How to Insert a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

Create an easy-to-navigate document in just a few steps

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Microsoft Word can create a table of contents that can be instantly updated to reflect additions and changes within your document. It acts as both a guide and navigation tool within the document, enabling readers to quickly find the information they need. The easiest way to build and maintain a table of contents is by using Styles. This guide will show you how.

The instructions in this guide are for Word for Office 365, Word for Office 365 for Mac, Word for the web, Word 2019, Word 2019 for Mac, Word 2016, Word 2013, Word 2010, Word 2007, and Word 2016 for Mac.

How to Insert a Table of Contents

A table of contents in Microsoft Word is based on the headings in your document. Headings formatted with the H1 style become main topics, while headings formatted with H2 become subtopics. You may be working with a document that's already written and needs a Table of Contents added, but you want to preserve the font and formatting of the document. If you want to customize the automatic headings to match what's already in the document, format them with the H1 or H2 styles as appropriate. Once that's done, follow these steps:

  1. Place your cursor where you want to add the table of contents.

  2. Go to References > Table of Contents and choose one of the automatic styles.

    Screenshot of table of contents styles in Microsoft Word 365
  3. If you make changes to your document that affect the table of contents, you can update it by clicking on it and choosing Update Table. You can choose to update page numbers only or the entire table of contents. When applying heading styles that are incorporated automatically, you should opt to update the entire table to account for any text edits or page changes within the document.

    Screenshot of the Update Table option in Microsoft Word 365

For Word 2003 and earlier, you needed to select Insert > Reference > Tables and Indexes, then select the Table of Contents option.

How to Use and Customize the Table of Contents

An automatic table of contents has hyperlinks built in to navigate through the document quickly. To use a hyperlink, hover the mouse over the appropriate entry in the table and Control+Click to follow the link. This is an especially helpful tool for long documents.

There are also many ways to customize your table of contents. The font and size can be adjusted by highlighting the text as you normally would in a Word document, then going to the Home tab to select a font, size, color, etc. Access advanced font customization options by clicking on the More Options icon.

Additionally, you can find more customization options by right-clicking the table and selecting Edit Field. Scroll down and select TOC, then Table of Contents. Here, you can choose whether or not to show page numbers, page number alignment, general formatting, and more.