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Word Created TOCs

Friday, November 19th, 2004 by | Filed Under: MS Word

Word Created TOCs

OK. So we’re ready to discover the secrets of MS Word’s automatic table of contents feature—let’s get right to it.

The first thing you need to do is establish your document with heading styles. You need to use consistent headings for chapter / section titles and then consistent headings for the subsections below each section title.

For example, you may apply Heading 1 to each section title in the paper. Then apply the Heading 2 style to each subheading in the sections. Then, if there are further divisions within the subheadings, apply the Heading 3 style to them, and so on.

If you’re looking for information on applying headings check out the April 29 and May 1, 2003 issues of MS Office Tips in our archives located at

Once you have consistent headings applied throughout the document you’re ready to create the table of contents…

…Or should I say that you’re ready to have Word do all the work of creating the table of contents!

No more printing out the document, assembling section and subsection titles along with their page numbers. None of it—have Word do all that with a few clicks!

To begin you need to put your cursor at the point you want to insert the TOC.

Next you’re looking for the Insert menu, Index and Tables choice.

Once the Index and Tables window opens you’re looking for the Table of Contents tab.

If you’re working with Word 97 then the window looks like this:


It’s here that you will choose the basic style of TOC you want to create and make decisions concerning modifications to the style.

On the left of the screen you’ll find a list of TOC format choices. As you click on each name you’ll notice that the preview on the right changes – keep an eye on the preview section anytime you make a change. It’s the best way to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.

Below the style choices you’ll find a couple of choices concerning page numbers. You can decide if page numbers should be displayed and whether you want them right aligned or with the TOC entry itself.

For the right aligned page numbers you can choose a tab leader type (the line that connects the TOC item to its page number) from the drop down list, or choose to have no leader at all.

The “Show levels” field allows you to set how detailed the TOC gets. If you’ve used many levels of heading styles for subsections then you may not want the TOC to contain every little thing. Basically, the number refers to how many heading levels you want it to include. (Bigger numbers = more details)

We should also discuss what to do if you’ve used heading styles that aren’t the standard 1, 2, etc…

In this case you’ll want to click the Options button.


This will take you to a window where all styles available in the current document are listed. Here you can scroll through the list and number the styles in the correct order. Place a 1 for the style applied to the main section headings. Then a 2 for the next level of subsection and so on, until you’ve labeled all the styles you’ve used in your document that should be included in the TOC.

When you’ve completed the numbering click OK.

You’ll be returned to the Table of Contents tab. When you’ve completed the settings there click OK.

And poof!

A completed table of contents has been inserted into your document, section titles, page numbers and all.

At this time we should take a look at newer versions of Word. The “Table of Contents” tab should look like this:


Pretty much it’s the same stuff—rearranged a bit—but still, it’s all there. (To find the table of content style choices you’ll need to look in the Formats drop down list.)

The new addition would be the Web Preview window.

This is to let you know what it will look like if you’re creating an html document. Page numbers aren’t used here because they are direct links to each location.

Wow! That was quite a bit, but I’m sure that once you give this a try you’ll like it. The trick is to apply the heading styles consistently throughout the document then the rest will automatically fall into place.

It’s way faster than the old routine of creating it all by hand, and far less aggravating!

~ April

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