How to Create Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

Calvince Nyawara

Are you writing up a long document? Make sure you take the reading experience of your viewers into consideration with Microsoft Word.

 

Most readers dislike having to scroll through pages of information to find one piece of material. By simply adding a section for your content, you can make a much more appealing document.

 

Learn how to use Microsoft Word to insert a table of contents section into your document. Word makes managing your ToC easy and keeps the section updated as you edit your titles.

 

Why should you use a table of contents?

 

Whether you’re writing a report or a personal journal, being able to jump to specific sections can be a huge time saver.

 

Adding a table of contents section can make navigating your document much easier. This applies to both you and your readers. 

 

They can find what they're looking for, making your document leave a better impression. Likewise, you're able to jump between sections and make edits without having to skim through your entire file.

 

Don’t set yourself back by scrolling up and down your document to scan for a headline. Just add a table of contents instead. This article focuses on how to create a table of contents in Microsoft Word in a few easy steps.

 

Implementing this section into your documents brings many benefits. Here are some things that make the table of contents a necessity in most Word documents:

 

  • Give viewers an overview of your document. The table of contents should always be at the very beginning of your document. It gives readers a great overview of what to expect while reading.
  • Make your document look more professional. Don't neglect how your document looks. If you're looking to use a file in a business or school setting, the table of contents is essential. With a ToC included, any critical reader will see that you took the time to polish your document.
  • Organize your headings more efficiently. Having a table of contents may even help you create better headings. Start to think of interesting and accurate titles for your sections. Make sure your titles will intrigue future viewers when glancing over your content. See where you need to change up the order of sections to create a better flow.
  • Create easier discussion for readers. The table of contents makes it easy for people to navigate and discuss your document. Each heading is a great point of reference. Your readers can refer to these when talking about sections in your files.

 

Before starting: Format your document

 

To be able to insert a table of contents in Word, the software relies on the formatting in your document. For example, use premade styles such as Heading 1 and Heading 2. These allow Word to generate a table of contents that keeps updated with your changes.

 

Format headings by selecting them with your cursor, then open the Home tab and click Styles. Here, select the heading style you want and you're all set.

 

1. Make a table of contents in Word for Windows

insert table of content in word

 

After formatting your document in a way that Word can detect your headings, you may proceed to generate a table of contents by following the next steps.

 

  1. In your document, place the blinking cursor where you want the table of contents to appear. You can dedicate an entire page to it by entering a page break (Ctrl + Enter) before and after the table of contents.
  2. Go to the References tab from the Ribbon on top of your window.
  3. Click on the Table of Contents group. A drop-down menu will appear where you can select an automatic style or manual style to use.
  4. To customize your table of contents, select the Custom table of contents option. Edit the fonts, colors, and level of headings here.

 

2. Make a table of contents in Word for Mac

create table of content on Mac

 

Mac users can easily make a table of contents by utilizing proper formatting and following the steps below.

 

  1. In your document, place the blinking cursor where you want the table of contents to appear. You can dedicate an entire page to it by entering a page break (command + Enter) before and after the table of contents.
  2. Go to the References tab from the Ribbon on top of your window.
  3. Click on the Table of Contents group. A drop-down menu will appear where you can select an automatic style or manual style to use.
  4. To customize your table of contents, select the Custom table of contents option. Edit the fonts, colors, and level of headings here.

 

3. Make a table of contents in Word for Web

 

At the time of writing, there’s no way to insert a table of contents using Word for Web. However, you can format a document online, then open it in the desktop version of Word by clicking on the Open in Desktop app button from the Ribbon.

 

Once you’ve imported the document you made in Word for Web into the desktop version of Word, use the appropriate guide for your system to generate a table of contents.

 

4. How to update the table of contents

 

There are two ways to keep your table of contents updated, depending on which style you chose when you were creating it. The steps are the same for all platforms, making the process streamlined for all users. Simply follow the steps below according to your table of contents style.

 

Update Automatic table of contents

 

When working with an automatic table of contents, Word is able to keep everything updated for you on demand. This makes things more flexible, allowing you to make last-minute changes without having to worry about updating things one by one.

 

  1. Go to the References tab in your Ribbon, then choose the Update Table option. Alternatively, you can right-click on your table of contents inside the document and choose Update Table from there.
    reference tab
  2. A new window will appear with two options. Select which one works best for you:
    1. Update page numbers only: Only update the pages that the headings are located on.
    2. Update the entire table: Update all changes to heading text, as well as any page changes and then click the OK button.
      update table of content

 

Update Manual table of contents

 

As the name suggests, a table of contents created with the Manual option has to be updated by you. Simply click inside the table and make any edits yourself.

 

5. How to remove a table of content

 

Removing the table of contents in your document can be done in two easy steps on all platforms.

 

  1. Select the table of contents by clicking on it.
  2. Open the down arrow menu and choose Remove table of contents.

 

how to remove table of content

Having a professional touch ensures your readers have a better time looking through your document. If your document is well-organized, you can share it with confidence knowing you’ll leave a good impression.

 

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