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How to format the Table of Contents in Word?

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The Table of Contents (TOC) feature in Microsoft Word can help users easily navigate the Word document. It has clickable links to the exact page number of the corresponding heading. The software creates the TOC per the headings and sub-headings formatted in the document.

Word offers a few default TOC formats, but if you want to format the Table of Contents in Word to fit your design needs, here’s how.

Format Headings and Sub-headings

Select the text you want to format in your Word document as the heading and click on the List drop-down arrow from the Home menu. Select the list format from the List Library to format the heading.

For sub-headings, choose the same list, go down to Change List Level and select the corresponding level for your sub-heading.

Alternatively, you can navigate to Styles in the Home menu bar and click the heading format you want.

Avoid adding more than 3 levels for better readability and ease of use.

Add the Table of Contents (TOC) in Word

Open the Word document you’re working with. Go to References on the top menu bar. On the top-left corner, click the drop-down arrow under Table of Contents. Click any of the built-in tables available.

If you don’t want a TOC, click Remove Table of Contents.

Also read: How to change the colour of a Google Doc?

Format or Modify the TOC

Follow the above steps to add the Table of Contents, i.e., References < Table of Contents. Click on Custom Table of Contents in the drop-down that appears.

A pop-up will appear where you can modify several aspects of your Table of Contents. Choose From template in the Formats drop-down for flexibility in modification. However, if any of the other format types, like Classic, Formal or Simple, are suitable for you, go with one of them.

After choosing From template in the Format drop-down, click Modify. Select the TOC level you want to format, then tap Modify and play around with the text format you like. You can increase or decrease the font size, change the letter style from Bold to Italic, and change the colour of the text.

Format each of your TOC levels for maximum customisation.

You can change character spacing, all caps to all small, indentation and much more by clicking on the Format drop-down in the bottom-left corner.

Click OK until you see the option to Replace the Table of Contents. Click on that to apply the new formatting.

Also read: How to format to double spacing in Word?

Update the TOC

If you continue to work on the document, adding new headings and sub-headings and want these to reflect in the TOC, click on the TOC, click Update Table that appears at the top of the TOC, and either choose the Update page numbers only or the Update entire table option as per your preference.

If the Update Table option does not appear at the top, right-click on the TOC and choose Update Field from the drop-down that appears.

Like formatting the Table of Contents, Word has various features to help users create highly customisable documents. With quick tips and know-how, you can become a Word-wiz.

Also read: How to add page numbers in Word?


Vanashree Chowdhury

Being a tech enthusiast, Vanashree enjoys writing about technology and cybersecurity. She is a designer and marketer by profession and is deeply passionate about working on campaigns for social issues.