Create a table of contents in Word

To create a table of contents that’s easy to keep up-to-date, apply heading styles to the text you want to include in the table of contents. After that, Word will create an automatic table of contents based on those headings.

Apply heading styles

Select the text you want to include in the table of contents, and then on the Home tab, click a heading style like Heading 1.

On the Ribbon click a heading style

Do this for all of the text you want to show up in the table of contents.

Create a table of contents

Word uses the headings in your document to build an automatic table of contents that can be updated when you change the heading text, sequence, or level.

  1. Click where you want to insert the table of contents – usually near the beginning of a document.

  2. Click References > Table of Contents and then choose an Automatic Table of Contents style from the list.

    Note: If you use a Manual Table of Contents style, Word won't use your headings to create a table of contents and won't be able to update it automatically. Instead, Word will use placeholder text to create the look of a table of contents so you can manually type each entry into the table of contents.

    On the References tab, click Table of Contents, and then select an Automatic Table of Contents style from the gallery

If you want to Format or customize your table of contents, you can. For example, you can change the font, the number of heading levels, and whether to show dotted lines between entries and page numbers.

You can also create a table of contents manually. Manually created tables of contents are sometimes useful for short documents that won't change, or when your document headings don't use the built-in heading styles. A manually created table of contents requires more work to update than an automatic table of contents because it must be updated manually whenever you add, change, or remove headings or pages in your document.

Create a table of contents automatically

Add a table of contents

  1. In your document, apply heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, and so on, up to Heading 9) to the text that you want to appear in the table of contents.

    If you do not see the heading style that you want, on the Home tab, under Styles, point to a style, and then click More Down Arrow .

    Tip: To prevent the document title from appearing in the table of contents, do not use Heading 1 for the title. Apply the Title style, Book Title style, or another style to the title instead of a heading style.

  2. In your document, click where you want to insert the table of contents.

    Tip: If you want to put the table of contents on a separate page or use different page numbers for the table of contents than the rest of the document, put the table of contents in a separate section by adding section breaks before and after the table of contents.

  3. On the View menu, click Print Layout.

  4. On the Document Elements tab, under Table of Contents, click the table of contents design that you want.

    Document Elements tab, Table of Contents group

Change the number of levels in the table of contents

By default, a table of contents has three heading levels. However, you can increase or decrease the number of levels that show in the table of contents.

  1. On the Document Elements tab, under Table of Contents, click Options.

    Document Elements tab, Table of Contents group

  2. On the Table of Contents tab, in the Show levels box, enter the number of levels that you want to show (up to 9), and then click OK.

    If you are prompted to replace the selected table of contents, click Yes.

Update the table of contents

You can update the table of contents if you make changes to your document. You can update either the whole table of contents or page numbers only.

  1. Hold down CONTROL , click the table of contents, and then click Update Field.

  2. Click the option that you want.

    If you see "Error! Bookmark not defined"

    If you see "Error! Bookmark not defined" instead of page numbers in your table of contents, it indicates that the document changed after the table of contents was updated or that the field code is corrupt. The table of contents is out of sync with the document and must be updated.

Delete a table of contents

  1. Click the table of contents.

  2. On the frame that appears, click the arrow next to Table of Contents, and then click Remove Table of Contents from the shortcut menu.

    Table of Contents shortcut menu

Customize the formatting for the table of contents

You can change the style for each level of the table of contents to suit your needs. For example, if your style sheet requires different formatting for the table of contents than what is provided in built-in templates, you can change font style, indentation, tab leader dots, and other attributes.

  1. On the Document Elements tab, under Table of Contents, click Options.

    Document Elements tab, Table of Contents group

    Tip: To change tab leader dots, on the Tab leader pop-up menu, click the style that you want.

  2. On the Table of Contents tab, click Modify.

  3. In the Styles box, click the table of contents level that you want to change (for example, TOC 1 for level 1).

  4. Click Modify, and then make the changes that you want to font, font size, font color, and so on.

    To change indents, paragraph spacing, and other attributes, on the Format pop-up menu, click the kind of change that you want, use the pop-up menus to select your options, and then click OK.

    Tip: To change capitalization, on the Format pop-up menu, click Font, and then clear the Small caps or All caps check box.

  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for each level of the table of contents, and then click Apply.

  6. When the Preview box correctly shows the styles that you want, click OK.

Save the table of contents style as a template

You can reuse the table of contents formatting in future documents by saving it as a template in the My Templates folder. You can then open the template from the Document Gallery and insert the table of contents by using the Insert menu.

  1. In the document that you want to base the template on, make any changes to the styles that you want to save.

  2. Delete all text and graphics that you do not want to appear in new documents.

  3. On the File menu, click Save As.

  4. On the Format pop-up menu, click Word Template (.dotx).

  5. In the Save As box, type the name that you want to use for the new template, and then click Save.

    Unless you select a different location, Word saves the template file in the following folder: /Users/ username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates/My Templates/.

    Notes: 

    • To create a new document based on the template, on the File menu, click New from Template. Under Templates, click My Templates, and then double-click the template that you want.

    • To insert a table of contents based on your template, on the Insert menu, click Index and Tables, and then in the Formats box, click From template.

Create a table of contents manually

  1. In your document, click where you want to insert the table of contents.

    Tip: If you want to put the table of contents on a separate page or use different page numbers for the table of contents than the rest of the document, put the table of contents in a separate section by adding section breaks before and after the table of contents.

  2. On the View menu, click Print Layout.

  3. On the Document Elements tab, under Table of Contents, point to a table of contents style, click More Down Arrow , and then under Manual Table of Contents, click the design that you want.

    Document Elements tab, Table of Contents group

    Note: If you see an error that Word did not find any table of contents entries, it means that you selected an automatic table of contents style and that you don't have any headings formatted using one of the built-in heading styles. Repeat step 3 and make sure to select a manual table of contents design.

  4. Type the headings and page numbers into the table of contents to match where they occur in your document.

  5. To add additional items, copy an existing entry and then paste it into the desired location in the table of contents.

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