applied tips : january 2009

microsoft word : making a table of contents

Word can automatically add a Table of Contents to our documents, which is great when we want to give readers a quick way to navigate straight to the chapter they're interested in.

This feature takes chapter headings from our document and creates the table with page numbers and hyperlinks. Even better, as our document changes and pages are added or removed, a quick command will tell Word to update the table's contents.

Understanding Styles

A style is a predefined way for text to look in a document, such as the font size, line spacing, alignment, and even color.  Word allows you to create a variety of styles apply them throughout your documents.

By using styles, your documents will be more consistent because headings and paragraph settings will match even if they are in different files. 

Word includes three Styles that are specific to our Table of Contents example. They are called Heading 1, Heading 2, and so-on. There are nine levels of Headings, although we normally only use the first one or two.

Applying Styles

To apply a style to your document, first select the paragraph to modify and then click on the style name to apply.

For example, if the phrase "Employment Benefits" is a top-level heading of your document, you might highlight it and choose "Heading 1". 

In Word 2003, you can choose from a Style in two ways:

In Word 2007, you can choose from a Style in three ways:

Before you can create the table, you must identify to Word the headings of each of your sections.  This is done through by applying the Heading 1-3 styles to the headings throughout your document.  Word will structure the table based on these headings.

Go through your document and apply the Heading 1 style as often as needed for the main sections of your text.  If needed, use Heading 2 for sub-sections and Heading 3 for sub-sub-sections.

Creating the Table of Contents

When you are ready to create your Table of Contents, place your cursor exactly where you want it to appear (usually near the top of your document). 

If you are using Word 2003: Pull down the Insert menu and choose Reference, then "Index and Tables", and click the "Table of Contents" tab.  You can generally accept all of the default choices in this window, and press OK.  You should now have a dynamic table of contents in your document.

If you are using Word 2007: Change the Ribbon to the References tab and pull down the Table of Contents menu.  You can insert a built-in style, or create your own by selecting "Insert Table of Contents" at the bottom of the gallery window.

That's all there is to it!

Updating the Table of Contents

Note that the table does not immediately update whenever you change headings or your text is repaginated. 

To force an update, right-click on it and choose "Update Field".

You should always do this before saving or printing your document.

Changing Table of Contents Styles

The appearance of your table can be modified by changing the Styles that are assigned to the various levels of the TOC (TOC 1, TOC 2, etc).

schedule a class on word

Request an on-site Word class from Applied Office. Sessions are inexpensive and your employees will be able to mail merge, create organized documents, make forms, and take advantage of all the other features they're missing out on!  Learn more here.

upcoming classes on word

Classes on Microsoft Word are scheduled at University of the Pacific, and you can attend!  Review the Upcoming Classes for more information.