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Insert Automatic Tables of Contents in Microsoft® Word

Application Microsoft® Word® Version 1.00
Author OfficeHelp
Tested on versions: 2000 (9.0) - should work on any version from Office 97


Most large text documents are divided in chapters and need a Table of Contents. But making one manually is an annoyance and highly impractical. Change the text and you haveto update all your page numbers. It is impossible to do without error for long.

But there is a solution. Let Word do the Table of Contents for you, automatically - including page numbers and chapter title updates. Learn how on this useful 5-minute tip. Make professional looking documents with this trick.


It is fairly easy if you follow the right steps:
  1. Mark each title in the document you want into the Table of Contents ;
  2. Insert the Table of Contents;
  3. Refresh the Table of Contents if the document has been changed;

STEP 1 - Marking Titles

The first thing to do is to mark each title as such, so Microsoft® Word can include them in the future Table of Contents:

1) Find a title on your document and select it with the mouse:

1. Level 1 Title

2) Apply the Heading Format from the Styles Toolbar (normally visible on the top next to the Font and Font Size selections). Apply the respective Heading level Format (Heading 1 for top level titles, Heading 2 for 2nd level titles, ...)

Heading Formats

3) Repeat for each title until the document is complete.

You can have several levels of titles, but you shouldn't use all for the Table of Contents. Usually, up to 3 levels is appropriate, and for simpler documents the first may be sufficient. Decide for yourself according to the complexity of your document.

STEP 2: Insert the Table of Contents 

To insert a Table of Contents on your document, after marking your headings, do this:

1) Place the document editing cursor in the place you want the Table of Contents to be;

2) On the Insert menu, select Index and Tables:

Index and Tables on the Insert menu

3) Select Table of Contents on the Index and Tables dialog and press the OK button:

Table of Contents Dialog

For the beginning, leave the options alone. Just insert the table of contents on your document using the default options. Once you're comfortable with it, make some testes with the options to see if they interest you.



STEP 3: Refreshing the Table of Contents;

Once done, you can edit your document at will without worrying about its data (title names, page numbers, ...). Updating is easy.

1) Select the existing Table of Contents (all of it) with the mouse:

Selecting the existing Table of Contents

2) Place the mouse over the selection and use the right mouse button to get the Context Menu. Select Update Field:

Table of Contents Context Menu

3) Select the type of update you want. It's best to use "Update Entire Table" because it will always produce the latest version:

Update options

4) The new, updated Table of Contexts will replace the old one.

Both the text in the headings and the page numbers have been updated with no trouble at all!

Defining your own Heading formats 

Word will format each heading you mark with the it's specific format. These formats are already defined on the template you're using (usually, Word default normal template). You will probably want to apply your own formatting to these headings, instead of the default ones. You can define your own font, size, and even if it should be automatically numbered or not.

Explaining how to define this formats it's outside this PC Tip scope. We will publish a tutorial on it later. Subscribe our newsletter if you want to be warned about OfficeHelp.Biz new contents every month

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Other option is to obtain professional grade ready-made templates with their own definitions. Choose one you like, buy it, and use it as a format seed for your own documents. 

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