The Outline view

The outline view provides a number of tools and shortcuts to facilitate navigating, rearranging, and restructuring your document.

To switch to the outline view, do one of the following:

  • Click the Outline View button.

    Word view buttons

  • Choose View → Outline.

The document is displayed in outline view. The levels, or hierarchy, of the outline is created using outline level formats.

Formatting in the outline view

The document's formatting is not exactly the same as it would appear in other views: indentation, line spacing, page breaks, and other formats are not shown. Some formatting, particularly font formatting, is shown.

  • To toggle (turn on and off) formatting in the outline view, click the Show Formatting button. Show Formatting button

Heading markers

Headings appear in the outline with a marker that shows whether the heading has content 'beneath' it. If there is content beneath a heading, a plus sign will appear next to the heading.

outline level indicators

If there is no content beneath a heading, a minus sign will appear next to the heading. Body text paragraphs are marked by a small square next to the paragraph.

You can use heading markers to select a level, expand and collapse levels, and rearrange levels.

Filtering the outline

You can filter the depth of the view of your document using the Show Level button.

  • Select from the Show Level drop-down menu to specify how deep you want to view the outline of your document. Choosing a level will filter out all content 'beneath' that level. Choosing Show All Levels will show the entire document.

    Show Level button

  • Click the Show First Line Only button to display only the first line of multi-line paragraphs. This can make it easier to view the document outline. Show First Line Only button

Expanding and collapsing the outline

You can also filter your view of the outline by expanding and collapsing levels of the outline. When you expand a level, you show its children—the content beneath the level. When you collapse a level, you hide its children.

  • Click the Expand or Collapse buttons, which hide the body text beneath the heading.
  • Double-click the heading indicator (the plus sign) next to the heading to expand or collapse all content beneath the level. Expand and Collapse buttons

Restructuring and rearranging content in the outline view

The outline view makes it easy to rearrange and restructure content. You can move content up and down in the document. You can also promote content, which makes it more important by decreasing the outline level of the content and moving it to the left in the outline; or demote content, which makes it less important by increasing the outline level of the content and moving it to the right in the outline.

  • Drag a heading marker up or down to rearrange content. Alternatively, select a marker and click the Move Up or Move Down button. Move Up and Move Down buttons
  • Drag a heading marker to the left to promote the level, or to the right to demote the level. You can also select a heading marker and use one of the promote or demote buttons.

    outline level buttons

    These buttons are, from left to right:

    • Promote to Heading 1
    • Promote one level
    • Selector: select a level to promote or demote to
    • Demote one level
    • Demote to Body Text

    The effect of promoting and demoting is to change the outline level of the content. If the content uses a built-in heading style, the appropriate new heading style is applied. Otherwise, the paragraph format, Outline level, is modified to reflect the new level of the content.

Believe it or not, Word does not have a function to print the outline as shown in the Outline view. You can, however, create a table of contents without page numbers. Because the table of contents is generated automatically using outline levels, as is the Outline view, the result is a printed outline.
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