Make table of contents in Word using heading styles

When you have a rather big document with chapters and sub-chapters I’m sure you wouldn’t want to waste time by making a big table of contents manually. So to make it easier for you I will show you how to make table of contents in Word in an automatic way and also how to update it with just two clicks.

First thing you need to know is that to make Table of Contents you have to use Heading styles for your titles and subtitles. If you haven’t used them already, no works with regular text too and I will show you that later on. Try to use heading styles from now on because it greatly simplifies your work.

Make the titles and subtitles as heading styles

First thing to do before we make table of contents that is if you haven’t done it already, is to give a heading style to titles (chapters) and subtitles (sub-chapters) of the document.

As you may probably already know, when you want to give some text a heading style, you select it and then go to Home tab, search for the Styles group and then click on the heading that you want.

But what if you like some other style from there that is not a heading and want it to be Heading 1 instead of the default one?  It’s pretty easy…you just have to select the text and give it the style you liked, then right click on the Heading 1 and then click on Update Heading 1 to Match Selection. Heading 1 style will now have the appearance of the one you liked.

Make table of contents based on heading styles

Let’s say you have a document with Titles as Heading 1 and subtitles as Heading 2.

1. To make Table of Contents you must click on the page where you want to insert it and then go to References tab and click on Table of contents from the group with the same name. You will see some templates that you can use if they seem OK to you.

2. If you want a custom format, then click on Insert Table of Contents. In the window that appeared you have a Print Preview and a Web Preview. The Print Preview is for the classic reader therefore it has an option to show page numbers so it can turn the pages of the printed document to the ones that he wants to read. Web preview is for the readers on different devices like laptops, e-readers and other, that’s why it has the option to make hyperlinks out of the elements of the Table of Contents so that the readers can click on them to reach certain pages.

Make table of contents in Word - Insert Table of Contents

3. From the Tab Leader drop down box you can choose the aspect of the line that unites the contents with the page numbers and below it, you can choose a predefined format and how many levels should the Table of Contents have. In our case it will only have 2.

So I chose a Distinctive format and 2 levels.

4. If you click Options, in the window that appeared you have the possibility to make table of contents based on custom styles and you can choose the ones that you used in your document, even if not headings, by filling in the boxes with the level that you want them to have. Of course level 1 will be the title, level 2 the subtitle and so on.

There are also the options to build the Table of Contents based on outline levels or table entry fields which I will explain in future articles.

Insert regular text into Table of Contents

If, let’s say, you want to make some ordinary text a title or subtitle and include it into the Table Of contents, even if it doesn’t have any heading style, follow the steps:

1. Select the text, go to the References tab and click on Add Text from the Table of Contents group.

2. Select the level that you want the text to have, either to be a title or subtitle and so on.

Make table of contents in Word - Table of Contents

Update or delete the Table of Contents

If you have already introduced a Table of Contents into your document but you are still adding pages with titles and subtitle you might want to update the Table of Contents without doing it manually.

For this, there is an option called Update Table which can be found in the Table of contents group, on the References tab. In here, you also have two options: either you update only page numbers if they are the only ones that have changed and not titles or subtitles or update the entire table if you know you added pages with new titles and subtitles.

To delete the table of Contents, go to the same references tab and click on the Table of Contents in the group with the same name and then click Remove Table of Contents.

This is not all on how to make Table of Contents in Word because there can be other situations like when you want to make more tables of contents or when you don’t want to display the number of pages for some subtitles. I will explain these situations in future articles.

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