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 in your document. This table of contents acts as both a guide and navigation tool that enables 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.

Instructions in this article apply to Word for Microsoft 365, Word Online, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, Word 2010, Word 2007, Word for Microsoft 365 for Mac, Word 2019 for Mac, 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 the 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 the References tab.

    Word with the References tab highlighted
  3. Select Table of Contents and choose one of the automatic styles.

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

    Table of Contents button in Word
  4. The table of contents appears in the location you selected.

How to Update the Table of Contents

To update the table of contents when you make changes to the document that affect the table of contents, select any place in the table of contents and choose Update Table. Then, choose to either update page numbers only or the entire table of contents.

When applying heading styles that are incorporated automatically, update the entire table to account for any text edits or page changes in the document.

A table of contents in a Word document with the Update Table button highlighted

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 a table of contents. To adjust the font and size, highlight the text as you normally would in a Word document, then go to the Home tab to select a font, size, color, or other text format. To access advanced font customization options, select the More Options icon.

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