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Using \chapter I get:

Chapter 1. The meaning of this novel
Chapter 2. The plot of this novel
Chapter 3. The moral of this novel

I want to get instead:

1. The meaning of this novel
2. The plot of this novel
3. The moral of this novel

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have you looked at the titlesec package? –  cmhughes Jul 7 '12 at 16:21
1  
Would placing this at the end of your document header help? \makeatletter\def\chaptername{\@ifnextchar\ \@gobble\relax}\makeatother –  tohecz Jul 7 '12 at 16:37
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3 Answers

The absolute easiest way to get rid of the word Chapter is to use the corresponding book or report-classes from the Komascript-bundle. The classes scrbook and scrreprt have your preferred type of headings as standard. A minimal working example:

\documentclass{scrbook}
\usepackage{blindtext}
\begin{document}
\tableofcontents
\blinddocument

\appendix
\blinddocument

\end{document}

That is, you just replace

\documentclass{book}

with

\documentclass{scrbook}
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Chapters inside the standard book and report document classes have their headings constructed via \@makechapterhead:

\def\@makechapterhead#1{%
  \vspace*{50\p@}%                                 % Insert 50pt (vertical) space
  {\parindent \z@ \raggedright \normalfont         % No paragraph indent, ragged right
    \ifnum \c@secnumdepth >\m@ne                   % If you should number chapters
      \if@mainmatter                               % ... and you're in \mainmatter
        \huge\bfseries \@chapapp\space \thechapter % huge, bold, Chapter + number
        \par\nobreak                               % paragraph break without page break
        \vskip 20\p@                               % Insert 20pt (vertical) space
      \fi
    \fi
    \interlinepenalty\@M                           % Penalty
    \Huge \bfseries #1\par\nobreak                 % Huge, bold chapter title
    \vskip 40\p@                                   % Insert 40pt (vertical) space
  }}

In order to get rid of some of this titling in the chapter heading (yet keep the ToC untouched), redefine the above \@makechapterhead to your liking. For example, the following redefinition removes the reference to "Chapter", and also places the title next to the number. I've included it in the form of a minimal working example:

enter image description here

\documentclass{book}
\usepackage{lipsum}% http://ctan.org/pkg/lipsum
\makeatletter
\def\@makechapterhead#1{%
  \vspace*{50\p@}%
  {\parindent \z@ \raggedright \normalfont
    \ifnum \c@secnumdepth >\m@ne
      \if@mainmatter
        %\huge\bfseries \@chapapp\space \thechapter
        \Huge\bfseries \thechapter.\space%
        %\par\nobreak
        %\vskip 20\p@
      \fi
    \fi
    \interlinepenalty\@M
    \Huge \bfseries #1\par\nobreak
    \vskip 40\p@
  }}
\makeatother
\begin{document}
\tableofcontents
\chapter{The meaning of this novel}\lipsum[1-100]
\chapter{The plot of this novel}\lipsum[1-100]
\chapter{The moral of this novel}\lipsum[1-100]
\end{document}

lipsum provided some dummy text, Lorem Ipsum style.

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Assuming you're using the book or report document class (or a document class that loads either one of these classes), you could achieve your objective by loading the following code -- which is mostly a quick adaptation of the code for the macro \@makeschapterhead (for unnumbered or "starred" chapter headings) in book.cls -- in your document's preamble:

\makeatletter
\def\@makechapterhead#1{%
  \vspace*{50\p@}%
  {\parindent \z@ \raggedright \normalfont
    \interlinepenalty\@M
    \Huge\bfseries  \thechapter.\quad #1\par\nobreak
    \vskip 40\p@
  }}
\makeatother

Note that the default amounts of vertical whitespace above and below the chapter header are 50pt and 40pt, respectively. Feel free to change these settings to suit your needs.

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