How to Make a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

One of Microsoft Words best features is the ability to make a clickable table of contents table at the beginning of a document. Not only is the table of contents handy for print publications but it’s a nice feature when viewing a file on the computer. Simply use the control key and a click on the desired chapter and automatically jump to the proper page. In addition, as the document changes through edits and as additional material is added, the table of contents can be updated to reflect the changes.

Many MS Word users are unaware of Microsoft Word’s table of contents features and create their own table of contents pages manually. Not only is this time consuming to create in the first page, it is difficult to manage as the document undergoes changes.

To create a table of contents page in MS Word, one must first create a document and format it in such a manner that “headings” and “sub-headings” are used. For each chapter, use a consistent heading such as the default of “heading 1” or create a custom heading. No matter which heading is used, the key is to be consistent. The main heading will be displayed in the table of contents with sub-headings displayed subordinately.

Once the document is complete, place the curser at the beginning of the document and choose from the MS Word menu: Insert, reference, index and tables. Choose the “Table of Contents” tab. The print preview pane shows how the various headings will display. If custom headings were used in the document, choose the options button. From there, scroll down to the desired heading and assign a table of contents level to it. Table of contents level 1 would be considered the main level with each following level subordinate to it and indented incrementally.

To adjust the font of the table of contents, choose the modify option while in the table of contents menu. From here, choose the desired font, size and style for each level of the table of contents. Once the settings are satisfactory, click OK and the table of contents will be inserted into the document.

To update the table of contents, simply right-click anywhere within the table and choose “update field”. A menu pops up asking to update page numbers only or the entire table. The changes made to the document will influence the proper choice here. Another way to update is to click anywhere within the table of contents and go back to the table of contents menu by again choosing:Insert, reference, index and tables. Make any desired changes and click OK. A dialogue box will ask if this will replace the existing table of contents. Click yes and the new changes will replace the old table of contents.

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