How to add or update a table of contents in Microsoft Word

Updated: 07/31/2022 by Computer Hope
Illustration: Microsoft Word table of contents.

A table of contents helps readers know what information is contained in a document, and where it is located. In Microsoft Word, a table of contents can also allow a reader to jump to a specific section of a document by clicking a header. To add or update a table of contents in your Word document, select from the links below to view the appropriate steps.

Add a new table of contents

  1. Click a page in the document where you want the table of contents added.
  2. Click the References tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Table of Contents section, click the Table of Contents option.
  4. In the dialog box or pop-down window, select one of the available table of contents layouts to automatically insert it to the current page of the document.

Insert table of contents in Microsoft Word

Tip

In step 4, you can select the Custom Table of Contents option to add a customized table of contents.

Update an existing table of contents

  1. Locate and click the table of contents in the document.
  2. Right-click the table of contents and select Update Field in the pop-up menu.
  3. In the Update Table of Contents window, select the Update entire table option and click the OK button in Windows 10. button.

Update a table of contents in Microsoft Word

Format a table of contents

To format a table of contents, you can set automatic formatting settings or manually format individual entries in the table.

Automatically format

After creating a table of contents, you can modify the formatting so that automatic updates replicate it.

  1. Click the References tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Table of Contents section, click the Table of Contents option.
  3. In the dialog box or pop-down window, select the Custom Table of Contents option near the bottom.

Custom Table of Contents option in Microsoft Word.

  1. In the Table of Contents window, click the Modify button near the bottom-right corner.
  2. Select one of the table of content styles in the Styles window and click the Modify button.

Table of Contents Style selections window in Microsoft Word.

  1. Click the Format button in the bottom-left corner of the Modify Style window, and select an option to modify. For example, you can select Font and change the font type, size, and color, and set it to bold or italic.

Modify Style window in Microsoft Word, to modify a table of contents formatting.

  1. After making your desired modifications to the table of contents style you selected, click OK on each of the open windows to save the changes.

Now, when updating the entire table of contents, the formatting options you set are automatically applied.

Manually format

After creating a table of contents, you can manually modify the formatting of text and numbers, including text size, text color, bold, and italic.

  1. Select the text in the table of contents that you want to format.
  1. In the Ribbon, on the Home tab, select the new font type, size, or color, or click the bold or italic button. All selected text is changed.

Using the steps above, you can select and format each line in the table contents to be different from other lines, if desired.

Note

If you make any manual formatting changes in the table of contents and later use the "Update entire table" option to update entries in the table, your formatting changes are overwritten.

Add entries to an existing table of contents

Add new entry automatically

The most effective way to add entries to a table of contents is to create more content with headings in the document.

  1. Insert one or more headings in the document using the headings options in the Styles section of the Home tab in the Ribbon.

Headings options in Microsoft Word Ribbon.

  1. Add content below each new heading.
  2. Follow the steps in the update an existing table of contents section above to automatically add the new heading entries.

Add new entry manually

If preferred, you can manually add entries to the table of contents.

Note

If you add a manual entry in the table of contents and later use the automatic "Update entire table" option, your manual entries are dropped from the table.

  1. Add new content to the document, if not already done.
  2. In the existing table of contents, determine where you want to add an entry. Then, place the text cursor at the end of the entry above where you want the new entry.
  3. Press the Enter key to add a new blank line in the table of contents.
  4. Type the text for the new entry.
  5. Type the page number where the new content exists in the document for the new table of contents entry.
  6. Move the text cursor to the left of the page number. Repeatedly type the character or symbol used to separate the entry text from the page number, until it is to the right. The page number should line up with the page numbers of other entries in the table of contents.

For example, in the table of contents below, the "New manual entry" text and page number 3 is separated by multiple periods.

Text and page number in a manual entry separated by multiple periods.