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When you’re creating or editing a long document, you’llprobably have sầu to lớn create a table of contents. That might sound lượt thích a chore, butfortunately, you can bởi vì it in just a few clicks. Then, if you change the document, Word can update the table of content instantly. 

Best of all, Word includes hyperlinks to the various sections in your table of contents, so it isn"t just a visual aid forprinted documents, but it"s also perfect to lớn make easy-to-browse online documents and PDFs with.

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Creating the table of contents in Word itself is simple, but the tricky part is getting it to work the way you want. In this tutorial, I"ll show you everything you need to make a simple, auto-generated table of contents, & then get it lớn look the way you want in every version of Microsoft Word.

How to Make a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word (Screencast)

You can follow along using your own document, or if you prefer, tải về the zip tệp tin included for this tutorial. It contains a document called The Age of Einstein.docx, which is a public domain name physics textbook (credit to the author, Professor Frank W.K. Firk).


Watch the đoạn Clip screencast above or follow the written tutorial instructions below for more detail on how to make a table of contents in Word.

Creating Your Table of Contents in Word

There are a few ways of creating a table of contents in Word, but only two that you’llever use

Create them automatically from built-in stylesCreate them from your custom styles

These methods work mostly the same in Windows & Mac versions of Microsoft Word.

Using MS Word built-in styles is the faskiểm tra and most commontechnique, và using custom styles takes only a little more work. Sometimes,you’ll want khổng lồ use both techniques in the same document. Once you have sầu a table of contents (TOC) ina document, you can format it with its own styles. You don’t want lớn format theTOC lượt thích regular text, because the formatting can easily get wiped out.

How the Textbook is Organized

Before doing anything to the document, let’s see how it’sorganized. Page 1 is the title, page 2 is blank và will hold the table of contents, page 3is the preface, & after that comes the text. As you scroll down, notice that headings& subheadings are formatted.

The textbook as màn chơi 1, 2 & 3 headings.

The best way lớn see the structure of the document is withthe Navigation Pane. (In some versions of Word for Mac, it may be called the Document Map Pane.)

In Windows, go lớn the Viewtab, then cliông xã the check box khổng lồ enable the Navigation Pane.

The Word Navigation Pane is a great way of looking through a document.

On the Mac, click the Sidebar option lớn show the drop-down thực đơn. Cliông chồng the arrow next lớn the option & click Navigation. (On older versions of the Mac software, the option is called Document Map Pane.)

On the Mac, use Sidebar > Navigation khổng lồ navigate through a document.

On your Mac or PC, go back lớn the Hometab if you’re not already there. Keep your eye on the Styles box on the ribbon,and cliông chồng the items in the pane lớn navigate through the book. 

Notice that theitems with whole numbers – lượt thích 2.Understanding the Physical Universe – are formatted as Heading 1, và itemswith decimals – lượt thích 2.1 Reality & PureThought – are formatted as Heading 2. There are also a few decimal items –lượt thích 4.5 Space Travel – that areformatted as Heading 3.

Tip: whencreating a document, the shortcuts for applying the Heading 1, 2 and 3 stylesare Ctrl-Alt-1, Ctrl-Alt-2, & Ctrl-Alt-3(và Command-Opt-1, Command-Opt -2, & Command-Opt-3 on the Mac).

Generating a Table of Contents Using Built-In Header Styles in Word

Word can now turn those Heading styles inlớn table of contentsentries. Click at the top of page 2. (Tip: in Windows, press Ctrl-G,type 2, then press Enter. On the Mac, press Command-Opt-G, type 2, then press Return.)

In Windows, go lớn the Referencestab on the ribbon, clichồng the Table ofContents button on the left, then choose one of the two built-in tablesfrom the danh sách. lưu ý that the thumbnails show that Headings 1, 2 & 3 will beincluded.

It’s almost the same on the Mac. Go to lớn the Insert thực đơn, choose Index và Tables, then pichồng one of theformats on the left and clichồng OK.This dialog box also shows that Headings 1-3 will be included.

You can insert a table of contents in Word just by clicking one of the samples. (Example shown is on Windows.)

As soon as you choose one, the table of contents gets inserted starting tối ưu trong trang 2, and Word automatically inserts a couple of more pages, so it all fits. In Windows, you can Ctrl-clichồng one of the items, and it will hyperlink lớn the thành tích in the document.

A table of contents is a field that you can update in MS Word. In Windows, fields have sầu a gray background.

This works great, but there’s one problem. Before theIntroduction, there is a Preface thatshould be included in the table of contents. And just before Appendix A1 is the heading forthe Appendix, and that should also beincluded. But they weren’t, because they’re both formatted with a custom stylecalled Large heading, and customstyles don’t get included in the mặc định table of contents. The second method of creating table of contents in Word will fix that.

Creating a Table of Contents From Custom Styles in Word

Word can include any styles in a table of contents. We justhave to lớn tell it which ones to choose. And we can update the table, rather than havinglớn delete it and start over.

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In Windows, go back khổng lồ the References tab, cliông chồng the Tableof Contents button, then near the bottom of the menu, choose Custom Table of Contents. Cliông xã the Options button near the bottom of the dialog box khổng lồ display the Table of Contents Options dialog box.

On the Mac, go khổng lồ bachồng lớn the Insert menu và choose Indexvà Tables. In the Table of Contents section, click the Options button.

On the Mac or PC the Table of Contents Options dialog box shows that the Heading 1 style will have TOC level 1,the Heading 2 style will have TOC màn chơi 2, và the Heading 3 style will haveTOC cấp độ 3.

Word uses its built-in styles khổng lồ determine what goes inlớn the table of contents. (Windows example)

Scroll down lớn the bottom of the danh sách (on the Mac, you"ll use the down slider). Then, in the box for Large heading, type a 1 to lớn make it màn chơi 1. Table of Content levels cancome from more than one style.

To include a custom style in the table of contents, assign a heading màn chơi lớn it.

Click OK in theTable of Contents Options dialog, then OK again in the Table of Contents dialog box. When Word displays a message asking if you want lớn replace thetable, choose Yes. The Preface and Appendix are now both included in the tableof contents.

After adding custom styles to the TOC menu, text formatted with those styles will appear in the table.

Manually Updating the Table of Contents in Word

There are other times when you’ll want to lớn update the tablemanually. This is handy when you change the text of one of the headings andwant the change reflected in the table of contents.

Scroll down to lớn the page with the preface. At the top of the page replacePREFACE with FORWARD. Make sure it still uses the Large heading style.

Go back to lớn the top of the table of contents and cliông xã in it. lưu ý that ithas a gray background; that means it’s a field, and fields can usually beupdated. 

Click the Update Tablebutton either on the TOC itself (that button doesn"t always appear) or on the References tab, and the first entry changes khổng lồ FORWARD. (On the Mac, right-clichồng the table and choose Update Field from the pop-up thực đơn. Choose the Update entire table option and click OK.)

Update the table of contents with either of the Update Table buttons or by right-clicking on the table và selecting Update field. (Windows example shown here.)

Now that the table of contents displays the correct text, wecan apply nicer formatting though.

How to Modify Table of Contents Styles in Word

Each heading cấp độ of the table of contents has its ownstyle that’s automatically applied. All we have khổng lồ bởi vì is change the formattingof the styles to change the table’s appearance, here"s how:

In Windows, in the References tab of the ribbon, cliông xã again on the Table of Contents button and choose Custom Table of Contents, near thebottom. In the Table of Contents dialog box, click Modify.On the Mac, clichồng Insert > Index& Tables. On the left side, choose From Template, thenclick Modify. Everything else worksthe same way as in Windows.In the Table of Contents dialog box, cliông chồng Modify, và another dialog box appears,showing style names và formatting for the TOC heading levels. Select TOC1.Clichồng the Modifybutton just below it, and the Style dialog box appears. (On the Mac, it"s called the Properties dialog box.)
Use the Style dialog box in Word lớn choose the heading levels you want lớn format.

Format the style with Arial or Helvetica, 12 points, bold.Then clichồng OK.

Modify the style of a TOC thắng lợi is the same as modifying the style of any other text in Word.Repeat for the TOC 2 style, and phối it to lớn Arialor Helvetica, 12 points, normal.Repeat for the TOC 3 style, và set it to Arialor Helvetica, 11 points, normal.

The table of contents should now look lượt thích this:

After editing the table of contents styles & updating the table, you"ll see the new formatting.


When you have sầu a long document, you don’t have sầu to fearcreating a table of contents. Whether you’re using Windows or a Mac, you caninsert one in just a few clicks, then use the same dialog box to change theformatting.

As you learned in this table of contents tutorial, rethành viên not to apply formatting directly to lớn the table, because itcan get wiped out if you replace it. If you make any changes khổng lồ the Word document itself, remember to click the top of the TOC và update it. Leave sầu a comment below if you have sầu any trouble making or tweaking your table of contents.

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To learn more about working with Microsoft Word, study the following tutorials:

Editorial Note: This post wasoriginally published in 2014. It has been comprehensively revised lớn make itcurrent, accurate, and up khổng lồ date by our staff—with special assistance from Laura Spencer.

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