How to Create a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word
Long documents can be overwhelming for both the writer and the reader. This week, our Microassist Software Tips tutorial shows you how to create a table of contents for your long Word documents, helping both you and your readers navigate your work.
If you often work with long documents, don’t miss Split Window View: Work with Two Sections of the Same Word Document at Once.
Using Headings to Designate Sections of Your Document
Before you create a table of contents for your document, it’s important to separate your content into small, easily consumable sections. Each section should focus on one or two concepts. This will allow you to provide clear, focused, and concise explanations. Readers appreciate when they can identify when you’re moving to a new concept. Once you’ve identified your sections, you can create your table of contents. An automatically generated table will show the page number where each section begins.
Word 2013 builds your table of contents based on the headings you identify with heading styles. A style is a predefined combination of font attributes, including color and size, that can be applied to any text in your document. To apply a heading style, highlight the text you want to be your heading. Then choose the desired heading option in the Styles group on the Home tab. Heading 1 is usually for your main title, and Heading 2 and Heading 3 are for your subheadings.
After applying headings throughout your document, you are ready to create your table of contents in Microsoft Word.
Inserting a Table of Contents Based on Headings
To insert a table of contents:
- Insert a blank page at the top of your document. To do this, place your cursor at the beginning of your text and select Ctrl + Enter.
- Select the References tab on the ribbon.
- In the Table of Contents group, click the Table of Contents button:
- The first two Automatic Table options will use your headings to create the table of contents. The Manual Table allows you to manually identify each section regardless of the heading content. Choose the option that works best for your document.
Your table of contents will appear on the blank page you added to the beginning of your document. Now both you and your readers can quickly determine which page to navigate to from your table of contents.
NOTE: Be sure to update your table of contents anytime you make changes to your headings. Doing so is quite simple: Right-click anywhere in the table and select Update Field from the menu. You can choose to update only the page numbers (for instance, if you added content to a section) or you can update the entire table. You’ll need to do the latter if you’ve changed heading names or added new headings.
Additional Productivity Resources
- To learn about upcoming classes on Word, please visit our Course Schedule page.
- To schedule a custom class for any Microsoft application on your organization’s campus, please contact our Training Team.
- Finally, be sure to look through our other Software Tips for more on Microsoft Office!