Quick Reference: How to create a Table of Contents1 Apply the built-in Heading styles to the headings in your text.

2 Insert > Reference > Tables and Indexes. Click on the Table of Contents Tab. Click OK.

Creating a table of contents in a Microsoft Word document is a two-step process. First, identify the text that you want to appear in the Table of Contents. Second, tell Word to insert the Table of Contents. Having created your Table of Contents, you can then customize it in several ways, to suit your needs.

Step 1: Identify the text that you want to appear in the Table of Contents

In your document, click within the first major heading that you want to appear in the Table of Contents. Apply the Heading 1 style to that paragraph. The easiest way to apply the Heading 1 style is to click the Style box on the Formatting toolbar and choose Heading 1. If clicking the Style box doesn’t appeal to you, there are several other ways to apply a style.

In the same way, apply the Heading 1 style to other major headings in your document. Apply the Heading 2 style to sub-headings, Heading 3 style to sub-sub-headings etc.

If you don’t like the way the heading styles look (eg, you want a different font or font size or colour), don’t format the text directly. Instead, modify the heading styles.

Step 2: Create the Table of Contents

Click where you want your Table of Contents to appear.

In Microsoft Word 2002 and 2003, choose Insert > Reference > Index and Tables. Click on the Table of Contents tab. (Elsewhere on this page, this is called the Table of Contents dialog.) Click OK.

In earlier versions of Word, choose Insert > Index and Tables. Click on the Table of Contents tab. (Elsewhere on this page, this is called the Table of Contents dialog.) Click OK.

Step 3: Customize the Table of Contents (if you need to)

Once you have applied your Heading styles, choose View > Document Map. You can now see roughly what will be included in your Table of Contents.

Right-click in the Document Map to choose which levels of heading to view.

  • If you don’t like the way your headings look (eg you want a different font, font size, colour, more or less spacing before or after the heading), don’t choose Format > Paragraph or Format > Font. And don’t use the font size or bold buttons on the toolbar. Instead, modify the Heading style.
  • To change the font, font size, colour etc used to create the Table of Contents itself, you need to do two things in the Table of Contents dialog. First, make sure that, in the Formats box, you have chosen “From Template”. Second, click Modify and modify the relevant TOC style. Word uses style TOC 1 for the top level of contents, TOC 2 for the next level etc.
  • By default, Word shows three levels in your Table of Contents. That is, it puts the text from Heading 1, Heading 2 and Heading 3 in the Table of Contents. If you want to show more or fewer levels, in the Table of Contents dialog, change the number in the Show levels box.
  • There are very good reasons for using the built-in Heading styles. But if you really need to use other styles (other built-in styles, or custom styles), you can put them in your Table of Contents. In the Table of Contents dialog, click Options, and allocate your style(s) to the appropriate level(s).
  • For sophisticated customization, you can edit the switches in the TOC field.
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