One of the most well-known facts about investing is that dividend-paying stocks outperform non-dividend-paying stocks in the long term. This means that every long-term investor should own at least one dividend-paying stock, and in some cases, a diversified portfolio full of them. With this in mind, let’s take a look at three of the top dividend-paying stocks that you should consider investing in today.

1. Transcontinental Inc.: 3.9% yield

Transcontinental Inc. (TSX:TCL.A) is Canada’s largest printer, with operations in print and digital media, publishing, and flexible packaging. It pays a quarterly dividend of $0.17 per share, or $0.68 per share annually, giving its stock a bountiful 3.9% yield at current levels. The company also has one of the most impressive track records of raising its annual dividend payment, with an active streak of 13 consecutive years of increases. I think this makes it one of the best dividend plays in the market today.

2. Bank of Nova Scotia: 4.3% yield

Bank of Nova Scotia (TSX:BNS)(NYSE:BNS) is the third-largest bank in Canada in terms of total assets, and it pays a quarterly dividend of $0.68 per share, or $2.72 per share annually, which gives its stock a very high 4.3% yield at today’s levels. Like Transcontinental, Bank of Nova Scotia has been actively increasing its dividend in order to maximize shareholder returns, with its streak currently at five consecutive years, and its consistent free cash flow generation could allow this streak to continue for many more years.

3. Canadian Natural Resources Limited: 2.3% yield

Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSX:CNQ)(NYSE:CNQ) is one of the largest independent crude oil and natural gas producers in the world, and it pays a quarterly dividend of $0.23 per share, or $0.92 per share annually, which gives its stock a 2.3% yield at current levels. Canadian Natural has the lowest yield of the three companies named in this article, but it is very important to note that it has increased its annual dividend for 15 consecutive years, showing that it is strongly dedicated to maximizing shareholder returns. This fact sets it apart as one of the top dividend-growth plays in the energy sector today.

Which of these top dividend stocks belong in your portfolio?

Transcontinental, Bank of Nova Scotia, and Canadian Natural Resources represent three of the market’s top dividend investment opportunities. Long-term investors should take a closer look and strongly consider establishing positions in at least one of them today.

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Fool contributor Joseph Solitro has no position in any stocks mentioned.