How to Make a Table of Contents in Google Docs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a table of contents in Google Docs is simple. Begin by navigating to the “Insert” tab, select “Table of contents,” and choose your preferred format. Next, format your headings using the Styles menu to ensure they appear in the table. Finally, update the table as you make changes to your document for accurate page numbers and headings.

After completing the table of contents, you will have a professional-looking document that allows readers to easily navigate through sections. This is particularly useful for lengthy documents such as reports, manuals, or academic papers.


When it comes to creating a well-organized document, nothing beats the clarity and ease of navigation provided by a table of contents. It’s a roadmap of your document, guiding readers through each section with precision. Particularly in Google Docs, where sharing and collaboration happen in real-time, having a table of contents can make it much easier for your collaborators to find their way around your document.

But why is this important? Imagine you’ve crafted a lengthy report or you’re working on your thesis—without a table of contents, your readers might get lost in the sea of information. It’s not just about convenience; it’s about professionalism and functionality. Whether you’re a student, a teacher, a business professional, or anyone who deals with documents, knowing how to add a table of contents in Google Docs is a skill that will undoubtedly come in handy. Stick around as we dive into the steps to accomplish this, and explore the benefits and potential drawbacks of using Google Docs for your document creation needs.

Related: How to Add Headings in Google Docs

Step by Step Tutorial

Before we delve into the steps, it’s important to note that creating a table of contents in Google Docs will help you organize your document more efficiently. It also makes it much easier for readers to jump to specific sections without scrolling through pages.

Step 1: Open your Google Docs document

Open the document you want to add a table of contents to.
This is where it all starts. You need to have your document ready, preferably with all the content already in it. This makes it easier to format and ensures that your table of contents accurately reflects the structure of your document.

Step 2: Use the Heading Styles

Format your document’s headings using the Styles menu.
This step is crucial because Google Docs uses these styles to determine what to include in your table of contents. Make sure to apply Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3 styles accordingly to the titles you want to appear in your table of contents.

Step 3: Insert the Table of Contents

Navigate to the ‘Insert’ tab, select ‘Table of contents,’ and choose a format.
Google Docs offers several formats for your table of contents, including ones with or without links. Choose the one that best fits the style of your document.

Step 4: Update the Table of Contents

Update the table of contents as you make changes to your document.
As you add or edit content in your document, your table of contents won’t automatically update. Remember to click on the table and then the “Refresh” button to update it.


Easy NavigationA table of contents allows readers to easily jump to different sections of your document, saving time and improving the reader’s experience.
Professional LookDocuments with a table of contents appear more professional and organized, which can be particularly important in formal or academic settings.
Dynamic UpdateGoogle Docs allows for the table of contents to be updated easily as your document changes, ensuring your table always reflects the current structure.


Manual UpdatingUnlike some other word processors, Google Docs requires you to manually update the table of contents, which can be overlooked and lead to inaccuracies.
Limited CustomizationGoogle Docs offers limited options for customizing the appearance of your table of contents, which could be a limitation for those seeking more control over design.
Potential for ClutterIf not used properly, a table of contents can add unnecessary clutter to a document, particularly if the document is not long or complex enough to warrant one.

Additional Information

When working on a table of contents in Google Docs, one key tip is to regularly update it, especially if you’re collaboratively editing the document. It’s easy to overlook this step, but it ensures that any changes in headings and page numbers are accurately reflected. Also, consider the hierarchy of your headings; a table of contents will look best when there’s a clear order to your sections and subsections.

Remember, Google Docs saves your work continuously, so once you’ve added your table of contents, it’ll be saved automatically. Plus, you can always undo changes if you need to. Lastly, if you’re working on a very long and complex document, you might want to consider breaking it into smaller documents with individual tables of contents for easier management.


  1. Open your Google Docs document.
  2. Format your headings using the Styles menu.
  3. Insert the table of contents from the ‘Insert’ tab.
  4. Update the table of contents as changes are made.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I customize the look of my table of contents?

Yes, you can choose from several pre-set formats, but Google Docs does not offer extensive customization options for the table of contents.

Will the page numbers in the table of contents update automatically?

No, you need to manually refresh the table of contents to update page numbers and headings after making changes in your document.

Can I link headings in the table of contents to the corresponding sections?

Yes, Google Docs offers formats for a table of contents that include links to the headings.

Is there a limit to how many headings can be included in the table of contents?

No, there’s no set limit. However, for the sake of clarity, it’s best to only include main headings and subheadings.

Can I remove the table of contents without affecting the rest of my document?

Absolutely, you can delete the table of contents just like any other element in your document without impacting the other content.


Knowing how to make a table of contents in Google Docs is a valuable skill that enhances the functionality and professionalism of your documents. While there are some limitations in terms of customization and the need for manual updates, the benefits of easy navigation and a polished look are undeniable.

By following the straightforward steps outlined in this article, you’ll be able to create a table of contents that will elevate your document and provide a better experience for your readers. Whether you’re a student, educator, or professional, mastering this feature in Google Docs is sure to make your document creation process smoother and more efficient.

Get Our Free Newsletter

How-to guides and tech deals

You may opt out at any time.
Read our Privacy Policy