Create a table of contents in Microsoft Word

  1. A few simple steps will help you create an easy-to-navigate document
  2. Step 1 Apply styles to the document
  3. Step 2: Insert a table of contents
  4. Step 3: Update the content
  5. Step 4: Using and Customizing the Table of Contents

A few simple steps will help you create an easy-to-navigate document

Microsoft Word has a great built-in ability to quickly create a table of contents that can be instantly updated to reflect additions and changes to your document. A table of contents can serve as both a guide and a navigational aid within a document, helping readers quickly find the information they need.

The easiest way to create and maintain a table of contents is to use styles in the document; When you insert a table of contents into Microsoft Word, text marked with the specified styles is automatically displayed in the table in the order that the text appears in the document. In this article, you will learn how to insert a table of contents in Microsoft Word 2016, 2013, and 2010 – the process is not much different between Mac and Windows versions.

Word Online doesn’t let you insert a table of contents, but it does keep it in the document where it already exists.

Step 1 Apply styles to the document

tab At home Microsoft Word includes the Styles toolkit, which is essential for creating a document into which a table of contents can be easily inserted. Heading 1 is the highest content level by default. Heading 2 is a subheading indented in the table of contents.

If you are writing new text to add to the table of contents, select Header 1 (for main topics) or Cup 2 (for subtopics). When you’re done writing headlines, when you choose Input your text will default back to the normal style of your main text. The Normal style does not appear in the table of contents.

Style panel to set headings for automatic table of contents”
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Perhaps you are working on a document that has already been written and need to add a table of contents, but you want to keep the document’s font and formatting. If you want to set up automatic headings to match what’s already used in existing documents, you can do that in two steps. First select the title or subtitle text and then in the panel Style right click on the desired title and select Update header 1 to match the selection

Heading 1 now matches the existing font, size, and formatting of the text you selected, and the style can now be applied to the entire document. The same steps can be used to update any of the preset styles – style changes using this method are saved only for the current document. Using heading styles gives your document consistent structure and formatting, not to mention the benefits of adding a table of contents quickly.

Step 2: Insert a table of contents

To insert a table of contents into a document that already uses heading styles, follow these steps.

This process works for versions of Microsoft Word from 2003 on Mac and Windows.

  1. Place the cursor where you want the table of contents in the document.

  2. Go to the tab Left Remark: † For Word 2003 and earlier, you must select: Insert Directory Tables and Indexes and then click Index

  3. Click Index is located in the Table of Contents group.

  4. Select one of the “automatic” content style sheets from the list.

Your table of contents is now inserted into your Word document. Heading 1 styles are listed above while Heading 2 styles are listed as subheadings. Your table of contents title is determined by default, but you can update it by clicking on it and inserting your own text.

Step 3: Update the content

The advantage of using heading styles to generate an automatic table of contents is that it can be instantly updated to reflect changes. To update content, click on it and select Update table

You then have the choice: update the entire table of contents (text and page numbers) or only adjust the page numbers. When you apply heading styles that are automatically included, you must update the entire table to reflect any text or page changes in the document.

Step 4: Using and Customizing the Table of Contents

The automatic table of contents has built-in hyperlinks for quick document navigation. To use a hyperlink, hover over the appropriate table of contents item and click Control+Click to follow the link. This is a very useful tool for long document readers.

There are also many ways to customize the content. The font and size can be adjusted by highlighting the text as you normally would in a Word document and then using the Home tab to select the font, size, color, etc. More options to customize the table of contents are available from Change field by right-clicking on the table of contents text.

With the Field menu open, scroll down the list on the left to select Contents and then click Index to access more editing options.

The table of contents window offers several options, including:

  • Show/hide page numbers and determine their alignment

  • Change tab path to periods, dashes or spaces

  • Specify the number of levels of heading styles to display in the table of contents

  • Ability to use hyperlinks instead of page numbers, including a preview of what the document will look like

Click parameters: in the Table of Contents menu to assign a content level to specific headings. The default value corresponds to the heading number – for example, Heading 1 = Level 1 – but you can change this if you don’t use every heading or prefer the formatting of one heading over the other because it doesn’t suit your needs.

Styles allow you to quickly insert a table of contents with the ability to modify it to your liking and instantly update it if needed. Consistently applying formatting to your document will also give you a professional, consistent look.

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