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OpenOffice.org Writer: Insert a Table of Contents

There are times when it’s just necessary to have a table of contents in our documents.

If you’re going to create one manually, then you’re probably developing quite a headache. What with all the formatting involved (tab stops, tab leaders, etc…) and the collection of entries plus their page numbers I’m pretty sure that some of you would be well on your way to a minor panic attack.

Oh yeah, let’s also not forget the incredibly painful process of adjusting page numbers ever time you edit the document!


I feel your pain, and I obviously brought the subject up to let you know that you do have an alternative… a good one that will allow you to have table of contents created by Writer with automatic updating when page numbers change, sections are re-arranged, added or deleted.

If you’ve ever created one of these by hand then I know you’re interested in this one, so let’s get right to business.

First thing to know is that in order to have Writer create and update your table of contents automatically you will have to let it know where the sections or chapters begin… we will do this using Writer’s styles.


If you select a section or chapter title text and then use the drop down list to apply a heading style to the text Writer will then include it in your table of contents.

Should your paper contain sub-sections then be sure to apply heading 2 to those entries if you want them listed under the main section on the table of contents.

With the formatting applied let’s actually create a table of contents via the Insert menu / Indexes and Tables sub-menu / Indexes and Tables choice.


On the Index/Table tab you’ll find a pretty straight forward setup:


You can name you table of contents, protect it from manual changes (or allow them if you un-check that option), let writer know what to use when creating the table and other things.

You’ll find that there are quite a few choices on this tab… it will create different types of documentation for your paper. Check out the drop down list of items below the table name if you’re interested in looking at everything this particular location can create.

Anyway, back to the table of contents discussion.

When you’ve looked things over and made your required changes click OK.


I now have a table of contents in my document at the location of my cursor. All the formatting was done for me and the titles that I marked as headings are the entries.

If you later edit the document simply right click on the table and choose Update Index/Table.


Instantly you’ll have a table of contents that reflects re-arrangements, additions, deletions, heading styles changes, etc…

It really can be that easy to have a table of contents that doesn’t require any aspirin to combat the pain of its creation.

~ April