Create a table of contents

Before you create a table of contents, be sure you've used paragraphs with outline levels. Word will use the outline levels to generate the table of contents automatically.

The easiest way to achieve this is to use the built-in heading styles, which have outline levels configured automatically. If you choose to create custom heading styles, be sure to configure the paragraph format, Outline level, for your styles.

To create a table of contents:

  1. Click where you want the table of contents to appear.
  2. Choose Insert → Reference ? Index and Tables.
  3. Click the Table of Contents tab.

    Index and Tables dialog box - Table of Contents

  4. Click OK.

The table of contents is a series of fields. It will typically appear on screen with a gray background. The gray background will not appear when you print the document.

Unlike some fields, you can actually edit the results of the fields. If, for example, you want to remove a specific item from the table, you can do so. You can also modify the text for an entry.

To remove an entry from the table of contents, drag backwards to select it. Start with the page number and drag to the right to select the entry. Then press Delete.

Because the table is a series of fields, it can be updated easily as content is moved in your document. But like all fields in Word, the field will not update automatically.

To update the table of contents:

  1. Right-click the table of contents and choose Update Field.
  2. In the Update Table of Contents dialog box, choose Update page numbers only or Update entire table.

    Update Table of Contents dialog box

    • Update page numbers only reevaluates the document for each item in the table of contents and updates the page number. It does not add new headings. This option is typically used when you have manually modified the table of contents (deleting entries or modifying the text of an entry).
    • Update entire table rebuilds the entire table of contents based on the configuration you specified when you created it. New headings will be added, deleted content will be removed. Any manual changes you made to the table will be lost.
    If content in your document has been deleted, and that content had appeared in the table of contents, you will not get a choice. The entire table will be updated, as if you had chosen Update entire table.

The table of contents provides a navigation tool for your document, as well. By default, each entry in the table of contents is a hyperlink to the heading to which it refers.

  • Ctrl+click an entry in the table of contents to jump to that part of the document
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