How to Create an Automated Table of Contents in Word

If you are working on a lengthy Word document, and want to create a table of contents, there are easier ways to do this than typing out the headings and the page numbers. You can even update the automatically generated table with the press of a key, even if you have changed headings, added pages, or moved entire sections within the document.

Using the automated table of contents function is easy and makes updating the document much easier, as heading number will also automatically update if you delete, change, or move headings around in the document. This function also allows you to update the format of headings easily too.

Step 1 – Create Headings Styles

The first step to creating an automated table of contents in a Word document is to use the pre-set headings styles. You need to use Heading 1, Heading 2 and Heading 3 styles for the table of contents to generate properly. You can change the format of the headings styles, so do not worry if the styles do not match your usual document style.

To use the Headings styles for the headings, you need to see the Styles and formatting toolbar. Goto “Format” in the main toolbar and select “Styles and Formatting”. A new side bar should appear on the right hand side of the screen in Word. At the top of the bar, it should show the “formatting of selected text”. The default is Normal. You may find that the style says something like “Normal plus i8pt Bold Anal”, if you have altered the text formatting in the document.

Underneath the Formatting of selected text box, there are two buttons, “Select All” and “New Style”. If you want to create a new style completely, you can do so using the New Style button. Beneath these two boxes, you will see another box titled “Pick formatting to apply”. In this box, you will find several options, including “Clear Formatting, Bold, Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, and Normal.” There maybe others in the list, but you can ignore any others. To change the styles to suit your formatting requirements, click on the downward arrow on the Show Available formatting box in the bottom of the Styles and Formatting side bar. Select “Custom…” from the drop down menu that appears A new menu box will a p pear on the screen. Click on the “Styles” box in the bottom left hand corner of the menu box Select Heading 1 from the list of available styles Then click on the “Modify” button.

A new menu box will appear. You can change the font, font size, set for bold, or italics, set the justification, line spacing, numbering and even set a short-cut key for the Heading 1 style. Click on the Format button with the downward arrow to get these options. Once you modified the style of Heading 1 to suit your document requirements, click the “OK” button. The first menu box will be on the screen, showing a preview or sample of the Heading! If you are satisfied with the changes, click “Apply”. You can then repeat the process to set the styles of Heading 2 and Heading 3.

Step 2 – Create Headings in the Document

Use the Heading 1 style for the main headings of sections or chapters in your word document. Use Heading 2 for the subheadings within the chapter or section and use Heading 3 for subheadings or sub sections within the second group. Use Normal text for the rest of the text within the document.

If you have already written the document, you may need to highlight each heading within the document and select the style you wish to apply —Headings Heading 2, or Heading 3. You will need to do this only once.

If you set up the styles before you start to write the document, it is easy to apply the styles as you write. Keep the “Styles and Formatting” side bar u p while you write the document, and click on the appropriate style before you type each heading or paragraph. The other option is to use the tool bar on the top of the screen to select the styles. This is usually left of the font name, e.g “Times New Roman”.

Step 3-Create Table of Contents

Now that you have set up the headings, you can create an automatically generated table of contents. Create a page in front of the document or where you want the table of contents to appear. Go to the “Insert” drop down menu on the top of the page. Click on the bottom arrows in the column to show all options and then select “Reference”. Another small drop down menu will appear to the side. Select “Index and Tables…”.

This will bring up another menu box You can use the Index tab to create an automatically generated Index at the end of your document.

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