September 23, 2022
Quickly Add a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

Quickly Add a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

Today, we’re going to show you how to quickly add a table of contents in Microsoft Word. You can find the long document we are using here, but you can follow these tips to create a table of contents in any Microsoft Word document you’re working on.

The first thing you need to do is pull up the navigation pane in the document you’re working in. To do this, you will click the “view” tab and then click the “navigation pane” box in the ribbon, as shown below.

navigation pane in microsoft word screenshot

Next, you will click back in the document you’re working in and click next to the section you want to show up on the table of contents.

For this example, we want the Microsoft Word Tutorial to be the title of the table of contents. So what we will do is click next to the heading “Microsoft Word Tutorial” and then click the “home” tab. It will bring up a ribbon that includes a variety of styles you can choose from.

Click the “Title” style, as shown below.

table of contents different styles in microsoft word

This changes the style of the “Microsoft Word Tutorial” heading to a title.

Now, we will add the different sections as headings so they show up on our table of contents.

To do this, click beside the section we want to make a header, just like we did for the title.

This time, instead of clicking the “title” style, we will click the “heading” style, and it will change the text to look like this:

heading style in microsoft word

Notice on the left side of the screen on the navigation pane, you can see your first heading has shown up.

You will repeat this process for all headings you want to include in your table of contents. Simply click next to the heading text and click the “heading” style in the ribbon above.

You can create subheadings within each heading by choosing heading 2 or heading 3 in the ribbon above to indent the heading on the left in the navigation pane to indicate that it’s a subheading of the heading above it.

In the example below, we changed “Word Templates” to Heading 2 and “How to Set a Default Word Theme for Startup” to Heading 3.

changing headings in microsoft word

Once you create your headings and subheadings, your navigation panel should look like the example below.

headings and subheadings in microsoft word

You should see all of your headings and subheadings listed on the left side of your screen.

This setup makes it easy to jump from one section to the next without having to scroll through the entire document to find the section you’re looking for. Simply click on the section you want to jump to, and it will take you there.

When you have finished creating all of your headings and subheadings, you can create your table of contents.

To do this, you will go to the references tab and then table of contents, as seen below.

references tab in microsoft word screenshot

Choose the first option on the table of contents list, the automatic table 1, as shown below.

automatic table 1 in microsoft word screenshot

When you click “Automatic Table 1”, it will create a table of contents that looks like the image below.

automatic table in microsoft word screenshot

If you want to make changes to the table of contents, you can make them directly in the document itself. The table of contents won’t automatically update. You will have to click the table of contents to bring up the “update table” button for you to click on, as seen below.

update table in microsoft word screenshot

Clicking the update table button makes the changes take effect in the table of contents.

You will have to choose between “update page numbers only” and “update entire table.”

If you make a change to the table of contents, such as including a new heading or changing a heading to a subheading, you will need to choose “update entire table.”

If you’re adding more content to one of the headings or subheadings, you will only need to click “update the page numbers only”, and the page number will update.

How to Customize Your Table of Contents

Now that you know how to create a table of contents in MS Word, it’s time to learn how to customize it.

To do this, you will click the Table of Contents tab and click the option that says, “Custom Table of Contents”, as you can see in the example below.

custom table of contents in microsoft word screenshot

When you click “Custom Table of Contents”, it brings up a box that allows you to make changes to your table of contents, as seen below.

custom table of contents changes in microsoft word screenshot

You can show page numbers, right-align the page numbers, and show each heading level you want to include in the table of contents.

If you want to create a heading style for one of your headings in your table of contents, you can do this by going to the Home tab and clicking on the drop-down button in the “styles” ribbon of the document. This will bring up a list of options that includes “create a style”, as shown below.

table of contents custom style in microsoft word screenshot

When you click “create a style”, you have to immediately give it a name so you know what the name of the style is that you created. Doing so allows you to find it on the list easier.

You can choose to leave it as style 1, or you can create a name of its own.

Once you have named the style, click “modify,” it will bring up a box that allows you to change the font size, style, and spacing of the table of contents.

Once you have created the style you want, click “OK”, and the style you created will now be one of the styles listed in the styles ribbon at the top of the page.

To apply the style you created to the table of contents, simply click on the header you want to change the style of and then click the new header style you created, and it will automatically update.

Conclusion

The next time you need to add a table of contents to your MS Word document, we hope you use this guideline. It’s quick, easy, and will help you add a table of contents to your document in no time.