effectively illustrated and organized. Without a clear presentation of a study's data, the information will not reach the intended audience and could easily be misunderstood. Clarity of thought and purpose is essential for any kind of research. Using tables and figures to present findings and other data in a research paper can be effective ways to communicate that information to the chosen audience.

When manuscripts are screened, tables and figures can give reviewers and publication editors a quick overview of the findings and key information. After the research paper is published or accepted as a final dissertation, tables and figures will offer the same opportunity for other interested readers. While some readers may not read the entire paper, the tables and figures have the chance to still get the most important parts of your research across to those readers.

However, tables and figures are only valuable within a research paper if they are succinct and informative. Just about any audience—from scientists to the general public—should be able to identify key pieces of information in well-placed and well-organized tables. Figures can help to illustrate ideas and data visually. It is important to remember that tables and figures should not simply be repetitions of data presented in the text. They are not a vehicle for superfluous or repetitious information. Stay focused, stay organized, and you will be able to use tables and figures effectively in your research papers. The following key rules for using tables and figures in research papers will help you do just that.

Check style guides and journal requirements

The first step in deciding how you want to use tables and figures in your research paper is to review the requirements outlined by your chosen style guide or the submission requirements for the journal or publication you will be submitting to. For example, JMIR Publications states that for readability purposes, we encourage authors to include no more than 5 tables and no more than 8 figures per article. They continue to outline that tables should not go beyond the 1-inch margin of a portrait-orientation 8.5"x11" page using 12pt font or they may not be able to be included in your main manuscript because of our PDF sizing.

Consider the reviewers that will be examining your research paper for consistency, clarity, and applicability to a specific publication. If your chosen publication usually has shorter articles with supplemental information provided elsewhere, then you will want to keep the number of tables and figures to a minimum.

According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL), the American Psychological Association (APA) states that Data in a table that would require only two or fewer columns and rows should be presented in the text. More complex data is better presented in tabular format. You can avoid unnecessary tables by reviewing the data and deciding if it is simple enough to be included in the text. There is a balance, and the APA guideline above gives a good standard cutoff point for text versus table. Finally, when deciding if you should include a table or a figure, ask yourself is it necessary. Are you including it because you think you should or because you think it will look more professional, or are you including it because it is necessary to articulate the data? Only include tables or figures if they are necessary to articulate the data.

Table formatting

Creating tables is not as difficult as it once was. Most word processing programs have functions that allow you to simply select how many rows and columns you want, and then it builds the structure for you. Whether you create a table in LaTeX , Microsoft Word , Microsoft Excel , or Google Sheets , there are some key features that you will want to include. Tables generally include a legend, title, column titles, and the body of the table.

When deciding what the title of the table should be, think about how you would describe the table's contents in one sentence. There isn't a set length for table titles, and it varies depending on the discipline of the research, but it does need to be specific and clear what the table is presenting. Think of this as a concise topic sentence of the table.

Column titles should be designed in such a way that they simplify the contents of the table. Readers will generally skim the column titles first before getting into the data to prepare their minds for what they are about to see. While the text introducing the table will give a brief overview of what data is being presented, the column titles break that information down into easier-to-understand parts. The Purdue OWL gives a good example of what a table format could look like:

Table Formatting

When deciding what your column titles should be, consider the width of the column itself when the data is entered. The heading should be as close to the length of the data as possible. This can be accomplished using standard abbreviations. When using symbols for the data, such as the percentage "%" symbol, place the symbol in the heading, and then you will not use the symbol in each entry, because it is already indicated in the column title.

For the body of the table, consistency is key. Use the same number of decimal places for numbers, keep the alignment the same throughout the table data, and maintain the same unit of measurement throughout each column. When information is changed within the same column, the reader can become confused, and your data may be considered inaccurate.

Figures in research papers

Figures can be of many different graphical types, including bar graphs, scatterplots, maps, photos, and more. Compared to tables, figures have a lot more variation and personalization. Depending on the discipline, figures take different forms. Sometimes a photograph is the best choice if you're illustrating spatial relationships or data hiding techniques in images. Sometimes a map is best to illustrate locations that have specific characteristics in an economic study. Carefully consider your reader's perspective and what detail you want them to see.

As with tables, your figures should be numbered sequentially and follow the same guidelines for titles and labels. Depending on your chosen style guide, keep the figure or figure placeholder as close to the text introducing it as possible. Similar to the figure title, any captions should be succinct and clear, and they should be placed directly under the figure.

Using the wrong kind of figure is a common mistake that can affect a reader's experience with your research paper. Carefully consider what type of figure will best describe your point. For example, if you are describing levels of decomposition of different kinds of paper at a certain point in time, then a scatter plot would not be the appropriate depiction of that data; a bar graph would allow you to accurately show decomposition levels of each kind of paper at time "t." The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a good example of a bar graph offering easy-to-understand information:

Bar Graph Formatting

If you have taken a figure from another source, such as from a presentation available online, then you will need to make sure to always cite the source. If you've modified the figure in any way, then you will need to say that you adapted the figure from that source. Plagiarism can still happen with figures – and even tables – so be sure to include a citation if needed.

Using the tips above, you can take your research data and give your reader or reviewer a clear perspective on your findings. As The Writing Center recommends, Consider the best way to communicate information to your audience, especially if you plan to use data in the form of numbers, words, or images that will help you construct and support your argument. If you can summarize the data in a couple of sentences, then don't try and expand that information into an unnecessary table or figure. Trying to use a table or figure in such cases only lengthens the paper and can make the tables and figures meaningless instead of informative.

Carefully choose your table and figure style so that they will serve as quick and clear references for your reader to see patterns, relationships, and trends you have discovered in your research. For additional assistance with formatting and requirements, be sure to review your publication or style guide's instructions to ensure success in the review and submission process.

Related Posts

How To Cite a Tweet

How To Cite a Tweet

Outlining and Writing an Analytical Essay

Outlining and Writing an Analytical Essay

Need an academic editor before submitting your work?

Need an academic editor before submitting your work?

How to Make APA Format Tables and Figures Using Microsoft Word Research Paper

In APA style, figures are all kinds of visual displays except tables. They traditionally include charts, line and bar graphs, maps, drawings, plots, infographics, photographs, and other illustrations (“Figure setup,” 2019). The basic components of an APA-style figure are its number, title, image, legend, and note (“Figure setup,” 2019). In general, the purpose of figures and tables is to present sufficient information in an understandable way. Regardless of the fact that figures do not exist without the text, readers should clearly understand them even without reading the text. In APA-style works, figures are traditionally created with the help of word-processing programs’ built-in graphics features (Excel or Microsoft Word) or dedicated programs (Inkscape or Photoshop). Both for figures and tables, there are two basic options for their placement – they may be mentioned and subsequently embedded in the text or placed after references on a separate page. The creation and placement of tables in APA-style papers have rules similar to figures. In general, they are used when large amounts of data are presented in the text making it difficult to understand – thus, a few numbers do not require tabular form. As previously mentioned, tables should be understandable without reading the whole. All tables are identified by numbers and have titles that reflect their content. Tables may be placed inside the text or after the reference list. In the case of research dedicated to the evaluation of the STEADI algorithm’s implementation for the prevention of falls among senior patients, tables may be used to present the study’s results in a clear and comprehensive format. The table will include various age categories and the number of falls before and after the implementation of the algorithm to trace the difference. Thus, the table may be the following: Table 1. Comparison of the numbers of falls before and after the implementation of the STEADI algorithm for different age categories

We will write a custom Research Paper on How to Make APA Format Tables and Figures Using Microsoft Word specifically for you for only $11.00 $9.35/page

807 certified writers online

Figure setup . (2019).

Need a custom Research Paper sample written from scratch by professional specifically for you?

IvyPanda. (2023, February 26). How to Make APA Format Tables and Figures Using Microsoft Word. https://ivypanda.com/essays/how-to-make-apa-format-tables-and-figures-using-microsoft-word/

IvyPanda. (2023, February 26). How to Make APA Format Tables and Figures Using Microsoft Word. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/how-to-make-apa-format-tables-and-figures-using-microsoft-word/

"How to Make APA Format Tables and Figures Using Microsoft Word." IvyPanda , 26 Feb. 2023, ivypanda.com/essays/how-to-make-apa-format-tables-and-figures-using-microsoft-word/.

1. IvyPanda . "How to Make APA Format Tables and Figures Using Microsoft Word." February 26, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/how-to-make-apa-format-tables-and-figures-using-microsoft-word/.


IvyPanda . "How to Make APA Format Tables and Figures Using Microsoft Word." February 26, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/how-to-make-apa-format-tables-and-figures-using-microsoft-word/.

IvyPanda . 2023. "How to Make APA Format Tables and Figures Using Microsoft Word." February 26, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/how-to-make-apa-format-tables-and-figures-using-microsoft-word/.

IvyPanda . (2023) 'How to Make APA Format Tables and Figures Using Microsoft Word'. 26 February.

How to make a scientific table | Step-by-step and Formatting

It’s time to learn how to make a scientific table to increase the readability and attractiveness of your research paper.

' src=

When writing a research paper, there is frequently a massive quantity of data that must be incorporated to meet the research’s purpose. Instead of stuffing your research paper with all this information, you can employ visual assets to make it simpler to read and use to your advantage to make it more appealing to readers.

In this Mind The Graph article, you will learn how to make a scientific table properly, to attract readers and improve understandability.

What is a scientific table and what are its purposes?

Tables are typically used to organize data that is too extensive or nuanced to properly convey in the text, allowing the reader to quickly see and comprehend the findings. Tables can be used to summarize information, explain variables, or organize and present surveys. They can be used to highlight trends or patterns in data and to make research more readable by separating numerical data from text. Tables, although full, should not be overly convoluted.

Tables can only display numerical values and text in columns and rows. Any other type of illustration, such as a chart, graph, photograph, drawing, and so on is called a figure.

If you’re not sure whether to use tables or figures in your research, see How to Include Figures in a Research Paper to find out.

Table formatting

This section teaches you all you need to know on how to make a scientific table to include in your research paper. The proper table format is extremely basic and straightforward to accomplish, here’s a simple guideline to help you:

Steps to make an effective scientific table

Now that you understand the fundamentals of how to make a scientific table , consider the following ideas and best practices for creating the most effective tables for your research work:

Make scientifically accurate infographics in minutes

Aside from adding tables to make your research paper more precise and appealing, consider using infographics, Mind the Graph is a simple tool for creating excellent scientific infographics that may help you solidify and improve the authority of your research.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Exclusive high quality content about effective visual communication in science.

- Exclusive Guide

- design tips, - scientific news and trends, - tutorials and templates.


340 USD in benefits for orly 99 USD

About Jessica Abbadia

Jessica Abbadia is a lawyer that has been working in Digital Marketing since 2020, improving organic performance for apps and websites in various regions through ASO and SEO. Currently developing scientific and intellectual knowledge for the community's benefit. Jessica is an animal rights activist who enjoys reading and drinking strong coffee.

Content tags

American Psychological Association

Table Setup

Tables are visual displays composed of columns and rows in which numbers, text, or a combination of numbers and text are presented. There are many common kinds of tables, including demographic characteristics tables, correlation tables, factor analysis tables, analysis of variance tables, and regression tables.

This page addresses the basics of table setup, including table components, principles of table construction (including the use of borders and how to handle long or wide tables), and placement of tables in the paper. Note that tables and figures have the same overall setup.

View the sample tables to see these guidelines in action.

Table components

APA Style tables have the following basic components:

This diagram is an illustration of the basic table components.

Diagram of the components of a prototypical table (here, a frequency table), including the table number, title, body, and notes.

This guidance is the  same  as in the 6th edition.

Related handout

Principles of table construction

The most important principle to follow when creating a table is to present information in a way that is easy for readers to understand. Provide sufficient information in the table itself so that readers do not need to read the text to understand it.

When creating a table, place entries that are to be compared next to each other. In general, place different indices (e.g., means and standard deviations) in different columns rather than in the same column. Use the same font in tables as in the rest of your paper.

Use the tables feature of your word-processing program to create tables in APA Style papers. Do not use the tab key or space bar to manually create the look of a table.

Table borders

Limit the use of borders or lines in a table to those needed for clarity. In general, use a border at the top and bottom of the table, beneath column headings (including decked heads), and above column spanners. You may also use a border to separate a row containing totals or other summary information from other rows in the table.

Do not use vertical borders to separate data, and do not use borders around every cell in a table. Use spacing between columns and rows and strict alignment to clarify relations among the elements in a table.

Long or wide tables

If a table is longer than one page, use the tables feature of your word-processing program to make the headings row repeat on the second and any subsequent pages. No other adjustments are necessary. If a table is too wide to fit on one page, use landscape orientation on the page with the wide table. It does not matter if the page header also moves when switching to landscape orientation.

Placement of tables in a paper

There are two options for the placement of tables (and figures) in a paper. The first is to embed tables in the text after each is first mentioned (or “called out”); the second is to place each table on a separate page after the reference list.

An embedded table may take up an entire page; if the table is short, however, text may appear on the same page as the table. In that case, place the table at either the top or bottom of the page rather than in the middle. Also add one blank double-spaced line between the table and any text to improve the visual presentation.

View the sample tables for more information on tables.

Search form

how to make research paper tables

How to Format a Table

In any research paper, it is important to be succinct, and help the reader to find the information that they need quickly, and without wading through reams of superfluous information.

This article is a part of the guide:

Browse Full Outline

One of the best ways to do this is by including relevant data in a table, presenting your findings in an easily digested format.

For any scientist, knowing how to format a table is an essential skill for writing any research paper . Most word processing programs allow you to create tables easily, and you can import or cut and paste tables from spreadsheet applications very easily.

how to make research paper tables

When to Include a Table

For a data heavy paper, including at least one table is essential, and presents the data clearly and succinctly.

A table should be direct and to the point, without including all of the raw data that belongs in the appendix . It should replace a lot of text and explanation, making the results and discussion part of the paper shorter and more clear, although it must be referred to in the text, rather than left to stand alone.

how to make research paper tables

How Much Information Should a Table Contain?

The simple answer to this is a much as is needs and not more than is necessary!

Practically speaking, this means that a table need not contain all of the raw data from your research or complicated statistical breakdowns. It should include enough, however, that a reader can see any trends apparent in the data, especially those highlighted in the text.

Once you have decided upon the information to include, you can begin to format the table.

In a research paper, a table should span the entire page, although many journals prefer smaller tables sets as floating blocks to the left or the right of the text.

Longer tables can carry on for more than one page, especially in the appendix section of the paper, but you should always repeat the headings at the top of each page, so that the reader does not have to keep flicking backwards and forwards.

If a table is too wide to fit across a page without cramping the text too much, it is perfectly fine to use a landscape format, where the table is presented on its side.

Conversely, if a long table only has 2 or 3 columns, you can double it up on the same page, as long as you use a clear dividing line between the two sections.

Format a Table - The Fine Details

There is always the temptation to use some of the many automatic formats included in word processors, with partial shading and highlighting.

In a research paper, you should keep the format simple, with plain black borders. Anything else just overcomplicates things - it is the information in your table that is important, not how it looks.

Finally, tables should be numbered consecutively, as Table 1, Table 2. They are kept apart from diagrams, graphs and photos, which are all referred to as Figures.

The only other distinction is that you should number tables in the appendix separately, as Table A1, Table A2, to prevent confusion.

Martyn Shuttleworth (Nov 23, 2009). How to Format a Table. Retrieved Mar 01, 2023 from Explorable.com: https://explorable.com/how-to-format-a-table

You Are Allowed To Copy The Text

The text in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons-License Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) .

This means you're free to copy, share and adapt any parts (or all) of the text in the article, as long as you give appropriate credit and provide a link/reference to this page.

That is it. You don't need our permission to copy the article; just include a link/reference back to this page. You can use it freely (with some kind of link), and we're also okay with people reprinting in publications like books, blogs, newsletters, course-material, papers, wikipedia and presentations (with clear attribution).

Want to stay up to date? Follow us!

Check out the official book.

Learn how to construct, style and format an Academic paper and take your skills to the next level.

how to make research paper tables

(also available as ebook )

Save this course for later

Don't have time for it all now? No problem, save it as a course and come back to it later.

Footer bottom

how to make research paper tables


Literature Review Basics

Profile Photo

About the Research and Synthesis Tables

Research Tables and Synthesis Tables are useful tools for organizing and analyzing your research as you assemble your literature review. They represent two different parts of the review process: assembling relevant information and synthesizing it. Use a Research table to compile the main info you need about the items you find in your research -- it's a great thing to have on hand as you take notes on what you read! Then, once you've assembled your research, use the Synthesis table to start charting the similarities/differences and major themes among your collected items.

We've included an Excel file with templates for you to use below; the examples pictured on this page are snapshots from that file.

Using the Research Table

Image of Model Research Excel Table

This is an example of a  research table,  in which you provide a basic description of the most important features of the studies, articles, and other items you discover in your research. The table identifies each item according to its author/date of publication, its purpose or thesis, what type of work it is (systematic review, clinical trial, etc.), the level of evidence it represents (which tells you a lot about its impact on the field of study), and its major findings. Your job, when you assemble this information, is to develop a snapshot of what the research shows about the topic of your research question and assess its value (both for the purpose of your work and for general knowledge in the field).

Think of your work on the research table as the foundational step for your analysis of the literature, in which you assemble the information you'll be analyzing and lay the groundwork for thinking about what it means and how it can be used.

Using the Synthesis Table

Image of Model Synthesis Excel Table

This is an example of a  synthesis table  or  synthesis matrix , in which you organize and analyze your research by listing each source and indicating whether a given finding or result occurred in a particular study or article ( each row lists an individual source, and each finding has its own column, in which X = yes, blank = no). You can also add or alter the columns to look for shared study populations, sort by level of evidence or source type, etc. The key here is to use the table to provide a simple representation of what the research has found (or not found, as the case may be). Think of a synthesis table as a tool for making comparisons, identifying trends, and locating gaps in the literature.

How do I know which findings to use, or how many to include?  Your research question tells you which findings are of interest in your research, so work from your research question to decide what needs to go in each Finding header, and how many findings are necessary. The number is up to you; again, you can alter this table by adding or deleting columns to match what you're actually looking for in your analysis. You should also, of course, be guided by what's actually present in the material your research turns up!

Log in using your username and password

You are here

Download PDF


Statistics from Altmetric.com

Request permissions.

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


Literature reviews offer a critical synthesis of empirical and theoretical literature to assess the strength of evidence, develop guidelines for practice and policymaking, and identify areas for future research. 1 It is often essential and usually the first task in any research endeavour, particularly in masters or doctoral level education. For effective data extraction and rigorous synthesis in reviews, the use of literature summary tables is of utmost importance. A literature summary table provides a synopsis of an included article. It succinctly presents its purpose, methods, findings and other relevant information pertinent to the review. The aim of developing these literature summary tables is to provide the reader with the information at one glance. Since there are multiple types of reviews (eg, systematic, integrative, scoping, critical and mixed methods) with distinct purposes and techniques, 2 there could be various approaches for developing literature summary tables making it a complex task specialty for the novice researchers or reviewers. Here, we offer five tips for authors of the review articles, relevant to all types of reviews, for creating useful and relevant literature summary tables. We also provide examples from our published reviews to illustrate how useful literature summary tables can be developed and what sort of information should be provided.

Tip 1: provide detailed information about frameworks and methods

Tabular literature summaries from a scoping review. Source: Rasheed et al . 3

The provision of information about conceptual and theoretical frameworks and methods is useful for several reasons. First, in quantitative (reviews synthesising the results of quantitative studies) and mixed reviews (reviews synthesising the results of both qualitative and quantitative studies to address a mixed review question), it allows the readers to assess the congruence of the core findings and methods with the adapted framework and tested assumptions. In qualitative reviews (reviews synthesising results of qualitative studies), this information is beneficial for readers to recognise the underlying philosophical and paradigmatic stance of the authors of the included articles. For example, imagine the authors of an article, included in a review, used phenomenological inquiry for their research. In that case, the review authors and the readers of the review need to know what kind of (transcendental or hermeneutic) philosophical stance guided the inquiry. Review authors should, therefore, include the philosophical stance in their literature summary for the particular article. Second, information about frameworks and methods enables review authors and readers to judge the quality of the research, which allows for discerning the strengths and limitations of the article. For example, if authors of an included article intended to develop a new scale and test its psychometric properties. To achieve this aim, they used a convenience sample of 150 participants and performed exploratory (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) on the same sample. Such an approach would indicate a flawed methodology because EFA and CFA should not be conducted on the same sample. The review authors must include this information in their summary table. Omitting this information from a summary could lead to the inclusion of a flawed article in the review, thereby jeopardising the review’s rigour.

Tip 2: include strengths and limitations for each article

Critical appraisal of individual articles included in a review is crucial for increasing the rigour of the review. Despite using various templates for critical appraisal, authors often do not provide detailed information about each reviewed article’s strengths and limitations. Merely noting the quality score based on standardised critical appraisal templates is not adequate because the readers should be able to identify the reasons for assigning a weak or moderate rating. Many recent critical appraisal checklists (eg, Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool) discourage review authors from assigning a quality score and recommend noting the main strengths and limitations of included studies. It is also vital that methodological and conceptual limitations and strengths of the articles included in the review are provided because not all review articles include empirical research papers. Rather some review synthesises the theoretical aspects of articles. Providing information about conceptual limitations is also important for readers to judge the quality of foundations of the research. For example, if you included a mixed-methods study in the review, reporting the methodological and conceptual limitations about ‘integration’ is critical for evaluating the study’s strength. Suppose the authors only collected qualitative and quantitative data and did not state the intent and timing of integration. In that case, the strength of the study is weak. Integration only occurred at the levels of data collection. However, integration may not have occurred at the analysis, interpretation and reporting levels.

Tip 3: write conceptual contribution of each reviewed article

While reading and evaluating review papers, we have observed that many review authors only provide core results of the article included in a review and do not explain the conceptual contribution offered by the included article. We refer to conceptual contribution as a description of how the article’s key results contribute towards the development of potential codes, themes or subthemes, or emerging patterns that are reported as the review findings. For example, the authors of a review article noted that one of the research articles included in their review demonstrated the usefulness of case studies and reflective logs as strategies for fostering compassion in nursing students. The conceptual contribution of this research article could be that experiential learning is one way to teach compassion to nursing students, as supported by case studies and reflective logs. This conceptual contribution of the article should be mentioned in the literature summary table. Delineating each reviewed article’s conceptual contribution is particularly beneficial in qualitative reviews, mixed-methods reviews, and critical reviews that often focus on developing models and describing or explaining various phenomena. Figure 2 offers an example of a literature summary table. 4

Tabular literature summaries from a critical review. Source: Younas and Maddigan. 4

Tip 4: compose potential themes from each article during summary writing

While developing literature summary tables, many authors use themes or subthemes reported in the given articles as the key results of their own review. Such an approach prevents the review authors from understanding the article’s conceptual contribution, developing rigorous synthesis and drawing reasonable interpretations of results from an individual article. Ultimately, it affects the generation of novel review findings. For example, one of the articles about women’s healthcare-seeking behaviours in developing countries reported a theme ‘social-cultural determinants of health as precursors of delays’. Instead of using this theme as one of the review findings, the reviewers should read and interpret beyond the given description in an article, compare and contrast themes, findings from one article with findings and themes from another article to find similarities and differences and to understand and explain bigger picture for their readers. Therefore, while developing literature summary tables, think twice before using the predeveloped themes. Including your themes in the summary tables (see figure 1 ) demonstrates to the readers that a robust method of data extraction and synthesis has been followed.

Tip 5: create your personalised template for literature summaries

Often templates are available for data extraction and development of literature summary tables. The available templates may be in the form of a table, chart or a structured framework that extracts some essential information about every article. The commonly used information may include authors, purpose, methods, key results and quality scores. While extracting all relevant information is important, such templates should be tailored to meet the needs of the individuals’ review. For example, for a review about the effectiveness of healthcare interventions, a literature summary table must include information about the intervention, its type, content timing, duration, setting, effectiveness, negative consequences, and receivers and implementers’ experiences of its usage. Similarly, literature summary tables for articles included in a meta-synthesis must include information about the participants’ characteristics, research context and conceptual contribution of each reviewed article so as to help the reader make an informed decision about the usefulness or lack of usefulness of the individual article in the review and the whole review.

In conclusion, narrative or systematic reviews are almost always conducted as a part of any educational project (thesis or dissertation) or academic or clinical research. Literature reviews are the foundation of research on a given topic. Robust and high-quality reviews play an instrumental role in guiding research, practice and policymaking. However, the quality of reviews is also contingent on rigorous data extraction and synthesis, which require developing literature summaries. We have outlined five tips that could enhance the quality of the data extraction and synthesis process by developing useful literature summaries.

Twitter @Ahtisham04, @parveenazamali

Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Competing interests None declared.

Patient consent for publication Not required.

Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Read the full text or download the PDF:

In Your Community  

In Your Community

View resources and events in your local community.

Change your location:

Susan G. Komen®

Susan G. Komen®

One moment can change everything.

How to Read a Research Table

The tables in this section present the research findings that drive many recommendations and standards of practice related to breast cancer.

Research tables are useful for presenting data. They show a lot of information in a simple format, but they can be hard to understand if you don’t work with them every day.

Here, we describe some basic concepts that may help you read and understand research tables. The sample table below gives examples.

The numbered table items are described below. You will see many of these items in all of the tables.

Sample table – Alcohol and breast cancer risk

Selection criteria.

Studies vary in how well they help answer scientific questions. When reviewing the research on a topic, it’s important to recognize “good” studies. Good studies are well-designed.

Most scientific reviews set standards for the studies they include. These standards are called “selection criteria” and are listed for each table in this section. These selection criteria help make sure well-designed studies are included in the table.

Types of studies

The types of studies (for example, randomized controlled trial, prospective cohort, case-control) included in each table are listed in the selection criteria.

Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of research studies .

Selection criteria for most tables include the minimum number of cases of breast cancer or participants for the studies in the table.

Large studies have more statistical power than small studies. This means the results from large studies are less likely to be due to chance than results from small studies.

The power of large numbers

You can see the power of large numbers if you think about flipping a coin. Say you are trying to figure out whether a coin is fixed so that it lands on “heads” more than “tails.” A fair coin would land on heads half the time. So, you want to test whether the coin lands on heads more than half of the time.

If you flip the coin twice and get 2 heads, you don’t have a lot of evidence. It wouldn’t be surprising to flip a fair coin and get 2 heads in a row. With 2 coin flips, you can’t be sure whether you have a fair coin or not. Even 3 or 4 heads in a row wouldn’t be surprising for a fair coin.

If, however, you flipped the coin 20 times and got mostly heads, you would start to think the coin might be fixed.

With an increasing number of observations, you have more evidence on which to base your conclusions. So, you have more confidence in your conclusions. It’s a similar idea in research.

Example of study size in breast cancer research

Say you’re interested in finding out whether or not alcohol use increases the risk of breast cancer.

If there are only a few cases of breast cancer among the alcohol drinkers and the non-drinkers, you won’t have much confidence drawing conclusions.

If, however, there are hundreds of breast cancer cases, it’s easier to draw firm conclusions about a link between alcohol and breast cancer. With more evidence, you have more confidence in your findings.

The importance of study design and study quality

Study design (the type of research study) and study quality are also important. For example, a small, well-designed study may be better than a large, poorly-designed study. However, when all else is equal, a larger number of people in a study means the study is better able to answer research questions.

Learn about different types of research studies .

The studies

The first column (from the left) lists either the name of the study or the name of the first author of the published article.

Below each table, there’s a reference list so you can find the original published articles.

Sometimes, a table will report the results of only one analysis. This can occur for a few reasons. Either there’s only one study that meets the selection criteria or there’s a report that combines data from many studies into one large analysis.

Study population

The second column describes the people in each study.

In some tables, more details on the people in the study are included. 

Length of follow-up

Randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies follow people forward in time to see who will have the outcome of interest (such as breast cancer).

For these studies, one column shows the length of follow-up time. This is the number or months or years people in the study were followed.

Because case-control studies don’t follow people forward in time, there are no data on follow-up time for these studies.

Tables that focus on cumulative risk may also show the length of follow-up. These tables give the length of time, or age range, used to compute cumulative risk (for example, the cumulative risk of breast cancer up to age 70).

Learn more about cumulative risk . 


Other information

Some tables have columns with other information on the study population or the topic being studied. For example, the table Exercise and Breast Cancer Risk has a column with the comparisons of exercise used in the studies.

This extra information gives more details about the studies and shows how the studies are similar to (and different from) each other.

Studies on the same topic can differ in important ways. They may define “high” and “low” levels of a risk factor differently. Studies may look at outcomes among women of different ages or menopausal status.

These differences are important to keep in mind when you review the findings in a table. They may help explain differences in study findings. 

Understanding the numbers

All of the information in the tables is important, but the main purpose of the tables is to present the numbers that show the risk, survival or other measures for each topic. These numbers are shown in the remaining columns of the tables.

The headings of the columns tell you what the numbers represent. For example:

Relative risks

Most often, findings are reported as relative risks. A relative risk shows how much higher, how much lower or whether there’s no difference in risk for people with a certain risk factor compared to the risk in people without the factor.

A relative risk compares 2 absolute risks.

The absolute risk of those with the factor divided by the absolute risk of those without the factor gives the relative risk. 

The confidence interval around a relative risk helps show whether or not the relative risk is statistically significant (whether or not the finding is likely due to chance).

Learn more about confidence intervals .

Example of relative risk

Say a study shows women who don’t exercise (inactive women) have a 25 percent increase in breast cancer risk compared to women who do exercise (active women).

This statistic is a relative risk (the relative risk is 1.25). It means the inactive women were 25 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who exercised.

Learn more about relative risk .

Confidence intervals

A 95 percent confidence interval (95% CI) around a risk measure means there’s a 95 percent chance the “true” measure falls within the interval.

Because there’s random error in studies, and study populations are only samples of much larger populations, a single study doesn’t give the “one” correct answer. There’s always a range of likely answers. A single study gives a “best estimate” along with a 95 % CI of a likely range.

Most scientific studies report risk measures, such as relative risks, odds ratios and averages, with 95% CI.

Confidence intervals and statistical significance

For relative risks and odds ratios, a 95% CI that includes the number 1.0 means there’s no link between an exposure (such as a risk factor or a treatment) and an outcome (such as breast cancer or survival).

When this happens, the results are not statistically significant. This means any link between the exposure and outcome is likely due to chance.

If a 95% CI does not include 1.0, the results are statistically significant. This means there’s likely a true link between an exposure and an outcome.

Examples of confidence intervals

A few examples from the sample table above may help explain statistical significance.

The EPIC study found a relative risk of breast cancer of 1.07, with a 95% CI of 0.96 to 1.19. In the table, you will see 1.07 (0.96-1.19).

Women in the EPIC study who drank 1-2 drinks per day had a 7 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who did not drink alcohol. The 95% CI of 0.96 to 1.19 includes 1.0. This means these results are not statistically significant and the increased risk of breast cancer is likely due to chance.

The Million Women’s Study found a relative risk of breast cancer of 1.13 with a 95% CI of 1.10 to 1.16. This is shown as 1.13 (1.10-1.16) in the table.

Women in the Million Women’s Study who drank 1-2 drinks per day had a 13 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who did not drink alcohol. In this case, the 95% CI of 1.10 to 1.16 does not include 1.0. So, these results are statistically significant and suggest there’s likely a true link between alcohol and breast cancer.

For any topic, it’s important to look at the findings as a whole. In the sample table above, most studies show a statistically significant increase in risk among women who drink alcohol compared to women who don’t drink alcohol. Thus, the findings as a whole suggest alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer.

Summary relative risks

Summary relative risks from meta-analyses.

A meta-analysis takes relative risks reported in different studies and “averages” them to come up with a single, summary measure. Findings from a meta-analysis can give stronger conclusions than findings from a single study.

Summary relative risks from pooled analyses

A pooled analysis uses data from multiple studies to give a summary measure. It combines the data from each person in each of the studies into one large data set and analyses the data as if it were one big study. A pooled analysis is almost always better than a meta-analysis.

In a meta-analysis, researchers combine the results from different studies. In a pooled analysis, researchers combine the individual data from the different studies. This usually gives more statistical power than a meta-analyses. More statistical power means it’s more likely the results are not simply due to chance.

Cumulative risk

Sometimes, study findings are presented as a cumulative risk (risk up to a certain age). This risk is often shown as a percentage.

A cumulative risk may show the risk of breast cancer for a certain group of people up to a certain age. Say the cumulative risk up to age 70 for women with a risk factor is 20 percent. This means by age 70, 20 percent of the women (or 1 in 5) with the risk factor will get breast cancer.

Lifetime risk is a cumulative risk. It shows the risk of getting breast cancer during your lifetime (or up to a certain age). Women in the U.S. have a 13 percent lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. This means 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will get breast cancer during their lifetime.

Learn more about lifetime risk .

Sensitivity and specificity

Some tables show study findings on the sensitivity and specificity of screening tests. These measures describe the quality of a breast cancer screening test.

The goals of any screening test are:

A perfect test would correctly identify everyone with no mistakes. There would be no:

No screening test has perfect (100 percent) sensitivity and perfect (100 percent) specificity. There’s always a trade-off between the two. When a test gains sensitivity, it loses some specificity.

Learn more about sensitivity and specificity .

Finding studies

You may want more detail about a study than is given in the summary table. To help you find this information, the references for all the studies in a table are listed below the table.

Each reference includes the:

PubMed , the National Library of Medicine’s search engine, is a good source for finding summaries of science and medical journal articles (called abstracts).

For some abstracts, PubMed also has links to the full text articles. Most medical journals have websites and offer their articles either for free or for a fee.

If you live near a university with a medical school or public health school, you may be able to go to the school’s medical library to get a copy of an article. Local public libraries may not carry medical journals, but they may be able to find a copy of an article from another source.

More information on research studies

If you’re interested in learning more about health research, a basic epidemiology textbook may be a good place to start. The National Cancer Institute also has information on epidemiology studies and randomized controlled trials.

Updated 07/25/22


how to make research paper tables

In Your Own Words

How has having breast cancer changed your outlook?

Share Your Story or Read Others

how to make research paper tables

Skimming Articles for Research: A How-To

how to make research paper tables

By Alex Yang

6 minute read

So you’re working on your research paper and looking for articles to help support your argument. You want to find great supporting evidence, but you also don’t have unlimited time to read every single article out there. Skimming an article can be an effective way to quickly assess the relevance of an article to your research paper, and whether it’s worth reading through completely. Here are some tips on how to skim an article effectively:

Be sure to read the introduction and conclusion

The introduction and conclusion of an article can provide you with a general sense of the article's argument, its main points, and its relevance to your research. Intros and conclusions tend to also include themes from the body paragraphs, so you can immediately assess whether the article might include helpful information.

Make sure to read the abstract (if it’s an academic article)

You will likely come across academic writing/research papers in your research that can look very intimidating and dense. And if you’re anything like me you want to avoid reading for 30 minutes just to realize that the information is not useful for your own research. 

So how do you skim academic articles? A great way to do this is by reading the abstract for the writing. The authors will typically include an abstract that summarizes the main contents and findings of the paper. The abstract is meant to make sense on its own without any additional context, so that’s why it’s such a great way to figure out whether a source is helpful for your research.

Create a research project tailored to your interests and your schedule

Polygence pairs you with an expert mentor in your area of passion. Together, you work to create a high quality research project that is uniquely your own. We also offer options to explore multiple topics, or to showcase your final product!

how to make research paper tables

Skim the main text once you’ve read the abstract or introduction/conclusion

Let’s say you’ve followed one or both of the steps explained above. If what you find seems promising, start skimming the main text. Focus on the first and last sentences of each paragraph, and any bolded or italicized sentences. As you skim you should also pay attention to tables, charts, or graphics to get a quick sense of what’s going on in the article.

Use AI tools to your advantage

Recent advances in AI have made it exponentially easier to distill dense texts into key take away points. These AI tools include Bearly , Quillbot , Scholarcy , Genei , and of course, the (in)famous ChatGPT . If after skimming the intro, conclusion, abstract, or even the main text you’re still unsure about the article, let AI help you out. These tools will pull out the main points from the articles, giving you the necessary information. 

For example, if you have the PDF version of an article readily at hand, you can simply input it into ChatGPT and ask it to give you a summary. In the screenshot below, we asked ChatGPT to summarize this groundbreaking article in Education by Benjamin S. Bloom called The 2-Sigma Problem . See below for ChatGPT’s summary:

how to make research paper tables

While these tools may be very helpful, you shouldn’t rely entirely on AI tools for skimming articles. There have been reports of AI tools “hallucinating” and offering “facts” that are made up. In addition, even if all the key points that the AI has distilled may be factually accurate, there’s no guarantee that those particular arguments are the ones that are most relevant to your specific research project. There could be a small detail that the AI does not mention that is actually critical for the argument that you’re making, which is also why…

If the article is relevant, then read it through!

Remember, the whole point of skimming is to see whether the article could be helpful for writing your research paper. If you’ve skimmed using the strategies above and found that the article is indeed relevant, then take the time to read it through thoroughly. Doing this will allow you to better understand the article, and you can then begin to pull the quotes, statistics, and evidence you want from the article to support your thesis. This is where you start to really dive into the details.

A lot of students ask us: what’s the best way to read through (not just skim) an entire article?  Some readers prefer to have a highlighter in hand, others prefer to jot down notes on the side, while others prefer to keep the text pristine and to take notes on the side either on a laptop or in a notebook. There is no magic formula for the best way to take notes, and the most successful students and researchers will have tried a number of different methods before finding one that works best for them!  There are also a number of different note-taking apps that you might want to explore, including but not limited to:

Microsoft Onenote 


Beware of Confirmation Bias: Don’t avoid articles that don’t support your thesis

Once you think you’ve made a great thesis statement, it’s easy to go looking for evidence that supports it. This is what’s called confirmation bias - and you’d be reassured to learn that it’s a very natural human instinct. Skimming an article that goes against your thesis can feel deflating and anxiety-inducing. But even with the best arguments and theses, there will almost always be counterarguments and contradictory evidence. You may even catch glimpses of them in your research and immediately hit the back button on your browser in fear of having your precious thesis destroyed. But I encourage you to read those articles anyway. 

For one, ignoring these counter arguments will not make them disappear in thin air. The arguments will exist, whether they are in your research paper or not. Further, the inclusion of counterarguments in your research paper can boost the credibility of your overall research. It shows that you have considered opposing points of view and came to your argument after considering multiple perspectives. Readers might even get a little suspicious if you make no mention at all of obvious counter arguments in your research.

Finally, the counter arguments may not be as detrimental to your thesis as you may think. Perhaps you’ve found stronger and more convincing evidence in support of your thesis, which outweighs the counterarguments. Either way, embrace the extra effort and trust that engaging in counter arguments will make your research paper stronger.

Want to Learn More?

Join Polygence and do your own research project tailored towards your passions and guided by one of our expert mentors!

how to make research paper tables

Educational resources and simple solutions for your research journey

tables and figures in research papers

Tables and figures in research papers can strengthen your work

tables and figures in research papers

Choose between tables and figures in research papers  

If the numbers have a pattern—if your data are telling a story—it is better to use a graph so that readers can take in that pattern at a glance. However, then you cannot show the exact values of the variable you measured. Or you may want to show multiple variables: weather data, for instance, comprising temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, number of hours of sunshine, etc. You will need multiple figures for such data, whereas with tables in a scientific paper , all you need to do is to add a few more rows or columns. Then there is the question of scale: if the values of a variable vary greatly, it is difficult to choose the right scale for a graph. Imagine you have recorded the body mass of every animal in a plot measuring 1 km²; the animals may range from ants and spiders to wolves and even elephants. No simple scale can accommodate such a range, from milligrams to tonnes, whereas tables in a scientific paper pose no such problems.  

Refer explicitly to each table and figure in research paper text  

Make it a point not only to mention the tables and figures in research paper s that you write, but to also say something about each in the main text: instead of writing “the body mass of different animals is given in Table 2,” write “the body mass of different animals varied greatly (Table 2).” You are thus priming your readers before they turn to the relevant tables and figures in research papers .  

Incidentally, the word “figure” is used broadly, but irrespective of the kind of illustration (whether a map, a diagram, a photograph, or a flow chart, etc.)—number all these in one sequence, referring to them as Fig. 1, Fig. 2, and so on. Note also that some journals prefer the abbreviated form whereas other journals spell it out (Figure 1, Figure 2, and so on).  

You should also be careful with numbering while working on the post-peer review version of your manuscript. For example, the reviewers may have suggested that you add or remove some figure(s) or table(s): in that case, make sure the tables and figures in research paper s are renumbered accordingly.  

how to make research paper tables

Indicate sources where required  

The convention is that if no source is given for tables and figures in research papers , it is assumed that the author of the research paper is the source. Therefore, skip the source if the tables and figures in research paper s you are writing are based on your own data. However, if you have borrowed the data, always mention the source or sources, as applicable. If you have modified the original research paper’s figure or have added more columns or rows, acknowledge this by saying “adapted from” or “modified from.” Note that even if you re-use or adapt tables and figures in research papers you’ve previously published yourself, you will need to cite the source, the way you would cite your own paper in the main text if you were referring to it.  

Avoid blank cells in a table  

It is possible that for some cells within tables in your scientific paper , you lack the required data: the recording device did not run because of power outage, for example, or the variable in question simply does not exist (the length of the coastline for Switzerland, for example). In such cases, use  Not available  or  Not applicable , as the case may be (avoid NA, because it is ambiguous). If readers see blank cells in tables in scientific papers , they have no means of knowing whether the author simply forgot to fill in the values or the cells are blank because the relevant data were not available or not applicable.  

Align columns correctly  

A column of numbers in the tables in scientific papers can be aligned in different ways: right aligned, left aligned, aligned on the decimal point, centre aligned, and even justified. However, the choice is governed by clear conventions. To begin with, forget the last two options: never choose either “justified” or “centred” alignment.  

This narrows it down to three choices for tables in research and is governed by how the numbers within a column are related. If all the numbers share a common unit and all are whole numbers, align them to the right; if they share a common unit but are decimal numbers, line them up on the decimal point; if they do not share a common unit (one row refers to body mass, another refers to length, a third one tells you the frequency with which the animal is found in the sampling area, etc.), align them to the left to emphasize that they share no arithmetical relationship. When creating tables in scientific papers , it is wrong to line the numbers up as you would if you were going to give a total at the bottom (keeping tens below the tens, hundreds below the hundreds, and so on).  

Indicate scale in pictures of unfamiliar objects  

In photomicrographs, it is customary to include a short line or rule (a scale bar) that shows its length (in micrometres, nanometres, etc.) so that viewers looking at the research paper figure have an idea of the size of the object (a cell, a spore, the width of an opening, or whatever). However, imagine somebody who has never seen grapes looking at the picture of a bunch of grapes: how can the person tell the approximate size when there is nothing to compare it against? A simple solution in this case is to show the bunch nestling in someone’s palm: that way, one can judge the approximate size of the unknown object reasonably well.  

Proofread tables and figures in research papers carefully before submission  

Using tables and figures in research papers can add value to your work, but only if you present them well, keeping in mind some of the points mentioned in this article. Remember to always run a thorough proofread to identify any inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the tables and figures in research paper . And as a final check, run your paper through  My Research Projects , a full-suite manuscript assessment tool from Researcher.Life, which helps you make your manuscript ready for submission.  

My Research Projects assesses a manuscript by running multiple checks, including those for language quality, relevance of references, structural completeness, ethical declarations , and tables and figures in research paper s. It checks whether all the tables and figures in a research paper are cited in the main text, whether they are numbered sequentially, and whether all the tables and figures in research paper have accompanying captions. It also flags any discrepancies for the author to resolve.  

Click  here   to find out more about how My Research Projects and Researcher.Life can help check tables and figures in research papers among other key parameters to make your manuscript submission-ready.  

Related Posts

Top 16 digital tools that every researcher should know about

Top 16 digital tools that every researcher should know about

how to make research paper tables

What is the background of a study and how to write it (examples included)

Research Paper Graph: How to insert Graphs, Tables & Figures

Research Paper Graph: How to insert Graphs, Tables & Figures

Simple Ways Of Representing Your Data Using Graphs

Simple Ways Of Representing Your Data Using Graphs

Graphs are common items in the academic scenario. They serve a critical role in summarizing and displaying data in a way that is easier for the audience to comprehend.

There exist different graphs that researchers use to have varying impacts. These graphs offer an additional explanation of the topic of your research.

how to make research paper tables

If you cannot do this, you can get our essay writers to handle the task for you. However, read on if you would like to know how to do it.

In our guide on how to write a term paper , we gave you various steps to complete a good paper. This piece offers you more insights on how to insert a graph in a research paper.

How to Insert a Graph in a Research Paper

creating graph from data

Importance of Graphs and Tables in Research Writing

example of bar graph

1.Better Understanding

Some situations prompt us to compare the performance of two scenarios.

The traditional approach involves going through bulky data of both scenarios and later analyzing it which is time-consuming.

Graphs help the audience to understand your research work easily and more quickly than when represented in figures.

2. Accurate Analysis

You can only use graphs and tables to enable the audience to understand and analyze the trends easily.  They summarize a large amount of data in an easy and interpretable form. Moreover, they help one in studying and interpreting patterns.

3. Easy Sharing of Information

Tables and graphs have a greater role in making your research digestible at visualization. They are perfect avenues to make your research more engaging. At a glance, they will convey the message to the reader instantly.

4. Explores Findings

When you include the tables and graphs in your research work, you will get in-depth knowledge of the new findings. You can use them to understand patterns suppose you are handling business-related concepts.

5. Comparing and Contrasting

It is easier to highlight values with many shared variables and characteristics. As such, it becomes easier in studying patterns and consume the information with ease. They help the audience to understand the data in a comparative state.

6. To Prove a Point

It boosts your understanding when you make tabulated results alongside graphical representation. The reader will encounter an easy time in finding the conclusion without understanding the calculations.

Other Alternatives to Graphs in a Research Paper

A table is a useful tool when you want to show the reader how dependent and independent variables interact. Readers use tables to compare values between groups of related measurements. Tables allow the reader to explore data according to their interest.

using a table

One can create such tables by using the Excel program to represent the data wonderfully.

The table should have a title column title and table body. Furthermore, a table should have a descriptive title to act as the topic of your table.

Depending on the discipline, the title can be lengthy or short.

Besides, the table should have a column title to simplify it. The right set of column titles allows the reader to grasp the content.

Finally, the table body is the main area of the table where we put numerical or textual data. Construct the table to allow the elements to read from up to down.

Once you create the table in the excel sheet, copy-paste them on the center page of your research paper.  More importantly, ensure that you reference it well. Avoid text wrapping in this case. Set your table apart from the text.

2) Infographics

You can make your research finding more engaging by collecting your data and reporting it in infographics. Before you create an infographic, you should observe the following:

example of infographic drawing

 Begin with a good foundation to create effective graphics.

Some infographics rely on data or quantitative research to explain the information.

You can use the data alone when reporting the findings. The included text appears in labels and headings.

Organize the Information

Organize the information into an outline. You can achieve that through word processing depending on your content.

You should have a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning should have an introductory paragraph. The middle should have figures, facts, and content. The end should have a call to action.

Create a Structure

 It is time to create an outline to translate it into a professional-looking design. Alternatively, expand it into an existing outline or choose a new document.

Design the Infograghics

 Import the Excel sheets and populate your charts with data directly into the infographic maker. You can select the color palettes, fonts, and icons and move them around the page to your preference.

Refine your work with the right color elements and ensure that you have the correct color that is appealing to your audience.

Inserting the Infograghics

Create an outline that follows the structure of your research paper. As noted before, essays or papers can have charts and infographics , which is definitely in line with the outline.

In addition, fill the outline using your content, data, or information that you referenced in the research paper and present the layout that flows data logically.

Figures take varying forms such as frequency histograms, bar graphs, maps, and drawings. If you are using the figures in your research paper, it is always important to focus on the reader. Use the easiest figure that your reader will use to understand effortlessly.

You can use the figure to present your data more effectively and efficiently. For example, if you want your reader to understand spatial relationships more efficiently, use photographs. Typically, figures should have the following sections:

You can create a figure from the Excel sheet and format it appropriately. Label the vital parts well for better interpretation of the data. After that, you can copy-paste it into your research paper to present your finding in an analyzed form.

using a chart

A chart is a graph that features cycles cut into varying sectors. Every sector represents a relative size of value for a whole.

We create charts to represent the quantity proportionally. Furthermore, it can represent many classes of data in a single chart.

The main role of a chart is to place large sums of data in a visual format for better understanding.

In addition, they are more visually appealing than other graphs. Not to forget, a chart offers easy calculation of your data accuracy, making it demand little explanation.  As such, different readers can understand it without minimal struggle.

One can create a chart in Excel by doing the following steps:

After that, you can now copy-paste it in the research paper at an appropriate page for better interpretation by the readers.

Josh Jasen

When not handling complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

Related posts

Titles for Essay about Yourself

Titles for Essay about Yourself

Good Titles for Essays about yourself: 31 Personal Essay Topics

How to Write a Diagnostic Essay

How to Write a Diagnostic Essay

How to Write a Diagnostic Essay: Meaning and Topics Example

Essay Reading Practice

Essay Reading Practice

Essay Reading: Practice and Importance of Reading Essays

‘Just snap out of it’ – the experience of loneliness in women with perinatal depression: a Meta-synthesis of qualitative studies

BMC Psychiatry volume  23 , Article number:  110 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

Metrics details

Pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby is a time of great transition and upheaval. Women often experience social isolation and loneliness at this time and may develop depression, particularly in the postnatal period. Qualitative studies have reported that loneliness is also a feature of perinatal depression. However, until now there has been no attempt to synthesise research exploring the links between loneliness and perinatal depression. This study’s aim was to explore existing qualitative evidence to answer two research questions: What are the experiences of loneliness for women with perinatal depression? What helps and what makes loneliness worse for women with perinatal depression?

A qualitative meta-synthesis retrieved primary qualitative studies relevant to the research questions. Four electronic databases were systematically searched (Ovid MEDLINE®; PsycINFO; Embase; Web of Science). Papers were screened according to pre-defined inclusion criteria and assigned a quality score. Thematic analysis was used to identify major overarching themes in the literature.

Twenty-seven relevant qualitative studies were included. Themes relating to the interaction between perinatal depression and loneliness included self-isolation and hiding symptoms due to stigma of perinatal depression and fear of judgement as a ‘bad mother’; a sudden sense of emotional disconnection after birth; and a mismatch between expected and actual support provided by partner, family and community. There was also a double burden of loneliness for women from disadvantaged communities, due to increased stigma and decreased social support. Validation and understanding from healthcare professionals, peer support from other mothers with experience of perinatal depression, and practical and emotional family support were all important factors that could ameliorate loneliness.


Loneliness appears to play a central role in the experience of perinatal depression based on the frequency with which it emerged in women’s accounts. The findings provide a foundation for the development of further theories about the role of loneliness in perinatal depression and evidence in which future psychological and social intervention design processes can be rooted. Addressing stigma and offering culturally appropriate professional and peer support are potential targets for interventions that could help women with perinatal depression, particularly in disadvantaged communities, feel less lonely.

Trial registration

Prospero registration: https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php? RecordID = 251,936.

Peer Review reports

The transition to motherhood – including pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby – is a period of enormous change in a woman’s life, with significant transformations in their intimate relationships, social networks, careers, values and routines [ 1 , 2 ]. Despite common societal expectations that it should be the ‘happiest time of their life’, women are vulnerable to developing psychological distress and mental health problems during the perinatal period. In particular, depression affects approximately one in six pregnant women [ 3 ] and one in five women during the first 3 months after birth [ 4 ].

It is important to recognise and treat perinatal depression because it significantly affects women’s quality of life and relationships [ 5 ]. It increases their risk of self-harm or death by suicide [ 6 ]. It also impairs mother-infant interactions and can have long-term adverse effects on a child’s cognitive and emotional development [ 7 , 8 ]. Understanding factors, especially remediable ones, that place new mothers at increased risk of depression is therefore important. One such factor is the potential role of loneliness and lack of social support in contributing to and maintaining the onset of perinatal depression. Loneliness is defined as a negative emotional state that arises when there is a perceived discrepancy between desired and actual social relationships [ 9 ]. Loneliness has been conceptualised as having three key aspects: ‘emotional loneliness’ (the absence of close attachment with another significant person or persons); ‘social loneliness’ (the lack of integration into social networks) and ‘existential loneliness’ (stemming from the realisation that a human being is fundamentally alone) [ 10 , 11 ].

Women are vulnerable to loneliness during their transition to motherhood [ 12 , 13 ]. A recent poll in the UK found more than half of parents had experienced loneliness since becoming a parent and a fifth had felt lonely in the last week [ 14 ]. Another small UK poll found that 32% of mothers aged under 25 with a young child felt lonely always or often [ 15 ]. Similarly, a longitudinal study in Finland found that 38% of pregnant women felt lonely at least some of the time [ 16 ]. Recent cross-national online research emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic has found that 53.5% of perinatal women have experienced high levels of loneliness during the pandemic [ 17 ]. Qualitative evidence shows new mothers link their loneliness to a lack of social contact, a change in their sense of identity, a lack of empathy and support from peers and family and critical self-comparisons with perceived mothering norms [ 12 , 18 ].

Loneliness has been shown to have substantial effects on mental and physical health and the relationships tend to be bidirectional [ 19 ]. Most research exploring the interaction between loneliness and mental health has focused on depression. Cross-sectional studies show that people with depression are 10 times more likely to feel lonely than the general population [ 20 ]. Longitudinal studies have shown that loneliness increases the risk of depression [ 21 ] and worsens depressive symptoms in those already depressed [ 22 ]. The mechanisms behind this complex, reciprocal inter-relationship between loneliness and depression are unclear [ 23 ]. Theoretical models propose that loneliness has biological, social and cognitive consequences that can increase the risk of depression [ 24 ].

There is increasing evidence that loneliness is also a risk factor for depression in the perinatal period [ 25 , 26 ]. However, the unique circumstances associated with the transition to motherhood, and the increased risk of depression at this time, suggests that loneliness may have a unique interaction with perinatal depression. Small qualitative studies that have been conducted exploring the more general experience of social support for women with perinatal depression have found that loneliness is raised as an important experience, with women describing themselves as “enveloped in unbearable loneliness” [ 27 ], “detached and removed from those around them” [ 28 ] and, experiencing “a deep sense of loneliness” [ 29 ]. To our knowledge only one qualitative study has specifically focused on loneliness in perinatal depression and found women repeatedly described feeling lost, alone and isolated and linked these feelings to lack of supportive relationships, fears of judgement and dislocation from their previous lives and identities [ 18 ]. Many studies focus on the social experiences of more marginalised groups with perinatal depression (such as teenage, ethnic minority and immigrant mothers) and find that loneliness is complicated by the multiple disadvantages that these women face [ 29 , 30 , 31 ].

However, to date there has been no attempt to systematically search and synthesise these existing small-scale and disparate qualitative studies that explore both perinatal depression and loneliness. Using a qualitative meta-synthesis methodology, we aimed to provide an overview of the available international research, to gain a higher-order understanding of the data and to identify major overarching themes about the role loneliness plays in the day-to-day lives of women with perinatal depression. Intersectionality theory states that factors like gender can interact with other socioeconomic categories, such as class and race, to influence the exclusion and marginalisation of people in society [ 32 , 33 , 34 ]. Loneliness and perinatal depression may not be experienced equally by all women [ 35 ], thus an intersectional lens was used in this analysis to consider the experience of different cohorts of women in different sociocultural settings and contexts.

The resulting synthesised qualitative evidence also has the potential to enhance understanding of the support women with perinatal depression need to feel less lonely and inform the development of social and psychological interventions that specifically target loneliness with a potential dual aim of also reducing the risk of perinatal depression.

A meta-synthesis of qualitative studies was conducted exploring loneliness experiences among women with perinatal depression to answer the following two research questions: What are the experiences of loneliness for women with perinatal depression? What helps and what makes loneliness worse for women with perinatal depression?

The ENTREQ statement was used to guide the design, conduct and reporting of this qualitative meta-synthesis [ 36 ].

This qualitative meta-synthesis was conducted in keeping with the processes and 6 step approach defined by Lachal et al [ 37 , 38 ]. Qualitative meta-synthesis is a relatively new rigorous research technique – adapted from thematic synthesis methodology [ 39 ] - that involves systematically searching for qualitative literature using a systematic review protocol followed by the synthesis of results from included primary qualitative research studies to identify common themes. A meta-synthesis provides a useful summary of the wider literature, a broader understanding of a topic and generates a higher-order synthesis, potentially resulting in new overarching themes [ 37 , 40 , 41 , 42 ].

Database and search strategy

The pre-planned meta-synthesis protocol and search strategy was registered on Prospero ( https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php? RecordID = 251,936). The search was conducted using the following four electronic bibliographical databases, from inception to 26th July 2021: Ovid MEDLINE® (1946-present); PsycINFO (1806-present); Embase (1947 – present); and Web of Science (1900-present). Forward and backward citation tracking was performed on eligible articles.

Search terms captured the subjective experience of loneliness in women with perinatal depression using a qualitative approach. Search terms captured the 4 key concepts: (i) a perinatal population, (ii) mental health disorders, (iii) loneliness and (iv) qualitative research. Additional file 1 (see Supplementary Materials) describes the search strategy and search terms used in full, including both free text and MeSH terms used (Additional file 1: Table 1 ).

The search strategy was designed to be inclusive - using search terms that were related and conceptually similar to loneliness, such as social isolation, social network, social support and social connection [ 22 , 43 , 44 , 45 ]. These conceptually overlapping terms were included in this search to ensure comprehensive retrieval of relevant papers [ 9 , 46 ]. On direct analysis of the results sections, only primary data that appeared directly related to the experience of loneliness were extracted and included in the synthesis.

The initial search included search terms for all perinatal mental health disorders resulting in a large number of papers, therefore, when screening using inclusion and exclusion criteria, a pragmatic decision was made to only include papers concerned with perinatal depression, resulting in a more manageable number of papers and a more focused review. To increase the comprehensiveness of our search, studies were included if a majority of the women in the study (> 50%) met formal diagnostic criteria for depression, or received high risk scores on depression scales or self-reported a diagnosis of perinatal depression. To enhance the clinical relevance of the review, an extended definition of the perinatal period - up to 2 years postnatal - was used in keeping with recent changes in the UK extending National Health Service perinatal mental health provision up to 2 years after birth [ 47 ].

STARLITE principles were used to report on the overall literature search [ 37 ].

Selection: Inclusion and exclusion criteria:

Studies were screened in accordance with the inclusion and exclusion criteria listed in Table 1 .

Data screening

Titles and abstracts were screened, followed by full text screening by two independent reviewers (KA screening 100% and CV screening 10%). Results were discussed to check for agreement and disagreements were discussed for adjudication with the wider review team at regular meetings. There was a high level of agreement between both researchers performing screening, extraction and quality appraisal throughout the process.

Quality appraisal

The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) qualitative research checklist was used by two independent researchers to assign each paper a quality score (KA 100% and CV 10% of papers) (see Table 3 ) [ 48 , 49 ]. There was 93% agreement on the quality scores of the 10% of papers that both researchers scored and agreement was reached on all papers after a further discussion between both researchers. Articles were not excluded on the basis of low quality as the aim of the review was to produce a comprehensive synthesis based on all relevant data. Instead, the quality scores were considered when formulating the synthesis and deciding which data to prioritise, as suggested in methodological guidance [ 40 , 41 ].

Data extraction and analysis

The method of data analysis was a meta-synthesis using citations to evidence the thematic analysis and resulting framework.

Study characteristics (such as sample size, diagnosis, data collection and analysis methods) were recorded by two independent reviewers (KA 100% and CV 10% of papers) using a proforma, and are summarised in Table 2 , with 100% agreement. In terms of extraction of primary data, one researcher (KA) immersed herself in the data by carefully reading and re-reading all eligible papers. Any text found in the Results section of eligible papers relevant to the meta-synthesis aims (either direct quotes or analysis of primary data) was identified and highlighted using a qualitative data analysis software package, Nvivo 20 [ 50 ]. A second researcher (CV) independently reviewed a randomly selected 10% of eligible articles results sections to confirm agreement with the first researcher’s selection of relevant text.

The included data was coded by one researcher (KA) using NVivo 20, initially using line-by-line coding to search for concepts. Studies were coded in turn and subsequent studies were coded into pre-existing concepts, with new codes created when deemed necessary. An inductive data-led approach was then used to build up a framework of descriptive themes relating to the two core research questions with input from the wider research team. The descriptive themes were further compared and contrasted to create overarching analytical themes. The selected citations were then used to evidence the resulting thematic analysis and framework. A second researcher (CV) coded results data from 20% of included papers and this fed into the overarching discussion and selection of codes and themes.

Patient involvement

A Patient Advisory Group (PAG) of women with lived experience of perinatal mental illness was vital to the design and conduct of this study. One member of the PAG provided feedback on the protocol, including shaping the initial research questions. A 1.5 hour online meeting was attended by 6 members of the PAG to discuss findings of the initial coding. The women drew on their own experiences of loneliness in the perinatal period and provided feedback on the initial findings and identified further potential emerging themes. Their feedback was instrumental in shaping the themes and identifying gaps in the data, providing validity to the overall thematic synthesis. A person with lived experience is also a co-author of this research paper – they were a member of the PAG who then read and commented on each draft and the paper was revised in response to this. In particular, she emphasised the importance of distinguishing between antenatal and postnatal depression; the difficulty women may have in identifying what can help them during their illness; and the importance of the baby in women’s overall experience. Overall, this shared experience helped gain a richer understanding of the material [ 37 ].


Quality standards in qualitative research require that authors consider how their own views and opinions could influence decisions made in the design and conduct of a study and influence emerging findings and vice versa [ 75 ]. Regular meetings were held with the wider multidisciplinary review team to check adherence to criteria, discuss methodology and seek their perspectives of emerging data and themes. The multidisciplinary team included academics and clinicians with a variety of perspectives and knowledge about loneliness, motherhood and perinatal depression based on their clinical, research and life experiences. The wider team consists of academics with experience and interest in the mental health impacts of loneliness, with some members conducting research on perinatal mental disorders. Some members of the team are also clinicians with experience of working with women with perinatal depression. They also have different personal experiences of motherhood.

KA is a white British, female MSc student in Mental Health Sciences Research and is a psychiatry trainee with a special interest in perinatal mental health and has experience of becoming a new mother during the pandemic. SJ is a psychiatrist with clinical and research experience relevant to the study topic, EP is an anthropologist with research expertise in loneliness, BLT is clinical psychologists and RN is an academic with a psychology background; both are researchers with research expertise in loneliness and perinatal mental health, CAW is a psychiatry trainee with clinical and research interests in perinatal mental health, CV is an MSc student in Clinical Mental Health Sciences with a psychology background, SS is a person with lived experience of perinatal mental illness.

Description of included studies

Figure 1 presents a PRISMA flow chart demonstrating the selection process to retrieve the final included 27 papers from the initial 9592 records yielded by systematic searches. Quality scores based on the CASP quality assessment ranged from 4 to 10 out of 10, with a mean score of 7.4. The most common reason for lower quality scores was a lack of reflexivity in 63% of included papers. Brief characteristics and quality appraisal results of the included papers are summarized in Table 2 and Table 3 respectively. A further table (Additional file 2: Table 2 ) with comprehensive details of the included studies, including study aims, can be found in Additional file 2 (see Supplementary Materials).

figure 1

PRISMA Flow diagram for included studies (see additional pdf file)

The included papers were published between 1992 and 2021. All studies were conducted in high or upper-middle income countries, as defined by the World Bank [ 76 ]: UK ( n  = 10), USA ( n  = 6), Canada ( n  = 5), Australia ( n  = 3), Sweden (n = 1), Norway (n = 1) and China (n = 1). Eleven (41%) papers exclusively explored the experiences of women from different marginalised groups (including immigrant ( n  = 4), ethnic minority (n = 6) and teenage mothers (n = 1)). The majority of the studies involved women who had experienced depression after birth (postnatal, n  = 21; antenatal, n = 2; entire perinatal period, n = 4). Most studies included women with self-reported depression, although 9 papers did use the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to confirm their diagnosis using scores of equal to or greater than 10, 12 or 13. Only one paper had an explicit research aim to explore the experience of loneliness in perinatal depression [ 18 ]. The remainder of papers had a broader aim to explore the availability of social support for women with perinatal depression or to more generally explore the experience of perinatal depression. Study participants were typically recruited from primary healthcare or community settings, such as antenatal groups. The majority of studies ( n  = 26, 96%) involved data collection through individual face-to-face or telephone interviews – using either semi-structured or unstructured formats - and/or focus groups. One study exploring content on an online postpartum depression support website used individual online messages as the unit of analysis. A range of different methodological approaches for analysis were used, including grounded theory, phenomenological and ethnographic studies.

Together the studies represent the views of more than 537 women, with a mean age of 27.7 years (across the 12 studies in which age was reported) and ages ranging from 15 to 49 years. Study sample sizes ranged from 4 to 45 participants. They represented women from a limited range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and socio-demographic groups. Women with different marital and co-habitation statuses and both primiparous and multiparous women were included.

Thematic synthesis

Through the thematic synthesis, we identified eight overarching descriptive meta-themes and three sub-themes focused under three headings: ‘Experiences of perinatal depression and loneliness’; ‘What makes loneliness better for women with perinatal depression?’; and ‘What makes loneliness worse for women with perinatal depression?’. Fig. 2 is a pictorial representation of these themes.

figure 2

Map of meta-themes and sub-themes by research question (see additional pdf file)

Throughout the studies women described feelings of loneliness or feeling alone, providing data with a clear and obvious link to the research question. Many women also discussed feelings of disconnection, a lack of sense of belonging or a perceived lack of support - these experiences were only included in the analysis if there was a clear connection with the concept of loneliness.

Table 4 presents additional primary data to support each section of the thematic synthesis and Additional file 3 (see Supplementary Materials) presents a table (Additional file 3: Table 3 ) with further comprehensive supporting primary data. Primary quotes from women in the studies are depicted in quotations and italics and secondary interpretation from the included studies is presented in quotations.

Experiences of loneliness and perinatal depression

Meta-theme 1 – self-isolation, hiding depressive symptoms and loneliness due to societal stigma.

Sub-theme 1.1 - ‘Just snap out of it’ - societal stigma about perinatal depression & fear of judgement as a ‘bad mother’ makes women feel lonely

A key theme that emerged in the majority of studies was the deep and interwoven sense of shame that women felt about their depression and their fears of being judged as a ‘bad mother’ and ‘bad wife’ [ 18 , 52 , 53 , 64 , 65 ]. There was a sense that they were expected to be happy and relishing their role as a new mother. They strived to be the ‘perfect mum’ that society expected but the pain of their depression and resulting stigmatisation left them feeling like a failure and lonely (‘It was clear from women’s narratives that many experienced a sense of failure or inadequacy that could prevent them from connecting to others’ [ 18 ]).

Mothers experienced criticism, rejection or discrimination related to both their depression and new motherhood from many different sources: from partners, family, friends, healthcare professionals, colleagues and sometimes even themselves [ 27 , 57 , 60 , 61 , 63 , 72 ]. A few women described direct, explicit experienced stigma (‘the mothers were told to ‘ just snap out of it. You have a husband who loves you and a beautiful healthy baby. What more do you want!” [ 27 ]), whilst many more described less-explicit, self-perceived sources of criticism or even self-judgement.

‘ And my husband would always really try to tell me to be more cheerful, but it would always seem impossible and of course it added to more guilt on my part ’ [ 64 ].

Women seemed particularly affected by societal pressures around breastfeeding, which could be intensified by healthcare professionals [ 53 , 72 ], a theme that was emphasised by the Patient Advisory Group.

Stigma seemed to be particularly acutely felt amongst socially disadvantaged groups - such as immigrants, ethnic minorities or adolescent mothers – who felt a double burden of discrimination based on both their mental health and their minority status that complicated their pre-existing social isolation further [ 18 , 74 ] ( ‘LD: I hid it for months. SA: You feel that they might try and take your baby off you because you’re young .’ [ 52 ]; ‘ There is a huge stigma of being mentally ill in the public, but for us Asians there is a double disadvantage ’ [ 74 ]).

Sub-theme 1.2 – self-isolation and hiding depressive symptoms compounds loneliness

Women seemed to find the constant fear of negative judgement made it increasingly painful to be around other people – particularly family, friends and other mothers – and women reported the need to withdraw and self-isolate from others to protect themselves from these uncomfortable feelings. This self-enforced isolation led to deep feelings of loneliness and disconnection (‘ It’s just like you are an island on your own. I have got nobody to help me. ’ [ 28 , 55 , 69 ]).

As a result of this perceived stigma, women would also try to minimise or hide symptoms of depression from others, including healthcare professionals [ 53 , 60 ]. They would not seek help despite recognising their need for it – seemingly due to a perceived taboo about asking for help and a sense that they should be coping - and this could lead to delayed diagnoses and increased feelings of loneliness (‘... it took me about 9 months to finally seek help from the doctor’ [ 63 ]).

‘ what comes out of your mouth is, ‘ No, I don’t need any help ’ even though inside, you’re screaming, and saying, ‘Yes, for God’s sake, help me.” [ 60 ].

Hiding symptoms could also be due to an increased fear of social services involvement or even potential child removal due to their depression (‘ I just lied through my teeth because I thought, “What are they going to do if they find out I can’t be a good mom? ”’ [ 60 ]).

Meta-theme 2 – sense of emotional disconnection associated with perinatal depression fuels loneliness

The experience of depression at the same time as the arrival of a new baby made it difficult to sometimes untangle one single underlying cause of women’s loneliness. Even women with good support networks described an inability to emotionally connect with others – their peers, baby and themselves – which they couldn’t understand or explain (‘ Although I had a lot of support from a lot of people, which should have made me ecstatic, I couldn’t actually connect with it ’) [ 18 , 27 , 67 ].

Roseth et al. described: ‘After the birth, the mother experienced sudden and repetitive lapses into intense feelings of unreality and disconnection both in regard to self, the baby, and the social and material world’ [ 69 ].

Sub-theme 2.1 - ‘inauthentic relationships’ with other mothers and feeling misunderstood

Many women spoke about their difficulties in connecting with other mothers. They spoke of a desperate need to reach out and hear from women who were going through similar experiences, particularly those with perinatal depression. Yet they felt like ‘frauds’ during these interactions (‘It’s almost like being a . .. pretender. .. . I’m putting across what I think people want to see rather than what I am myself’ [ 61 ]). They were unable to share their true experiences due to the shame of feeling ‘different’ due to their depression, yet at the same time were internally comparing themselves with everything the other mothers were saying [ 61 ]. These interactions felt inauthentic and often served to undermine women’s confidence further and made them feel lonelier in their predicament [ 18 ].

Women also reported a sense that no one understood what they were experiencing or the reality of their experiences – this could be other mothers, their friends or their partners and families. There was a sense that they were the ‘only one’ going through this, which heightened their sense of loneliness (‘ That was the one thing that really got to me through it all, that I couldn’t find anyone who felt like I did, and I felt like I was going through it on my own’ [ 61 ]).

Often antenatal groups and mum and baby groups - where these constant comparisons were perceived as unavoidable - were the only social activities that were available to pregnant and new mothers. However, if women didn’t attend the groups to avoid these interactions, they would end up feeling even more socially isolated and alone, creating a vicious cycle [ 61 ]. This theme was particularly emphasised by the Patient Advisory group.

Sub theme 2.2 – disconnection from baby

Difficulty bonding and negative emotions towards their baby are both common symptoms of perinatal depression [ 77 ]. Feelings of disconnection from the baby were linked to feelings of shame and loneliness, particularly due to the high expectations of an immediate mother-infant bond (‘ I just expected to fall in love with him totally, straight away, which I didn’t … I hate myself for that’ [ 62 ]. Many women spoke about a sense of emotional aloneness that was almost exacerbated by having to be in the constant presence of their baby (‘[ My baby] used to have to sleep on my chest and, because I didn’t want him near me, it was really hard having him on my chest. So he used to just lay there and scream in pain and I used to just sit in another part of the room and just cry’  [ 18 ]). For some this seemed to be particularly pronounced at night times (‘“ It’s just. .. later on in the daytime when the doors close. .. it’s hard, like. .. at night time. .. where you all alone. ”’ [ 59 ]).

Sub theme 2.3 - ‘dislocation’ in sense of self

In many papers, women spoke about a loss of identity or a ‘dislocation in their sense of self’ [ 18 ]  resulting from both their transition to motherhood and their experience of depression. Many spoke about the loss of their work and old friendship networks (‘At work, some mothers felt they could not share their new experiences of parenthood with colleagues who were not parents themselves. Several mothers felt alienated from colleagues who disapproved of working mothers’ [ 61 ]) or their loss of skills and confidence, their lack of mastery in their new role as a mother or even their lack of body confidence (“ Before, I was so confident and outgoing and it was like, ‘Hey, where’s the party?’ And now, it’s just, you just feel lost, in a way’  [ 18 ]). Whilst this role transition is ubiquitous for all new mothers, the loss of sense of self seemed to be a recurrent narrative for women with perinatal depression and seemed to be linked to a sense of aloneness that they would never recover their old selves (“ My big fear was that I wasn’t going to get better and even if I got better that I wasn’t going to be the same person I was before the experience ” [ 27 ]; ‘She struggled to feel connected, integrated and capable at home with her baby, no longer having a routine or role in which she felt competent’ [ 18 ]).

Some women interpreted this loss of self in relation to the new focus on the baby (feeling like a ‘walking womb’ or a ‘baby carrier’ [ 67 ]) and feeling that their needs were no longer noticed [ 52 ]. Others related this loss of self to the inability to enjoy life in the way that they used to, partly because the relentlessness of motherhood left them no time for themselves [ 18 , 27 , 28 ] (“ I felt as if I was acting. I went through the motions of my life without any of the joy ” [ 27 ]).

Meta-theme 3- mismatch between expected and actual support associated with loneliness

Sub theme 3.1 – subjective lack of emotional and practical support from the wider family and community

In nearly all studies, women spoke about a mismatch between the support they expected and needed from their partner, family and community and the actual support they were offered, leading to feelings of loneliness [ 55 , 57 , 59 , 64 , 72 ] - ‘ I expected my mother-in-law to come and help with things around the house, but she refused. I was very upset …. ’ [ 72 ]. Women seemed to feel particularly lonely when caring for their child alone, such as when their partner went out to work, and felt their partner did not appreciate how difficult this was [ 56 , 57 , 60 , 63 ].

A subjective feeling of loneliness could exist even if objectively they could identify there was a lot of support available – in some cases mothers identified that the ‘right kind’ of support was not being offered (e.g. practical support instead of emotional support) and in other cases due to their depression they felt less able to ‘ connect ’ with the support being offered (as described in quote above).

Women distinguished between different types of support – both emotional and instrumental. A lack of emotional support seemed to be more often linked to the feeling of loneliness ( “ Company’ for her was about talking, listening and being emotionally available and not just being physically present in the room ’ [ 55 ]). Women felt they needed more support because of their struggles with postnatal depression [ 72 ], although many described not asking for support due to the fear of being ‘a bother’ [ 56 ]. Similar feelings of loneliness were described by women who were physically, culturally or geographically isolated and lacking the emotional support that they felt they needed – whether due to rural location, immigration or perceived lack of safety in their neighbourhood [ 55 , 57 , 59 , 71 ].

Sub theme 3.2 – lack of support and gender imbalance in partner relationship

Lack of support from a partner or co-parent was an important theme in the majority of papers. Women seemed to feel their depression particularly impacted on their ability to connect and feel close to their partners and vice versa. There was also a loss of important elements of their relationships with their partners, such as time for mutual interests or intimacy (‘” I just wanted him to leave me alone and not touch me ”.’ [ 27 ]) [ 53 ]. New parenthood could also amplify the gender imbalance in these partner relationships, particularly around caring responsibilities, which could leave mothers feeling lonely (‘Women spoke about feeling isolated and alone and overwhelmed with anxiety by being the sole caregiver for their infants while their partner was at work’ [ 60 ]). They would strive to keep the relationship going due to their feelings of vulnerability with a new baby and fear of being left alone, yet this lack of support often led to increased feelings of loneliness [ 18 , 68 ].

‘ I started feeling more depressed during my pregnancy because my significant other was like, “Oh, just have an abortion …” and I just didn’t feel his support’ [ 68 ].

What made loneliness better for women with perinatal depression?

Meta-theme 4 - validation from trusted healthcare professionals.

Women described the importance of their symptoms being recognised by health and social care professionals and being given a diagnosis (or ‘permission to be ill” [ 56 ]) that could validate their experiences. Many women felt that healthcare professionals were the only ones they could trust ( ‘I trust her (health care provider) and I’m completely comfortable with her’ [ 68 ]) and there was a sense that professionals had an important role in helping these women feel less emotionally lonely in their perinatal depression, sometimes even feeling ‘kind of like family’ [ 18 , 52 , 56 , 68 ].

Women emphasised the importance of one-to-one support, continuity of care or access to regular support in their own home, particularly in the early days following birth [ 52 ]. Community support by peer volunteers (such as Home Start in the UK) and home visits by midwives were examples of other health and social care interventions that women credited with making them feel more connected and providing emotional support that could make them feel less lonely [ 56 ]. This theme was strongly emphasised by the Patient Advisory Group.

Meta-theme 5 - peer support from other mothers who have experienced perinatal depression

To overcome the experience of loneliness relating specifically to the sense of having ‘inauthentic relationships’, women described the importance of being able to talk to other mothers that they felt empathised and understood their situation – particularly other mothers experiencing postpartum depression. These connections were valued both in person or online [ 18 , 54 , 55 , 60 , 67 ]. They felt that peers who had experienced perinatal depression too were less likely to judge and found the opportunity to share their experiences with these women liberating and helped them to feel less lonely, particularly in the setting of support groups and if they shared a similar cultural background [ 55 , 60 , 70 ] (‘ It was very comforting to listen to them tell me that they understood … and that it was going to get better … and that I wasn’t a bad mother ’ [ 60 ]).

Meta- theme 6 – practical and emotional support from family

Practical support from their partners and wider family, particularly with childcare, seemed to help with women’s loneliness [ 18 , 57 , 60 , 68 ]. Having some space away from their babies and ‘alone time’ paradoxically helped them feel less lonely by connecting with their old and new selves or enabling them to access treatment for their perinatal depression (‘ just taking the baby out so I can have some alone time … ’ [ 63 ]).

Women also felt less lonely if they felt their partner and family understood and appreciated their diagnosis of perinatal depression and offered emotional support [ 60 ]. Despite the transition to their new mother role, many women described still wanting to be ‘mothered’ themselves (“ I just wanted to be looked after ” [ 18 ]) and particularly valued support from their mothers or female family members [ 60 ].

What made loneliness worse for women with perinatal depression?

Meta-theme 7 - lack of professional support, groups and facilities.

Lack of professional validation would sometimes lead women to minimise their own depressive symptoms and often made them feel that they needed to cope alone [ 56 ] (‘ I felt that it wasn’t my place to talk about my feelings. It was not welcome there … so I just preferred not to say anything .’ [ 66 ]). Women felt particularly upset and lonely if professionals asked questions in a disinterested, ‘tick box’ way, if professionals minimised their symptoms, for example, saying that they were part of ‘normal motherhood’, or if they had to see many different professionals or people they did not feel comfortable with [ 56 , 60 , 63 , 68 ]. An abrupt end in professional support could leave women feeling lost and emotionally alone (‘“ Then my midwife stopped and she was kind of like, like somebody that I really relied on … it made me feel, I don’t know, like I’d had a loss .” [ 18 ]).

Even if women did try to access support, there was often a lack of appropriate spaces or services for mothers with perinatal depression – whether this was physical spaces suitable for mothers and babies to meet, or a lack of appropriate support groups specifically for perinatal depression [ 57 , 60 , 61 , 66 , 70 , 73 ]. Some women described experiencing language and cultural barriers when trying to access healthcare and a lack of familiarity with the new system they operated in, others described experiencing overt racism [ 66 , 71 , 74 ], all of which exacerbated feelings of loneliness and helplessness [ 66 ].

‘ My husband left me in pregnancy, and I have no-body, my family are in India. I can’t speak English properly, and I can’t read English to fill out forms. I need help, don’t know where to go, or who to turn to’ [ 74 ].

Meta-theme 8 –- conflict and separation from partner, family and community

The period of pregnancy and post birth was identified as putting a new and unique strain on existing family and partner relationships and this was exacerbated by a diagnosis of perinatal depression. If there was additional stress on a relationship - such as domestic abuse or substance use or separation due to work or immigration - then the relationships became even harder to navigate for women and increased their feelings of loneliness and isolation [ 55 , 59 , 65 , 73 ].

Feelings of loneliness seemed to be particularly strong in women separated from their family and cultural support systems– for example, women who were immigrants. (“ You feel like you’re alone in the world, there is not many people to care for me, and I don’t have family here … I felt lonely”) [ 55 , 71 ]. Women seemed to particularly mourn the separation from cultural traditions that were overtly supportive and offered companionship in early motherhood and many felt that they wouldn’t have been lonely or depressed if they were living within their own country or community of origin [ 55 , 66 ].

‘ You are attached to the family house you are not on your own, they make meals for you … the pressure is very low in Africa, it is not like that here. ’ [ 55 ].

Main findings

This meta-synthesis of qualitative studies that contained women’s accounts of loneliness in relation to their perinatal depression identified several important themes. Women’s tendency to self-isolate and hide their symptoms due to both self-perceived and experienced societal stigma was linked to loneliness. Loneliness was experienced as a sense of emotional disconnection from self, baby and other mothers following the transition to motherhood. There was often a mismatch between expected and actual family support – particularly affecting partner relationships – that exacerbated loneliness.

Women with perinatal depression felt that validation and understanding from trusted healthcare professionals, peer support from other mothers with perinatal depression, and both practical and emotional support from family were all important factors that could make the experience of perinatal depression and loneliness better. There was a sense that women felt lonelier when professionals minimised their symptoms or there was an absence of appropriate peer support groups. Many women with perinatal depression described how conflict and separation with partners, family and community – particularly separation from their own cultural communities - could lead them to feeling more lonely.

Findings in context of other studies

Existing qualitative and quantitative studies have already demonstrated an association between depression and loneliness and between parenthood and loneliness [ 13 , 22 ]. However, this study suggests there is also a unique interaction between perinatal depression and loneliness due to the particular circumstances and stressors associated with the transition to motherhood and the increased risk of depression at this time. This study also builds on the existing available evidence about perinatal depression. Previous qualitative studies looking at broader social experiences of women with perinatal depression (rather than loneliness specifically) found women described frequent experiences of loneliness [ 27 , 28 , 29 ]. One recent qualitative study specifically exploring loneliness in perinatal depression (that was included in this meta-synthesis) found women repeatedly described feeling lost, alone and isolated and linked these feelings to a lack of supportive relationships, fears of judgement and dislocation from their previous lives and identities [ 18 ]. These themes were strongly supported across the studies included in this meta-analysis.

The findings in this meta-synthesis support Weiss’ broader conceptualisation of loneliness as consisting of both ‘emotional’ and ‘social’ loneliness [ 10 ]. Women described feelings of being lonely, isolated, alone, disconnected in relation to a lack of intimate attachment and inability to confide in specific other people (partner, peers, family and even self) and also a lack of belonging to a wider social group or network that resulted from not feeling like a ‘good enough mother’ (such as the lack of authentic connections with other mother peers and lack of belonging in support groups). ‘Existential’ loneliness seemed to be described less commonly as a theme for these women with perinatal depression, although perhaps could be linked to the ‘disconnection’ some women described between their old and new sense of self and identity.

Many women described how the lack of expected support from family and the wider community had triggered or amplified their depression and impacted their feelings of loneliness. Many other women talked about how common symptoms or experiences associated with perinatal depression – inability to bond with their baby, fear and guilt at being a ‘bad mother’, inability to enjoy themselves – lead them to feel even more lonely. This interconnected relationship between perinatal depression and loneliness supports previous research findings that loneliness can be both a cause and a consequence of depression and the two experiences can be bidirectional and mutually reinforcing [ 40 ].

Moreover, previous research has found that loneliness is an important mediator in the relationship between mental health-related stigma and depression [ 78 ]. Self-stigma and experienced stigma were both dominant themes in the studies included in this synthesis and many women described an enforced self-withdrawal and isolation to avoid actual or perceived judgement and discrimination. This is reflected by this study’s title – one woman reported being told to ‘just snap out of it’ and related this negative interaction related to her depression to an increased sense of loneliness and isolation.

For some women a lack of family support or health care service provision resulted in an objective sense of aloneness that was not accompanied by an emotional aloneness – but many women reported experiencing both. There were also many women who did have access to practical and emotional support but did not feel able to connect with it and felt lonely in spite of it.

Many previous studies have focussed on the social experiences of more marginalised groups with perinatal depression (such as teenage, ethnic minority and immigrant mothers) and find that loneliness is complicated by the multiple disadvantages that these women face [ 18 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 35 ]. In keeping with these previous studies, this review found an important intersectionality between stigma and minority group status, whereby women from marginalised communities described how perinatal depression exacerbated the inequalities that they experienced and lead them to retreat further from people and places where they might otherwise have found connection. The social context of motherhood in these disadvantaged groups (for example, the lack of extended family networks for immigrant mothers) combined with their pre-existing lack of integration into society reinforced feelings of loneliness for these mothers.

The testimony of women about their experience of a mismatch in the expected and actual support they received resonates with Mauthner’s relational theory of postnatal depression – the disconnection between expectations of a ‘universally happy time’ and the reality of women feeling inadequate and unsupported - as well as Peplau’s definition of loneliness [ 9 , 79 ]. Mauthner also described a vicious cycle of ‘self silencing’ and withdrawal that was reflected in the accounts of women in this meta-synthesis who felt a ‘double bind’ of loneliness – needing more support due to their depression but getting less support because of it [ 80 ].

Social identity theory states that social groups and relations are an integral part of one’s identity. Evidence suggests that individuals who identify highly with a group tend to report less depression [ 81 ]. Some theories propose that loneliness can be normative during important transitions due to a lack of others experiencing the same transition, a loss of roles or change in social networks [ 82 ]. This study complements feminist literature that proposes the transition to motherhood can result in a more complex and pathological sense of ‘loss’ of identity and sense of belonging and inequality for women, including feelings of bereavement; loss of career, status and confidence; and a ‘dislocation’ from their former selves [ 28 , 79 , 83 , 84 , 85 , 86 , 87 , 88 ] – and also demonstrates how perinatal depression can further pathologise this more normative experience of loneliness.

Research has shown that people’s sense of belongingness to, and identification with, social groups has important health and wellbeing benefits and community-level interventions that enhance community identification and peer support can improve feelings of loneliness and depression (for example, Groups4Health [ 89 ]) [ 81 , 90 , 91 , 92 ]. Existing studies exploring peer support in the perinatal period in the UK and North America have demonstrated both acceptability to mothers [ 93 ] and a reduction of scores for mothers on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, whether they engage with online [ 94 ], telephone-based [ 95 ], group-based [ 96 ] or one-to-one [ 97 ] peer support [ 98 ]. However, data relating to peer support groups was one area of contradiction in this study. Most women seemed to feel that attending support groups and connecting with like-minded mothers could help them feel less alone. But some women found groups exacerbated their feelings of inauthenticity and loneliness, depending on the characteristics of other attendees – particularly if they felt misunderstood by these peers. These conflicting experiences need further exploration to inform the development of more accessible peer support interventions specifically for women with perinatal depression.

This study identified an important role for healthcare professionals in influencing women’s experience of loneliness and perinatal depression. The difficulty and fear of sharing their depression symptoms with healthcare professionals seemed to increase loneliness and delay appropriate treatment for women’s perinatal depression. However, many women in this meta-synthesis also described how sharing their experiences with a trusted healthcare professional helped them feel less lonely. Indeed, loneliness has been found to increase certain types of health and social care utilisation in older populations [ 99 ]. In keeping with research from other mental health settings, women also reported a sense of loss and aloneness when professional support ended [ 100 ], indicating the importance of trusted and timely health care interactions with clarity around nature and duration of interventions.

Strengths and limitations

This qualitative meta-synthesis builds on existing research by combining available primary data to answer a novel research question about which factors might alleviate or worsen loneliness in perinatal depression – providing answers with the potential to positively impact clinical practice and the lives of women with perinatal depression.

The study used a well-recognised and robust methodology and systematic search strategy that was pre-registered and supported by a team of experienced researchers [ 37 ]. Issues of reflexivity and threats to validity were acknowledged and explored through regular meetings of the multidisciplinary review team. The involvement of women with lived experience throughout the project was vital for improving the robustness, validity and clinical utility of the results.

Social isolation and loneliness are seen increasingly as priorities when supporting people with mental health difficulties [ 21 , 40 ]. Given pregnancy and the postnatal period are times of increased health and social care contact, the peripartum could serve as an opportune moment to intervene to prevent or alleviate depression, particularly given the recent increase in investment in National Health Service perinatal mental health services in the UK [ 101 , 102 ]. The findings are highly relevant and particularly timely given the significant and disproportionate impact the recent Covid-19 pandemic-related health and social restrictions (such as absence of support during labour and early childrearing and lack of face-to-face access to midwives, health visitors and support groups) seem to have had on perinatal women’s mental health both in the UK and globally [ 103 , 104 ].

There are some limitations in this review that relate to limitations in the existing evidence examining loneliness and postnatal depression qualitatively. In terms of the quality of included studies, 63% neglected to address issues of reflexivity in the original paper so the subjectivity of findings must be kept in mind when interpreting the results.

A key limitation of this study is that only one included study explored loneliness experiences in women with perinatal depression as a primary aim, the remaining studies had broader aims about experiences of perinatal depression or social support more generally. This meant that the included studies did not necessarily probe the experience of loneliness – for example, as far as we are aware none of the participants across the 27 studies were specifically asked what makes feelings of loneliness better or worse for them. This reduces the richness and variety in the available data relevant to this study’s research questions. However, it does highlight the importance of loneliness for these women as loneliness experiences were raised spontaneously in all of these studies.

There was some heterogeneity in the method of diagnosis of perinatal depression and many women retrospectively self-reported their depression and experiences, thus introducing recall bias and reducing the overall diagnostic validity of perinatal depression across the included studies. The majority of papers were reporting experiences of postnatal depression, so the overall results tell us more about experiences of loneliness after birth than during pregnancy. It would be interesting to explore in future research how the different stages of the perinatal period and the transition to motherhood impacted on both women’s experience of loneliness and perinatal depression.

In terms of the overall study methodology, any meta-synthesis involves re-analysis of previously analysed data and could lead to superficial interpretations that undermine the integrity of the original primary research. Meta-synthesis also decontextualises the primary data, removing the ability to interpret the original accounts in the context of their location, time or the research studies specific analytic perspectives for example [ 38 , 42 ]. Given there were 27 studies in this synthesis with heterogeneous analytic approaches, this is a particular concern. The efforts made at convening a Patient Advisory Group meeting and regular researcher meetings were a reasonable attempt to address reflexivity and provide more confidence about the interpretations. There was also heterogeneity in the study populations, type of perinatal depression, comorbidities so it is difficult to generalise the findings to individual patients.

This subjectivity in the selection of primary data may have been greater given that the initial search used not only the term loneliness, but also a range of closely related but distinct concepts (such as social isolation, support, connectedness). It is possible that some included quotes may be referring to these closely related concepts rather than loneliness per se, thus may not be appropriate to compare or combine thematically [ 9 , 10 ].

This study excluded studies related to specific interventions, which limits the ability to draw conclusions about how different types of formal support might impact on women’s loneliness experiences and their perinatal depression. For example, there is a lack of data about how different types of peer support (online vs face-to-face; group vs individual) might improve or ameliorate loneliness.

The majority of studies contributing to this meta-synthesis were conducted in high income countries in the Global North, with relatively homogenous socio-cultural settings, making it difficult to speculate about the impact of different cultural contexts. The experiences of women in the one study based in a ‘non-Western’ country that described the impact of a unique Chinese perinatal cultural ritual (‘doing the month’ - involving one month of confinement after birth [ 72 ]) in fact mapped well to the overarching meta-synthesis theme of mismatch in expected and perceived support – suggesting that there may be similarities cross-culturally in loneliness experiences in perinatal depression. However, more research is needed into interpretations of both perinatal depression and loneliness experiences in a range of cultural and social contexts [ 105 ].

Clinical and policy implications

This study provides important insights for clinicians, women and their families, peers and researchers. Lay dissemination of these findings could help women feel more understood and less alone in their experiences of perinatal depression and could educate others about how to support them to feel less lonely during their transition into motherhood.

Given the centrality of loneliness in the accounts of women’s experiences of perinatal depression, it seems appropriate that perinatal women are asked directly both about symptoms of depression and feelings of loneliness when they are accessing healthcare - particularly maternity services - to assess whether they are at risk of perinatal depression or indeed whether their loneliness is exacerbating any existing depression. Other key suggestions to clinicians could be (i) to explore and validate women’s experiences of perinatal depression, (ii) encourage women to share their diagnosis with trusted family and (iii) signpost to peer support from other mothers with lived experience of perinatal depression. Indeed, these findings emphasise the importance for all people interacting with perinatal women to reassure them that they are a ‘good enough’ mother where possible. These results also suggest a need for greater access to support groups specifically for women with perinatal depression that are well facilitated and held in accessible spaces, including online forums.

Local and national health and social care services need to think about the perinatal experiences of women in marginalised communities and consider how their unique experiences of new motherhood, social isolation, discrimination and perceived stigma put them at increased risk of experiencing loneliness and developing mental health complications. Providing clear access to healthcare and social support that is culturally appropriate and without language barriers is a very basic first step in meeting the complex needs of these women and helping them feel less alone. Interventions and campaigns that attempt to reduce perinatal depression-related stigma both in these communities and across the general population, whether run by public health bodies or third sector organisations, are urgently needed.

Future research

To address some of the limitations raised in this study and develop a more comprehensive understanding, it is important to conduct more primary qualitative interview studies with a specific focus on women’s experiences of loneliness and perinatal depression, both in pregnancy and after birth. Further research using quantitative techniques to empirically test the relationship between perinatal depression and loneliness is also required.

More qualitative research is particularly needed in low- and middle-income countries to gain an understanding of how resource poor settings and different healthcare systems and cultural contexts impact upon women’s experience of loneliness and perinatal depression. Further exploration of loneliness and perinatal depression in other marginalised groups is required given the double burden of stigma they experience, for example, women who experience domestic abuse or use substances. Future research could also attempt to unpick the degree to which loneliness experiences are associated with all perinatal mental health disorders rather than just depression - as we found a relative lack of qualitative research for other psychiatric conditions - and the impact of physical health obstetric complications on loneliness – as this was an area highlighted by the Patient Advisory Group that was absent from the data.

The provision of social support has consistently been shown to reduce the risk of postnatal depression, providing a ‘buffering effect’ that helps women to cope with postnatal stressors and build confidence and self-esteem in their new role [ 106 , 107 , 108 , 109 , 110 , 111 ]. However, there is currently a lack of research into perinatal interventions that specifically target loneliness. This study helps pave the way for further exploration of social and psychological interventions that target loneliness in the perinatal period with a further aim to understand their impact on the risk of perinatal depression. This might include the adaptation for perinatal depression of existing successful interventions for loneliness and depression in the general population – for example, those that improve meaningful social connections [ 89 ] or attempt cognitive modification to improve subjective isolation [ 25 ].

This meta-synthesis of 27 qualitative studies derived eight meta-themes describing experiences of loneliness among women with perinatal depression. Whilst few of the included studies specifically asked women about loneliness, the frequency with which it came up in women’s accounts demonstrates the centrality of loneliness in relation to perinatal depression. Women described how feelings of loneliness often arose due to self-isolation in response to the perceived stigma associated with their depression and the fear of being judged as a ‘bad mother’. Women reported their internal critical self-comparisons and resulting feelings of failure led to a sense of inauthenticity and fraudulence when interacting with their peers. A sense of disconnection with their family, babies and with their pre-pregnancy selves created a complicated dual sense of emotional and social loneliness. Women emphasised the importance of regular, trusted support and validation from healthcare professionals, peer support from women with lived experience of perinatal depression as well as non-judgemental emotional and practical support from families. Women from disadvantaged or marginalised communities experienced a double burden with pre-existing inequalities and social isolation interacting with and worsening their experience of perinatal depression and loneliness. The results provide a solid foundation for further theories about the role of loneliness in perinatal depression. They also provide evidence on which the development of future psychological and social interventions could be based, to address the stigma faced by women experiencing perinatal depression and to offer personalised and culturally appropriate support that might reduce the risk of both loneliness and depression.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


Critical Appraisal Skills Programme

Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Screen

General Practice

Mother and Baby Unit

Not in education, employment or training

Patient Advisory Group

Postpartum depression.

Prinds C, Hvidt NC, Mogensen O, Buus N. Making existential meaning in transition to motherhood--a scoping review. Midwifery. 2014;30(6):733–41.

Article   PubMed   Google Scholar  

Nelson AM. Transition to motherhood. J Obstet Gynecol neonatal Nurs JOGNN. 2003;32(4):465–77 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med5&NEWS=N&AN=12903696 .

Okagbue HI, Adamu PI, Bishop SA, Oguntunde PE, Opanuga AA, Akhmetshin EM. Systematic review of prevalence of antepartum depression during the trimesters of pregnancy. Open access Maced J Med Sci. 2019;7(9):1555–60.

Article   PubMed   PubMed Central   Google Scholar  

Gavin NI, Gaynes BN, Lohr KN, Meltzer-Brody S, Gartlehner G, Swinson T. Perinatal depression: a systematic review of prevalence and incidence. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106(5 Pt 1):1071–83.

O’Hara MW, Rehm LP, Campbell SB. Postpartum depression a role for social network and life stress variables. J Nerv Ment Dis. 1983;171:336–41.

Howard L, Khalifeh H. Perinatal mental health: a review of progress and challenges. World Psychiatry. 2020;19(3):313–27.

Sinclair D, Murray L. Effects of postnatal depression on children’s adjustment to school - Teacher’s reports. Br J Psychiatry. 1998;172:58–63.

Article   CAS   PubMed   Google Scholar  

Aktar E, Qu J, Lawrence PJ, Tollenaar MS, Elzinga BM, Bögels SM. Fetal and infant outcomes in the offspring of parents with perinatal mental disorders: earliest influences. Front. Psychiatry. 2019;10:1–20.

Google Scholar  

Peplau L, Perlman D. Loneliness: a sourcebook of current theory, research, and therapy. New York: Wiley Interscience; 1982.

Weiss RS. Loneliness:The experience of emotional and social isolation. Loneliness: the experience of emotional and social isolation. Cambridge, MA, US, MA, US: The MIT Press; 1973.

Van Tilburg TG. Social, emotional, and existential loneliness: a test of the multidimensional concept. Gerontologist. 2021;61(7):E335–44.

Lee K, Vasileiou K, Barnett J. “Lonely within the mother”: an exploratory study of first-time mothers’ experiences of loneliness. J Health Psychol [Internet]. 2019;24(10):1334–44 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med16&NEWS=N&AN=28795604 .

Nowland R, Thomson G, McNally L, Smith T, Whittaker K. Experiencing loneliness in parenthood: a scoping review. Perspect Public Health. 2021;141(4):214–25.

Article   CAS   PubMed   PubMed Central   Google Scholar  

Action for Children. A report looking into the impact of loneliness in children, young people and families. 2017;25. Available from: https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/media/9724/action_for_children_it_starts_with_hello_report__november_2017_lowres.pdf

Co-Operative Group Staff & British Red Cross Society. Trapped in a bubble. An investigation into triggers for loneliness in the UK [Internet]. 2016. 52 p. Available from: https://www.co-operative.coop/campaigning/loneliness

Luoma I, Korhonen M, Puura K, Salmelin RK. Maternal loneliness: concurrent and longitudinal associations with depressive symptoms and child adjustment. Psychol Heal Med. 2019;24(6):667–79.

Article   Google Scholar  

Basu A, Kim HH, Basaldua R, Choi KW, Charron L, Kelsall N, et al. A cross-national study of factors associated with women’s perinatal mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. PLoS One. 2021;16(4):1–18.

Taylor BL, Howard LM, Jackson K, Johnson S, Mantovani N, Nath S, et al. Mums alone: exploring the role of isolation and loneliness in the narratives of women diagnosed with perinatal depression. J Clin Med. 2021;10(11) Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=pmnm&NEWS=N&AN=34073903 .

Morrison P, Smith R. Loneliness: an overview. In: Sagan O, Miller E, editors. Narratives of loneliness: multidisciplinary perspectives from the 21st century: Routledge; 2017. p. 11–25.

Chapter   Google Scholar  

Meltzer H, Bebbington P, Dennis MS, Jenkins R, McManus S, Brugha TS. Feelings of loneliness among adults with mental disorder. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2013;48(1):5–13.

Lee SL, Pearce E, Ajnakina O, Johnson S, Lewis GG, Mann F, et al. The association between loneliness and depressive symptoms among adults aged 50 years and older: a 12-year population-based cohort study. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2021;8(1):48–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30383-7 .

Wang J, Mann F, Lloyd-Evans B, Ma R, Johnson S. Associations between loneliness and perceived social support and outcomes of mental health problems: a systematic review. BMC Psychiatry. 2018;18(1):1–16.

Cacioppo JT, Hughes ME, Waite LJ, Hawkley LC, Thisted RA. Loneliness as a specific risk factor for depressive symptoms: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Psychol Aging. 2006;21(1):140–51.

Hawkley LC, Cacioppo JT. Loneliness matters: a theoretical and empirical review of consequences and mechanisms. Ann Behav Med. 2010;40(2):218–27 Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20652462 .

Ma R, Mann F, Wang J, Lloyd-Evans B, Terhune J, Al-Shihabi A, et al. The effectiveness of interventions for reducing subjective and objective social isolation among people with mental health problems: a systematic review. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2020;55(7):839–76.

Mann F, Wang J, Pearce E, Ma R, Schleif M, Lloyd-Evans B, et al. Loneliness and the onset of new mental health problems in the general population: a systematic review. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2022;57(11):2161–78. Available from: http://medrxiv.org/content/early/2021/02/12/2021..26.21250587.abstract .

Beck CTCT. The lived experience of postpartum depression: a phenomenological study. Nurs Res. 1992;41(3):166–70 Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip ,shib&db=jlh&AN=107489539&site=ehost-live&scope=site&custid=s8454451.

Highet N, Purtell C, Stevenson AL, Coo S. Qualitative insights into women’s personal experiences of perinatal depression and anxiety. Women and Birth. 2014;27(3):179–84 Available from: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/707424/description#description .

Schmied V, Naidoo N, Black E, Dahlen HG, Liamputtong P. Migrant women’s experiences, meanings and ways of dealing with postnatal depression: a meta-ethnographic study. PLoS One. 2017;12(3):e0172385 Available from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0172385&type=printable .

Wittkowski A, Patel S, Fox JR. The experience of postnatal depression in immigrant mothers living in Western countries: a Meta-synthesis. Clin Psychol Psychother. 2017;24(2):411–27 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med14&NEWS=N&AN=26987569 .

Targosz S, Bebbington P, Lewis G, Brugha T, Jenkins R, Farrell M, et al. Lone mothers, social exclusion and depression. Psychol Med. 2003;33(4):715–22 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=emed8&NEWS=N&AN=36626053 .

Lynch K, Lyons M. Gender, Social class and lone caring: the intersectionality of inequalities. In: Affective equality: love, care and injustice. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK; 2009. p. 93–113. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230245082_6 .

Vervliet M, De Mol J, Broekaert E, Derluyn I. ‘That I Live, that’s Because of Her’: Intersectionality as Framework for Unaccompanied Refugee Mothers. Br J Soc Work. 2014;44(7):2023–41 Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip ,shib&db=jlh&AN=103907550&site=ehost-live&scope=site&custid=s8454451.

Warner LR, Settles IH, Shields SA. Intersectionality theory in the psychology of women. In: APA handbook of the psychology of women: history, theory, and battlegrounds, vol. 1. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association; 2018. p. 521–39. (APA handbooks in psychology®.).

Abrams LS, Curran L. Maternal identity negotiations among low-income women with symptoms of postpartum depression. Qual Health Res. 2011;21(3):373–85.

Tong A, Flemming K, McInnes E, Oliver S, Craig J. Enhancing transparency in reporting the synthesis of qualitative research: ENTREQ. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2012;12(1):1–8.

Lachal J, Revah-Levy A, Orri M, Moro MR. Metasynthesis: an original method to synthesize qualitative literature in psychiatry. Front. Psychiatry. 2017;8:269.

Erwin EJ, Brotherson MJ, Summers JA. Understanding qualitative metasynthesis: issues and opportunities in early childhood intervention research. J Early Interv. 2011;33(3):186–200.

Barnett-Page E, Thomas J. Methods for the synthesis of qualitative research: a critical review. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2009;9(1).

Achterbergh L, Pitman A, Birken M, Pearce E, Sno H, Johnson S. The experience of loneliness among young people with depression: a qualitative meta-synthesis of the literature. BMC Psychiatry. 2020;20(1):1–23.

Atkins S, Lewin S, Smith H, Engel M, Fretheim A, Volmink J. Conducting a meta-ethnography of qualitative literature: lessons learnt. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2008;8:1–10.

Sandelowski M, Docherty S, Emden C. Focus on qualitative methods qualitative Metasynthesis: issues and techniques. Res Nurs Health. 1997;20(4):365–71.

Wang J, Lloyd-Evans B, Giacco D, Forsyth R, Nebo C, Mann F, et al. Social isolation in mental health: a conceptual and methodological review. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol [Internet]. 2017;52(12):1451–61. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-017-1446-1 .

Cacioppo JT, Hawkley LC, Norman GJ, Berntson GG. Social isolation. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011;1231(1):17–22.

Cohen S, Wills TA. Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychol Bull. 1985;98(2):310–57.

de Jong G, van Tilburg T, Dykstra P. Loneliness and social isolation: Cambridge Handbook of Personal Relationships. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2006.

NHS England. NHS Mental health implementation plan: 2019–2024. 2019;(July):1–57. Available from: https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/nhs-mental-health-implementation-plan-2019-20-2023-24.pdf202324%0A https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/publication/nhs-mental-health-implementation-plan-2019-20-2023-24/

Critical appraisal skills Programme. Qualitative Checklist 2021. Available from: https://casp-uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/CASP-Qualitative-Checklist-2018.pdf

Long HA, French DP, Brooks JM. Optimising the value of the critical appraisal skills programme (CASP) tool for quality appraisal in qualitative evidence synthesis. Res Methods Med Heal Sci. 2020;1(1):31–42.

QSR International Pty Ltd. Nvivo qualitative data analysis software. Version 20. 2021.

Blanchard A, Hodgson J, Gunn W, Jesse E, White M. Understanding social support and the couple’s relationship among women with depressive symptoms in pregnancy. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2009;30(12):764–76.

Boath EH, Henshaw C, Bradley E. Meeting the challenges of teenage mothers with postpartum depression: overcoming stigma through support. Birkeland Botting, Brown, Chambers, Clement, Colletta, Cox, Cronin, Cuijpers, Dennis, Field, Gidlow, Grace, Hanna, Hodgkinson, Hudson, Jolly, Lanzi, Logsdon, Logsdon, Logsdon, Lumley, Martins, McCulloch, McDonald, Mercer, Moffitt, Murray, O’Hara, Olausso B, editor. J Reprod Infant Psychol [Internet]. 2013;31(4):352–69. Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=emed14&NEWS=N&AN=52637523

Edhborg M, Lundh W, Widström AM, Friberg M. “Struggling with life”: narratives from women with signs of postpartum depression. Scand J Public Health. 2005;33(4):261–7.

Evans M, Donelle L, Hume-Loveland L. Social support and online postpartum depression discussion groups: a content analysis. Patient Educ Couns. 2012;87(3):405–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2011.09.011 .

Gardner PL, Bunton P, Edge D, Wittkowski A. The experience of postnatal depression in west African mothers living in the United Kingdom: a qualitative study. Midwifery. 2014;30(6):756–63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2013.08.001 .

Hanley J, Long B. A study of welsh mothers’ experiences of postnatal depression. Midwifery. 2006;22(2):147–57 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med6&NEWS=N&AN=16243415 .

Jackson K, Smart D, McGovern R, Kaner E, Henderson EJ, Newham JJ, et al. Exploring care from extended family through rural women’s accounts of perinatal mental illness - a qualitative study with implications for policy and practice. Heal Place. 2020;66:102427 Available from: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/healthplace .

Keefe RH, Brownstein-Evans C, Polmanteer RR. “I find peace there”: how faith, church, and spirituality help mothers of colour cope with postpartum depression. Ment Heal Relig & Cult. 2016;19(7):722–33.

Keefe RH, Rouland RS, Lane SD, Brownstein-Evans C, Larrison CR, Delmerico AM. The Normative Nature of Depression Among Impoverished Mothers of Color: “..going around this big old circle.. it always remain the same.”. Fam Soc. 2019;100(2):188–99.

Letourneau N, Duffett-Leger L, Stewart M, Hegadoren K, Dennis C-L, Rinaldi CM, et al. Canadian mothers’ perceived support needs during postpartum depression. JOGNN - J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2007;36(5):441–9 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med6&NEWS=N&AN=17880314 .

Mauthner NS. Postnatal Depression: The Significance of Social Contacts Between Mothers. Aderibigde Bell, Belsky, Boulton, Boyce, Brannen, Breen, Brown, Brown, Cosminsky, Cox, Cutrona, Dalton, Day, Elliott, Frake, Garcia, Gilligan, Gilligan, Goffman, Harkness, Hopkins, Jack, Jones, Jordan, Jordan, Kaplan, Keeley-Robinson, Kelly, Kendell, Kit A, editor. Womens Stud Int Forum [Internet]. 1995;18(3):311–23. Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=psyc3&NEWS=N&AN=2005-16871-018

Mauthner NS. “It’s a woman’s cry for help”: a relational perspective on postnatal depression. Fem Psychol. 1998;8(3):325–55.

Montgomery P, Bailey P, Purdon SJ, Snelling SJ, Kauppi C. Women with postpartum depression: “my husband” stories. BMC Nurs. 2009;8:1–14.

Morrow M, Smith JE, Lai Y, Jaswal S. Shifting landscapes: immigrant women and postpartum depression. Health Care Women Int [Internet]. 2008;29(6):593–617 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med7&NEWS=N&AN=18569046 .

Nahas VL, Hillege S, Amasheh N. Postpartum depression: The lived experiences of middle eastern migrant women in Australia. Raisler J, J Nurse Midwifery. 1999 44, (1):65–74. Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip ,shib&db=jlh&AN=107178012&site=ehost-live&scope=site&custid=s8454451.

O’Mahony JM, Donnelly TT, Bouchal SR, Este D. Barriers and facilitators of social supports for immigrant and refugee women coping with postpartum depression. Adv Nurs Sci. 2012;35(3):E42–56 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med9&NEWS=N&AN=22869217 .

Raymond JE. “Creating a safety net”: Women’s experiences of antenatal depression and their identification of helpful community support and services during pregnancy. Midwifery. 2009;25(1):39–49 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med7&NEWS=N&AN=17397975 .

Recto P, Champion JD. Social support and perinatal depression: the perspectives of Mexican-American adolescent mothers. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2020;41(10):932–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/01612840.2020.1731027 .

Roseth I, Binder P-E, Malt UF. Two ways of living through postpartum depression. Abrams Amankwaa, Beck, Beck, Berggren-Clive, Cox, Edhborg, Everingham, Fuchs, Fuchs, Fuchs, Gavin, Giorgi, Giorgi, Giorgi, Giorgi, Giorgi, Giorgi, Hall, Heidegger, Husserl, Jones, Jones, Leung, Maguire, Mason, Mauthner, Mauthner, Merleau-Ponty, Morgan, N A, editor. J Phenomenol Psychol [Internet]. 2011;42(2):174–94. Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=psyc8&NEWS=N&AN=2011-27958-003

Scrandis DA. Normalizing postpartum depressive symptoms with social support. Beck Beck, Beck, Beck, Beck, Beck, Brugha, Carter, Chen, Creswell, Dalton, Dennis, Gilligan, Gottlieb, Grucza, Heneghan, Hirschfeld, Hupcey, Karp, Leadbeater, Logsdon, Logsdon, Meleis, Miller, Murray, Reid, Resnick, Sequin, Strauss, Taylor, Wisner, Wisne B, editor. J Am Psychiatr Nurses Assoc [Internet]. 2005 Aug;11(4):223–30. Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=psyc4&NEWS=N&AN=2005-11421-002

Shafiei T, Small R, McLachlan H. Immigrant afghan women’s emotional well-being after birth and use of health services in Melbourne. Australia Midwifery. 2015;31(7):671–7.

Tang L, Zhu R, Zhang X. Postpartum depression and social support in China: a cultural perspective. J Health Commun. 2016;21(9):1055–61 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med13&NEWS=N&AN=27491938 .

Templeton L, Velleman R, Persaud A, Milner P. The experiences of postnatal depression in women from Black and minority ethnic communities in Wiltshire. UK Ethn Heal. 2003;8(3):207–21.

Wittkowski A, Zumla A, Glendenning S, Fox JRE. The experience of postnatal depression in south Asian mothers living in Great Britain: a qualitative study. J Reprod Infant Psychol. 2012;29(5):480–92.

Finlayson K, Crossland N, Bonet M, Downe S. What matters to women in the postnatal period: a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies. PLoS One. 2020;15(4):1–23. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231415 .

Article   CAS   Google Scholar  

World Bank. World Bank open Data [Internet]. 2021. Available from: https://data.worldbank.org

National Institute for health and care excellence. Clinical knowledge summary: depression - antenatal and postnatal [Internet]. nice.org.uk . 2020. Available from: https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/depression-antenatal-postnatal/

Świtaj P, Grygiel P, Anczewska M, Wciórka J. Loneliness mediates the relationship between internalised stigma and depression among patients with psychotic disorders. Int J Soc Psychiatry [Internet]. 2013;60(8):733–40. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020764013513442 .

Mauthner NS. “Feeling low and feeling really bad about feeling low”: Women’s experiences of motherhood and postpartum depression. Can Psychol Can. 1999;40(2):143–61.

Knudson-Martin C, Silverstein R. Suffering in silence: a qualitative Meta-Data-analysis of postpartum depression. J Marital Fam Ther. 2009;35(2):145–58 Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1752-0606.2009.00112.x .

Postmes T, Wichmann LJ, van Valkengoed AM, van der Hoef H. Social identification and depression: a meta-analysis. Eur J Soc Psychol. 2019;49(1):110–26. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2508 .

Haslam SA. Psychology in organizations: Sage; 2004.

Beck CT. Postpartum depression: a Metasynthesis. Qual Health Res [Internet]. 2002;12(4):453–72. https://doi.org/10.1177/104973202129120016 .

Nicolson P. Loss, happiness and postpartum depression: the ultimate paradox. Can Psychol Can. 1999;40(2):162–78.

Nystrom K, Ohrling K. Parenthood experiences during the child’s first year: literature review. J Adv Nurs. 2004;46(3):319–30 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med5&NEWS=N&AN=15066113 .

Oakley A. Women confined: towards a sociology of childbirth. New York City, NY, US: Schocken Books; 1980.

Held L, Rutherford A. Can’t a mother sing the blues? Postpartum depression and the construction of motherhood in late 20th-century America. Hist Psychol. 2012;15(2):107–23.

Romito P. Postpartum depression and the experience of motherhood. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1990;69(S154):1–37. https://doi.org/10.3109/00016349009156507 .

Haslam C, Cruwys T, Chang MX-L, Bentley SV, Haslam SA, Dingle GA, et al. GROUPS 4 HEALTH reduces loneliness and social anxiety in adults with psychological distress: findings from a randomized controlled trial. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2019;87(9):787–801.

McNamara N, Stevenson C, Costa S, Bowe M, Wakefield J, Kellezi B, et al. Community identification, social support, and loneliness: the benefits of social identification for personal well-being. Br J Soc Psychol. 2021;60(4):1379–402.

Wakefield JR, Bowe M, Kellezi B, McNamara N, Stevenson C. When groups help and when groups harm: Origins, developments, and future directions of the “Social Cure” perspective of group dynamics. Soc Personal Psychol Compass. 2019;13(3):e12440. https://doi.org/10.1111/spc3.12440 .

Tewari S, Khan S, Hopkins N, Srinivasan N, Reicher S. Participation in Mass Gatherings Can Benefit Well-Being: Longitudinal and Control Data from a North Indian Hindu Pilgrimage Event. PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47291. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0047291 .

Letourneau N, Secco L, Colpitts J, Aldous S, Stewart M, Dennis C-L. Quasi-experimental evaluation of a telephone-based peer support intervention for maternal depression. J Adv Nurs. 2015;71(7):1587–99.

Baumel A, Tinkelman A, Mathur N, Kane JM. Digital peer-support platform (7Cups) as an adjunct treatment for women with postpartum depression: feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy study. JMIR mHealth uHealth. 2018;6(2):e38.

Dennis C-L. The effect of peer support on postpartum depression: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Can J Psychiatry [Internet]. 2003;48(2):115–24 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med5&NEWS=N&AN=12655910 .

Prevatt B-S, Lowder EM, Desmarais SL. Peer-support intervention for postpartum depression: participant satisfaction and program effectiveness. Midwifery [Internet]. 2018;64:38–47 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med15&NEWS=N&AN=29908406 .

Fogarty B, Kingswell S. Pals in pregnancy: a luxury or a lifeline? Br J Midwifery. 2002;10(9):554–9 Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip ,shib&db=jlh&AN=106837744&site=ehost-live&scope=site&custid=s8454451.

Moran J. Peer Support in Perinatal Mental Health: Review of Evidence and Provision in Scotland. 2020;45. Available from: https://www.gov.scot/publications/peer-support-perinatal-mental-health-review-evidence-provision-scotland-internship-project-report/pages/2/

Wang H, Zhao E, Fleming J, Dening T, Khaw KT, Brayne C. Is loneliness associated with increased health and social care utilisation in the oldest old? Findings from a population-based longitudinal study. BMJ Open. 2019;9(5):1–8.

Bacha K, Hanley T, Winter LA. ‘Like a human being, I was an equal, I wasn’t just a patient’: Service users’ perspectives on their experiences of relationships with staff in mental health services. Psychol Psychother Theory, Res Pract. 2020;93(2):367–86. https://doi.org/10.1111/papt.12218 .

gov.uk. Prime Minister pledges a revolution in mental health treatment [Internet]. 2016. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-pledges-a-revolution-in-mental-health-treatment

NHS. NHS Long Term Plan: Maternity and neonatal services [Internet]. 2019. Available from: https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/online-version/chapter-3-further-progress-on-care-quality-and-outcomes/a-strong-start-in-life-for-children-and-young-people/maternity-and-neonatal-services/

Chmielewska B, Barratt I, Townsend R, Kalafat E, van der Meulen J, Gurol-Urganci I, et al. Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on maternal and perinatal outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Glob Heal. 2021;9(6):e759–72 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med18&NEWS=N&AN=33811827 .

Knight M, Bunch K, Cairns A, Cantwell R, Cox P, Kenyon S, et al. Saving lives, improving mothers’ care rapid report: learning from SARS-CoV-2-related and associated maternal deaths in the UK march – may 2020. Oxford: National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford; 2020.

Oates MR, Cox JL, Neema S, Asten P, Glangeaud-Freudenthal N, Figueiredo B, et al. Postnatal depression across countries and cultures: a qualitative study. Br J Psychiatry. 2004;184(SUPPL. 46).

Howell E, Mora P, Leventhal H, Howell EA, Mora P, Leventhal H. Correlates of early postpartum depressive symptoms. Matern Child Health J. 2006;10(2):149–57 Available from: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=med6&NEWS=N&AN=16341910 .

Hung CH, Chung HH. The effects of postpartum stress and social support on postpartum women’s health status. J Adv Nurs. 2001;36(5):676–84.

Dennis C-L, Chung-Lee L. Postpartum depression help-seeking barriers and maternal treatment preferences: a qualitative systematic review. Birth. 2006;33(4):323–31.

Milgrom J, Hirshler Y, Reece J, Holt C, Gemmill AW. Social support-a protective factor for depressed perinatal women? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(8).

Leahy WP. First-time mothers: social support and confidence in infant care. J Adv Nurs. 2005;50(5):479–88.

Collins NL, Dunkel-Schetter C, Lobel M, Scrimshaw SC. Social support in pregnancy: psychosocial correlates of birth outcomes and postpartum depression. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1993;65(6):1243–58.

Download references


Thank you to the KCL Section for Women’s Mental Health Patient Advisory Group, particularly the PPI Lead Dr. Clare Dolman; UCL Mental Health Sciences Research MSc course organisers; and the UCL Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health Network for their support with this research.

KA conducted this research as part of the dissertation component for the master’s programme in Mental Health Sciences Research at University College London, and is supervised by SJ, EP, CAW, RN and BLT. SJ and EP are supported by a UKRI grant that funds the Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health Research network (grant number: ES/S004440/1). Funding was obtained from KA’s MSc study budget for use of a reference management programme (EppiReviewer) and to provide expenses for people attending the Patients Advisory Group.

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Division of Psychiatry, University College London, London, UK

Katherine Adlington, Cristina Vasquez, Eiluned Pearce & Sonia Johnson

Section of Women’s Mental Health, King’s College London, London, UK

Katherine Adlington, Claire A. Wilson & Billie Lever Taylor

East London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

Katherine Adlington

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

Claire A. Wilson

School of Health and Midwifery, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK

Rebecca Nowland

Person with lived experience, London, UK

Sarah Spring

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

Sonia Johnson

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar


KA – Conducted literature search and screening and selected papers to be included in study. Identified relevant text from the included studies and helped develop a coding framework. Prepared and wrote first draft of the manuscript, including preparing figures and supplementary material. Edited first draft in response to other authors comments. CV - Conducted literature search and screening and selected papers to be included in study. Identified relevant text from the included studies and helped develop a coding framework. Reviewed and edited first draft of manuscript. EP – Member of the multidisciplinary research team who attended regular meetings to advise on study methodology including analysis of data and helped shape coding framework. Reviewed and edited first draft of manuscript. CAW - Member of the multidisciplinary research team who attended regular meetings to advise on study methodology including analysis of data and helped shape coding framework. Reviewed and edited first draft of manuscript. RN - Member of the multidisciplinary research team who attended regular meetings to advise on study methodology including analysis of data and helped shape coding framework. Reviewed and edited first draft of manuscript. BLT - Member of the multidisciplinary research team who attended regular meetings to advise on study methodology including analysis of data and helped shape coding framework. Reviewed and edited first draft of manuscript. SS – Member of the Patient Advisory Group. Reviewed and edited first draft of manuscript. SJ - Member of the multidisciplinary research team who attended regular meetings to advise on study methodology including analysis of data and helped shape coding framework. Reviewed and edited first draft of manuscript. The author(s) read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Katherine Adlington .

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate.

Ethics approval was not required for this meta-synthesis. Any contributions by the Patient Advisory Group were anonymous and not reported directly as research findings.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

KA - No competing interests to be declared. CV - No competing interests to be declared. EP - No competing interests to be declared. CAW - No competing interests to be declared. RN - No competing interests to be declared. BLT - No competing interests to be declared. SS - No competing interests to be declared. SJ - No competing interests to be declared.

Additional information

Publisher’s note.

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Additional file 1: search strategy and table 1..

Free text and MeSH terms used for search in Ovid MEDLINE®.

Additional file 2: Table 2.

Extended table with full details and characteristics of included studies.

Additional file 3: Table 3.

Extended table of themes with comprehensive supporting primary data.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ . The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ ) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article.

Adlington, K., Vasquez, C., Pearce, E. et al. ‘Just snap out of it’ – the experience of loneliness in women with perinatal depression: a Meta-synthesis of qualitative studies. BMC Psychiatry 23 , 110 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-023-04532-2

Download citation

Received : 14 April 2022

Accepted : 06 January 2023

Published : 28 February 2023

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-023-04532-2

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

BMC Psychiatry

ISSN: 1471-244X

how to make research paper tables

share this!

February 24, 2023

How to perfect your prompt writing for ChatGPT, Midjourney and other AI generators

by Marcel Scharth, The Conversation

How to perfect your prompt writing for ChatGPT, Midjourney and other AI generators

How to perfect your prompt writing for ChatGPT, Midjourney and other AI generators

Art generators

A career of the future?

Explore further

Feedback to editors

how to make research paper tables

A new bioinspired earthworm robot for future underground exploration

2 hours ago

how to make research paper tables

Echo state graph neural networks with analogue random resistive memory arrays

how to make research paper tables

Almost all cobalt can be recycled using new method requiring less energy with little environmental impact

how to make research paper tables

A new approach to improve robot navigation in crowded environments

6 hours ago

how to make research paper tables

Taking the moisture out of moisturizers to reduce their carbon footprint and packaging waste

18 hours ago

how to make research paper tables

Responsive ankle exoskeleton algorithm handles changes in pace and gait

Feb 28, 2023

how to make research paper tables

Towards a new antenna paradigm with waveform-selective metasurfaces

how to make research paper tables

A new AI-based tool to detect DDoS attacks

how to make research paper tables

Predicting city traffic using a machine learning model

how to make research paper tables

Will future computers run on human brain cells?

Related stories.

how to make research paper tables

Commentary: Why using AI tools like ChatGPT in my MBA innovation course is expected and not cheating

Feb 15, 2023

how to make research paper tables

Here's what nobody is talking about when it comes to ChatGPT

Jan 24, 2023

how to make research paper tables

OpenAI announces Point-E, a machine learning system that quickly creates 3D images from a text prompt

Dec 21, 2022

how to make research paper tables

Five ways teachers can integrate ChatGPT into their classrooms today

Feb 20, 2023

how to make research paper tables

ChatGPT bot passes US law school exam

Jan 25, 2023

how to make research paper tables

ChatGPT offers unseen opportunities to sharpen students' critical skills

how to make research paper tables

Are our pets leaking information about us?

Feb 27, 2023

how to make research paper tables

Study examines AI application to 10 megatrends with GPT-3

how to make research paper tables

MWC mobile tech fair to show off new phones, AI, metaverse

Feb 25, 2023

Let us know if there is a problem with our content

Use this form if you have come across a typo, inaccuracy or would like to send an edit request for the content on this page. For general inquiries, please use our contact form . For general feedback, use the public comments section below (please adhere to guidelines ).

Please select the most appropriate category to facilitate processing of your request

Thank you for taking time to provide your feedback to the editors.

Your feedback is important to us. However, we do not guarantee individual replies due to the high volume of messages.

E-mail the story

Your email address is used only to let the recipient know who sent the email. Neither your address nor the recipient's address will be used for any other purpose. The information you enter will appear in your e-mail message and is not retained by Tech Xplore in any form.

Your Privacy

This site uses cookies to assist with navigation, analyse your use of our services, collect data for ads personalisation and provide content from third parties. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use .

E-mail newsletter

Press Release

Disposable paper cups market size, share, outlook and forecast to 2028.

The MarketWatch News Department was not involved in the creation of this content.

Mar 01, 2023 (The Expresswire) -- “ Disposable Paper Cups Market " Research Report 2023 is the professional market analysis study by 360 Research Reports surrounding growth opportunities and market expansion potential. The record breaks the market period through amount and value, mainly based on application, type, and geography. Similarly, the research also provides information on the top players associated with the Disposable Paper Cups market during the forecast period from 2023 to 2029.

Disposable Paper Cups Market Research Report is spread across 127 Pages and provides exclusive data, information, vital statistics, trends, and competitive landscape details in this niche sector.

Disposable Paper CupsMarket Size is projected to Reach Multimillion USD by 2029, In comparison to 2023, at unexpected CAGR during the forecast Period 2023-2029.

The Disposable Paper Cups market revenue was Million USD in 2016, grew to Million USD in 2020, and will reach Multi Million USD in 2028, with a Impressive CAGR during 2020-2028.

Final Report will add the analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on this industry.


COVID-19 can affect the global economy in three main ways: by directly affecting production and demand, by creating supply chain and market disruption, and by its financial impact on firms and financial markets. Our analysts monitoring the situation across the globe explains that the market will generate remunerative prospects for producers post COVID-19 crisis. The report aims to provide an additional illustration of the latest scenario, economic slowdown, and COVID-19 impact on the overall industry.

Get a Sample PDF of report - https://www.360researchreports.com/enquiry/request-sample/17677427#UTM_source=MWOliver

Chapter 3 focuses on analyzing the current competitive situation in the Disposable Paper Cups market and provides basic information, market data, product introductions, etc. of leading companies in the industry. At the same time, Chapter 3 includes the highlighted analysis--Strategies for Company to Deal with the Impact of COVID-19, Top Key Players are as follows :

● Groupo Phoenix ● Huhtamaki ● Dart Container ● Suzano ● Graphic Packaging ● Napco National ● Duni

Scope Of the Disposable Paper Cups Market:

The Global Disposable Paper Cups market is anticipated to rise at a considerable rate during the forecast period, between 2023 and 2029. In 2020, the market is growing at a steady rate and with the rising adoption of strategies by key players, the market is expected to rise over the projected horizon.

North America, especially The United States, will still play an important role which cannot be ignored. Any changes from United States might affect the development trend of Disposable Paper Cups. The market in North America is expected to grow considerably during the forecast period. The high adoption of advanced technology and the presence of large players in this region are likely to create ample growth opportunities for the market.

Europe also play important roles in global market, with a magnificent growth in CAGR During the Forecast period 2023-2029.

Disposable Paper Cups Market size is projected to reach Multimillion USD by 2029, In comparison to 2023, at unexpected CAGR during 2023-2029.

Despite the presence of intense competition, due to the global recovery trend is clear, investors are still optimistic about this area, and it will still be more new investments entering the field in the future.

This report focuses on the Disposable Paper Cups in global market, especially in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, South America, Middle East and Africa. This report categorizes the market based on manufacturers, regions, type and application.

Get a Sample Copy of the Disposable Paper Cups Market Report 2023

Report further studies the market development status and future Disposable Paper Cups Market trend across the world. Also, it splits Disposable Paper Cups market Segmentation by Type and by Applications to fully and deeply research and reveal market profile and prospects.

Chapter 4 provides breakdown data of different types of products, as well as market forecasts.

● Poly-Coated Paper ● Wax-Coated Paper ● Air Pocket Insulated ● Post-Consumer Fiber ● Sustainable

Different application fields have different usage and development prospects of products. Therefore, Chapter 5 provides subdivision data of different application fields and market forecasts.

● Food Service ● Food Retail

Chapters 7-26 focus on the regional market. We have selected the most representative 20 countries from ; 197 countries in the world and conducted a detailed analysis and overview of the market development of these countries.

This Disposable Paper Cups Market Research/Analysis Report Contains Answers to your following Questions

Our research analysts will help you to get customized details for your report, which can be modified in terms of a specific region, application or any statistical details. In addition, we are always willing to comply with the study, which triangulated with your own data to make the market research more comprehensive in your perspective.

Inquire more and share questions if any before the purchase on this report at - https://www.360researchreports.com/enquiry/pre-order-enquiry/17677427#UTM_source=MWOliver

Major Points from Table of Contents

Global Disposable Paper Cups Market Research Report 2023-2029, by Manufacturers, Regions, Types and Applications

1 Introduction 1.1 Objective of the Study 1.2 Definition of the Market 1.3 Market Scope 1.3.1 Market Segment by Type, Application and Marketing Channel 1.3.2 Major Regions Covered (North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Mid East and Africa) 1.4 Years Considered for the Study (2015-2029) 1.5 Currency Considered (U.S. Dollar) 1.6 Stakeholders 2 Key Findings of the Study 3 Market Dynamics 3.1 Driving Factors for this Market 3.2 Factors Challenging the Market 3.3 Opportunities of the Global Disposable Paper Cups Market (Regions, Growing/Emerging Downstream Market Analysis) 3.4 Technological and Market Developments in the Disposable Paper Cups Market 3.5 Industry News by Region 3.6 Regulatory Scenario by Region/Country 3.7 Market Investment Scenario Strategic Recommendations Analysis

4 Value Chain of the Disposable Paper Cups Market

4.1 Value Chain Status 4.2 Upstream Raw Material Analysis 4.3 Midstream Major Company Analysis (by Manufacturing Base, by Product Type) 4.4 Distributors/Traders 4.5 Downstream Major Customer Analysis (by Region) Get a Sample Copy of the Disposable Paper Cups Market Report 2023

5 Global Disposable Paper Cups Market-Segmentation by Type

6 Global Disposable Paper Cups Market-Segmentation by Application 7 Global Disposable Paper Cups Market-Segmentation by Marketing Channel

7.1 Traditional Marketing Channel (Offline) 7.2 Online Channel 8 Competitive Intelligence Company Profiles

9 Global Disposable Paper Cups Market-Segmentation by Geography

9.1 North America 9.2 Europe 9.3 Asia-Pacific 9.4 Latin America

9.5 Middle East and Africa 10 Future Forecast of the Global Disposable Paper Cups Market from 2023-2029

10.1 Future Forecast of the Global Disposable Paper Cups Market from 2023-2029 Segment by Region 10.2 Global Disposable Paper Cups Production and Growth Rate Forecast by Type (2023-2029) 10.3 Global Disposable Paper Cups Consumption and Growth Rate Forecast by Application (2023-2029) 11 Appendix 11.1 Methodology 12.2 Research Data Source


Purchase this report (Price 4000 USD for a single-user license) - https://www.360researchreports.com/purchase/17677427#UTM_source=MWOliver

360 Research Reports is the credible source for gaining the market reports that will provide you with the lead your business needs. At 360 Research Reports, our objective is providing a platform for many top-notch market research firms worldwide to publish their research reports, as well as helping the decision makers in finding most suitable market research solutions under one roof. Our aim is to provide the best solution that matches the exact customer requirements. This drives us to provide you with custom or syndicated research reports.

Contact Us: Web : https://360researchreports.com/ Email: [email protected] Organization: 360 Research Reports Phone: +44 20 3239 8187/ +14242530807

Who are the prominent manufacturers of Mortgage Outsourcing Industry?

Where are manufacturers anticipated to accrue Adhesive Films Market?

Who are the prominent manufacturers of Content Delivery Networks (CDN) Industry?

Smart Wearables in Healthcare Market Analysis 2022 : Dynamics, Players, Type, Applications, Trends, Regional Segmented, Outlook and Forecast till 2028 with Fastest Growing Companies Data

What is the anticipated growth for the Data Migration Services Industry over the forecast duration 2023-2029?

Press Release Distributed by The Express Wire

To view the original version on The Express Wire visit Disposable Paper Cups Market Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2028


Is there a problem with this press release? Contact the source provider Comtex at [email protected] . You can also contact MarketWatch Customer Service via our Customer Center .

Partner Center

Most popular.

Read full story

Lawmakers consider plan to raise Social Security’s full retirement age to 70

Read full story

Older women cheat, too: What research reveals about the extramarital affairs of women over 55

Read full story

Stocks and bonds are moving in tandem, something many investors have never seen before. Here’s a strategy for that.

Read full story

Life’s a beach for this Florida FIRE couple

Read full story

‘The risk of a deep housing slide persists’: Dallas Fed says downturn in U.S. and German housing markets could affect the rest of the world

Advertisement, search results, private companies, recently viewed tickers, no recent tickers.

Visit a quote page and your recently viewed tickers will be displayed here.


  1. Effective Use of Tables and Figures in Research Papers

    how to make research paper tables

  2. Full Research Paper Table Of Containts / Heklepinnes: Mla Format Research Paper Table Of

    how to make research paper tables

  3. Creating tables in scientific papers: basic formatting and titles

    how to make research paper tables

  4. Research Paper With Figures

    how to make research paper tables

  5. Table 3 from Writing a Scientific Paper Is Not Rocket Science!

    how to make research paper tables

  6. Literature review Table. how to write a research paper's review

    how to make research paper tables


  1. Researching and Creating Papers Part 2 Source Content Sheet

  2. Systematic Review Paper Template



  5. Multiple Bibliographies: LaTeX Make Simple

  6. Literature Review Preparation Creating a Summary Table


  1. APA Format for Tables and Figures

    Create your tables using the tools built into your word processor. In Word, you can use the " Insert table " tool. APA figure format Any images used within your text are called figures. Figures include data visualization graphics—e.g. graphs, diagrams, flowcharts—as well as things like photographs and artworks.

  2. APA Tables and Figures

    Relation of Tables or Figures and Text. Because tables and figures supplement the text, refer in the text to all tables and figures used and explain what the reader should look for when using the table or figure. Focus only on the important point the reader should draw from them, and leave the details for the reader to examine on their own.

  3. Creating tables in scientific papers: basic formatting and titles

    Creating tables in scientific papers: row and column titles, units, error values and sample sizes This is the second post in our series about creating and editing scientific tables. In the first post, we saw how basic table formatting and effective table titles could be used to improve an example of a poorly constructed table.

  4. Tables in your dissertation

    Table of contents Step 1. Decide where to insert a table Step 2. Create your table Example of a table in APA Style Step 3. Assign your table a number and title Step 4. Clarify your table with a note (optional) Step 5. Cite the table within the text Step 1. Decide where to insert a table Where should you add a table?

  5. Effective Use of Tables and Figures in Research Papers

    Tables are easily created using programs such as Excel. Tables and figures in scientific papers are wonderful ways of presenting data. Effective data presentation in research papers requires understanding your reader and the elements that comprise a table. Tables have several elements, including the legend, column titles, and body.

  6. PDF Making Journal-Quality Tables (and other useful hints!)

    zNumber tables consecutively throughout the text. Type or print each table on a separate page at the end of your paper. Insert a note in the text to indicate table placement zEach table must include a descriptive title and headings for all columns and rows (see recent journal issues for examples). zFor clarity, always use the same variable names in

  7. Figures and Charts

    They are also used to make a paper or article more readable by removing numeric or listed data from the text. Tables are typically used to present raw data, not when you want to show a relationship between variables. Figures are visual presentations of results. They come in the form of graphs, charts, drawings, photos, or maps.

  8. Designing Successful Tables & Figures for Your Research Paper

    Use terms and abbreviations that match exactly those used for the same concepts, categories and measures in the paper and in its other tables and figures. Make sure that all words are visible and legible, and not obscured or crowded by other elements of the table or figure.

  9. Formatting tables and figures in your research paper

    Formatting tables and figures in your research paper Steve Kirk 10.1K subscribers Subscribe 2.2K Share 305K views 8 years ago This video covers how to format tables and figures properly...

  10. Sample tables

    Sample results of several t tests table. Sample correlation table. Sample analysis of variance (ANOVA) table. Sample factor analysis table. Sample regression table. Sample qualitative table with variable descriptions. Sample mixed methods table. These sample tables are also available as a downloadable Word file (DOCX, 37KB).

  11. How to use figures in a research paper and why they are important

    Including too many figures can make your paper illegible and affect the readers' understanding. Although there is no restriction, on average, it is suggested that a research paper include no more than 5 tables and no more than 8 figures. It might depend on the journal's publishing requirements. Check them before editing your paper.

  12. Your Guide to Creating Effective Tables and Figures in Research Papers

    The first step in deciding how you want to use tables and figures in your research paper is to review the requirements outlined by your chosen style guide or the submission requirements for the journal or publication you will be submitting to.

  13. How to Make APA Format Tables and Figures

    This research paper on How to Make APA Format Tables and Figures Using Microsoft Word was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly . Removal Request

  14. Quick Steps to Nice Looking Statistical Tables for Research Papers

    This describes the very simple steps for creating some very nice-looking tables for your research papers. I won't claim this is the only way to do it, but th...

  15. Tips on effective use of tables and figures in research papers

    You might be interested in checking out this insightful course: Create effective tables for your research paper Bibliography 1. Council of Science Editors. Journal Style and Format. In Council of Science Editors (Eds.), Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 7th Edition (p. 460).

  16. How to make a scientific table

    This section teaches you all you need to know on how to make a scientific table to include in your research paper. The proper table format is extremely basic and straightforward to accomplish, here's a simple guideline to help you: Number: If you have more than one table, number them sequentially (Table 1, Table 2…).

  17. Table setup

    Placement of tables in a paper. There are two options for the placement of tables (and figures) in a paper. The first is to embed tables in the text after each is first mentioned (or "called out"); the second is to place each table on a separate page after the reference list. An embedded table may take up an entire page; if the table is ...

  18. How to Format a Table

    One of the best ways to do this is by including relevant data in a table, presenting your findings in an easily digested format. For any scientist, knowing how to format a table is an essential skill for writing any research paper.

  19. Using Research & Synthesis Tables

    This is an example of a research table, in which you provide a basic description of the most important features of the studies, articles, and other items you discover in your research.The table identifies each item according to its author/date of publication, its purpose or thesis, what type of work it is (systematic review, clinical trial, etc.), the level of evidence it represents (which ...

  20. Five tips for developing useful literature summary tables for writing

    Literature reviews offer a critical synthesis of empirical and theoretical literature to assess the strength of evidence, develop guidelines for practice and policymaking, and identify areas for future research.1 It is often essential and usually the first task in any research endeavour, particularly in masters or doctoral level education. For effective data extraction and rigorous synthesis ...

  21. How to Read a Research Table

    The EPIC study found a relative risk of breast cancer of 1.07, with a 95% CI of 0.96 to 1.19. In the table, you will see 1.07 (0.96-1.19). Women in the EPIC study who drank 1-2 drinks per day had a 7 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who did not drink alcohol. The 95% CI of 0.96 to 1.19 includes 1.0.

  22. Skimming Articles for Research: A How-To

    Let's say you've followed one or both of the steps explained above. If what you find seems promising, start skimming the main text. Focus on the first and last sentences of each paragraph, and any bolded or italicized sentences. As you skim you should also pay attention to tables, charts, or graphics to get a quick sense of what's going ...

  23. Table and Figures in Research Papers

    Choose between tables and figures in research papers If the numbers have a pattern—if your data are telling a story—it is better to use a graph so that readers can take in that pattern at a glance. However, then you cannot show the exact values of the variable you measured.

  24. Research Paper Graph: How to insert Graphs, Tables & Figures

    Once you create the table in the excel sheet, copy-paste them on the center page of your research paper. More importantly, ensure that you reference it well. Avoid text wrapping in this case. Set your table apart from the text. 2) Infographics You can make your research finding more engaging by collecting your data and reporting it in infographics.

  25. A bibliometric analysis of research on tourism content marketing

    DOI: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e13487 Corpus ID: 256606162; A bibliometric analysis of research on tourism content marketing: Background knowledge and thematic evolution @article{BinhNguyen2023ABA, title={A bibliometric analysis of research on tourism content marketing: Background knowledge and thematic evolution}, author={Phuong Minh Binh Nguyen and Xuan Lan Pham and Giang Nu To Truong}, journal ...

  26. 'Just snap out of it'

    The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) qualitative research checklist was used by two independent researchers to assign each paper a quality score (KA 100% and CV 10% of papers) (see Table 3) [48, 49]. There was 93% agreement on the quality scores of the 10% of papers that both researchers scored and agreement was reached on all papers ...

  27. How to perfect your prompt writing for ChatGPT, Midjourney and other AI

    Detailed faces. - - ar 3:2 - - no glasses. If you want a longer piece, you can generate it in steps. Start with the first few paragraphs and ask ChatGPT to continue in the next prompt. If you're unsatisfied with a specific portion, you can ask for it to be rewritten according to new instructions. But remember: no matter how much you ...

  28. Disposable Paper Cups Market Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2028

    Europe also play important roles in global market, with a magnificent growth in CAGR During the Forecast period 2023-2029. Disposable Paper Cups Market size is projected to reach Multimillion USD ...