Cochrane Style Manual

In this section: Headings in Cochrane Review text | Headings in Cochrane Review tables

Headings in Cochrane Review text

Some predefined headings are automatically included in the review and cannot be removed or altered (e.g. ‘Background’). The formats of the different heading levels are shown below in Heading levels available in Review Manager 5.

Some sections of Review Manager 5 (RevMan 5), such as 'Data collection and analysis', have predefined subheadings that authors should generally use in those sections (optional subheadings). These can be activated or deactivated manually; for example, 'Selection of studies' can be activated under 'Data collection and analysis'.

Predefined headings should be used where appropriate (rather than free-text equivalents), and any headings that are not predefined need to be styled using the drop-down heading styles (see Heading levels available in Review Manager 5). The headings in reviews that are being updated should be adjusted to meet this format if they do not comply with it initially (this will ensure that the rendering of the reviews on the Cochrane Library looks good, and is consistent within and across reviews).

Authors can also insert author-defined headings (i.e. not one of the predefined subheadings). These headings should use sentence case (i.e. only the first letter of the first word in upper-case) and the section text should start on the next line. The next available heading style from the pull-down list in the tool bar should be applied to the heading; for example, Heading level 1 is used for 'Background', and users would then apply Heading level 2 for the first author-defined subheading used in this section.

There is no need to insert a blank line between a heading and a subheading because the software automatically inserts a space.

Heading levels available in Review Manager 5

Heading level


Fixed or optional



Fixed (e.g. 'Background', 'Methods')


Criteria for considering studies for this review

Fixed (e.g. 'Criteria for considering studies for this review') or Optional (e.g. 'Description of the condition')


Types of outcome measures

Fixed (e.g. 'Types of studies') or Optional (e.g. 'Searching other resources')


Primary outcomes

Optional (e.g. 'Primary outcomes')


Heading 5

Optional (user-defined)


Heading 6

Optional (user-defined)

Headings in Cochrane Review tables

See Tables

Section info
Describe change
Subheadings available in 'Data collection and analysis' and other sections: guidance changed to say that authors should generally choose to use the available 'optional subheadings' in these sections (i.e. their use is expected, unless it is inappropriate).