How to create a table of contents in Word

Deepak Gupta January 29, 2022
Updated 2022/01/29 at 10:16 AM

The longer a Word document becomes, the more confusing it becomes. Only an overview will help. We’ll show you how to Create a table of contents in Word and why you don’t need the spacebar or tab key to do it.

Creating a table of contents in Word: Easier than you think

Maybe you know it too: You want to create a table of contents for a longer Word document and are torturing yourself with tabs, line breaks and the exact number of spaces. Creating a table of contents manually is really no fun. Good to know that Word has the ideal tools for this. You just have to know them.

How to create your table of contents:

  1. Place the cursor at the position in your still empty document where you want to place the table of contents.
  2. Now you can select the “Table of Contents” option in the options bar above the document under the “References” tab.
  3. Now another window will open where you can choose a shape for your table of contents.

If your text has changed after creating the directory, you don’t have to laboriously rewrite it. It is sufficient if you right-click on the table of contents. Then the “Update field” option will appear and your new chapter will be included in the already created table of contents.

You can also use the search bar at the top of your Word program to create a table of contents. Here you just type in the word “table of contents” and the above options are presented to you again.

The navigation bar

If you’re already concerned about the size of your document, you can also turn on the navigation bar. To do this, click View in the top options bar, then check the Navigation Pane box.

This little tool is useful if you want to create a table of contents in Word. It shows you all the headings recognized by the program. So you can also see which headings may not yet be listed. You can also click on the respective heading and thus land directly on the correct page within your document.

If headings are not displayed

It may happen that some of the headings you have chosen do not appear in the table of contents. This is because some headings are not formatted as headings. However, the problem can be easily fixed with a few simple steps:

  1. Choose a text/title for each heading in your table of contents.
  2. In the top options menu, switch to “Home” and then to “Styles” and from here “Heading 1”.
  3. Once you have entered the desired heading, you can update the created table of contents with a mouse click.

Now you know how quickly you can create a table of contents in Word. If you want to know how you can use Word even more productively in your home office, we also have a post for that. And did you know that you can also comment on text in Word?

Sources: own research, Microsoft Support

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