Image source: Flickr user Simon Cunningham.

Dividend investing can add significantly to returns over a lifetime, so beginner investors are right to want to own some dividend-paying stocks in their portfolios. However, knowing which dividend-paying stock is the right one to buy may be daunting, so we've asked our top Motley Fool contributors to weigh in with some of their favorite dividend stock picks. 

Todd Campbell: Dividend-paying stocks can add significantly to returns over the long haul, but beginning investors should remember that a high dividend doesn't necessarily mean a good investment.

Plenty of stocks offer enticing dividend yields, but have businesses that are floundering, and because of that, it makes more sense to focus on the health of a company first and the dividend yield second. Using that approach, one of my favorite dividend-paying stocks is Microsoft (MSFT -0.68%).

The company's Windows 10 has been installed on more than 100 million devices (and climbing) and deep integration of other profit-friendly services, such as Bing, offer up significant tailwinds exiting the holiday sales season. Additionally, the company's laser-focus on cloud solutions and cross-platform software sales solidifies its standing as a Goliath in business productivity.

Even better, with about $100 billion in cash on the books, Microsoft boasts one of the best balance sheets out there, and a reasonable forward P/E ratio of just 17.7 means that investors aren't paying up too much to buy shares. Given the company's business and finances are solid and its shares yield a healthy 2.6%, this could be an excellent dividend stock for beginning investors to own.

Tyler Crowe: For investors that are looking for their first dividend stock in the energy & materials space, Exxonmobil (XOM 0.40%) is a great place to start. Its vertically integrated business model helps to offset the cyclical nature of the oil and gas industry. When oil prices are high, its production business segment does well while typically its refining and retail segments suffer and vice versa when oil prices are low.

But the company doesn't just lean on this model for its success, the company also one of the most disciplined capital allocators in the energy space. Unlike others that plow tons of money back into the business during the boom times and then go to skeleton budgets when cash flows are scarce, Exxonmobil consistently invests through the commodity cycle. It may not soar in the boom times, but it is almost always better positioned to handle the downturn. This disciplined approach keeps its balance sheet in pretty good shape and has given the company a credit rating better than the US Treasury.

Add all these things up, and you get a company that has the ability to consistently pay an ever increasing dividend. For an investor looking for their first foray into energy dividends, Exxonmobil is a great place to start. 

Andres Cardenal: Beginning dividend investors typically want to play it safe by investing in well-known dividend stocks with a proven track-record of dividend payments over the long term. With this in mind, a rock-solid dividend powerhouse such as Procter & Gamble (PG -0.50%) could be a smart choice for those giving their first steps in dividend investing.

The company owns 21 different brands making over $1 billion each in global annual revenue, this includes household names such as Pampers, Charmin, Oral-B, and Ariel, among many others. Procter & Gamble sells mostly everyday necessities, and this provides stability to the company's sales and cash flows through good and bad economic times.

The company is restructuring its portfolio of brands in order to better focus on the most profitable names with superior potential for growth. In addition, P&G is embarked on an ambitious cost-cutting project, and management estimates it's on track to delivering $7 billion in cost savings by the end of 2015.

Procter & Gamble one of the strongest trajectories of dividend payments around, the company has paid uninterrupted dividends for 125 years, and it has increased payments over the last 59 years on a row. Procter & Gamble's dividend yield stands at around 3.4% versus current prices.