How to create a table of contents


A detailed and clearly formatted contents page adds a professional touch to any piece of work. It can be added to documents such as project reports or minutes of a meeting. As a guide we would recommend a table of contents is used in any document of 10 or more pages to help the reader navigate through it. It is really important to have one on most University essays and reports and if it is done well there are definitely marks to be gained for this.

Time needed:

15 minutes

Here’s how

    Step 1: Add page numbers to your document

  1. The Table of Contents can display page numbers alongside each of your headings in order to guide the person reading the document. Click here to view our tutorial if you are not sure how to add these.

    Step 2: Add the Table of Contents at the beginning of your document

  1. Open the Word document you want to add a Table of Contents too.
  2. Click in an empty space where you want to insert the Table of Contents. This doesn’t have to be an entirely blank page. Adding in a Page Break later will move down any text below your new table.
  3. On the menu at the top of the page, click on References. Choose the Table of Contents button on the far left-hand side of the options that appear.
  4. The easiest way to get started is to choose an Automatic Table of Contents as shown in the drop-down menu. Click on one of them to get started.
  5. If you don’t have any text in your Word document yet, it will now look something like this.

    Step 3: Mark the headings you want to appear in your Table of Contents

  1. Select a piece of text that you want to make a heading or subheading.
  2. On the Home tab on the menu ribbon, you will see a section called Styles. Choose from Heading 1, Heading 2 or Heading 3 depending on the importance of the text you are highlighting.
  3. You will see the format of the text change to that particular style. If you wish to change the colour, size or font you can do so as long as the text remains marked up as Heading 1, 2 or 3.

    Step 4: Updating the table of contents

  1. Now you have created your table of contents, you may be wondering what happens when you add more information. The page numbers will change as the document gets longer and it is likely you will have additional headings to add in.
  2. Now that you have done the hard work setting it up, it is so simple to update the table of contents. The easiest way to do this is as follows.
  3. Right-click inside the table and select Update Field.
  4. A small box appears. Choose from update entire table or the update page numbers only.
  5. Click OK to refresh the table of contents and see the changes.

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