How to Add Table of Contents in Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

Adding a table of contents in Word is a simple process that can save you time and make your document look professional. With just a few clicks, you can create a table of contents that automatically updates as you add or remove content. Here’s how to do it.

Step by Step Tutorial: Adding a Table of Contents in Word

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to understand what we’re aiming to achieve. A table of contents (TOC) provides a quick way for readers to navigate through your document, and it gives your work a more polished look.

Step 1: Use Styles to Format Your Headings

Apply the appropriate heading styles to the sections you want to include in your TOC.

Word uses heading styles to generate a TOC, so it’s crucial to format your headings correctly. Highlight the text you want to include in the TOC, go to the ‘Home’ tab, and select the appropriate heading style from the ‘Styles’ group.

Step 2: Place Your Cursor Where You Want the TOC

Click where you want the TOC to appear, usually at the beginning of the document.

Think of this as setting the stage for your TOC. You might want it right after the title page or before the introduction. Click on the spot where you’d like the TOC to be inserted.

Step 3: Go to the References Tab and Click on Table of Contents

Open the ‘References’ tab and select ‘Table of Contents.’

You’ll find the ‘Table of Contents’ button in the ‘Table of Contents’ group. Clicking on it will present you with several preset styles to choose from.

Step 4: Choose a Style or Format the TOC Manually

Pick a pre-built style or select ‘Custom Table of Contents’ to customize it.

If you’re in a hurry or want a standard look, choose one of the pre-built styles. If you want more control over how your TOC looks, go with ‘Custom Table of Contents.’

After these steps, you will have a functioning table of contents in your Word document. It will automatically update as you add or delete content or as you move things around.

Tips for Adding a Table of Contents in Word

  • Use consistent heading styles throughout your document for the best results.
  • Remember to update the TOC if you make changes to the document structure.
  • Consider using hyperlinks in your TOC for easy navigation in digital documents.
  • If your document is long, break the TOC into sections for better readability.
  • Customize the TOC’s appearance by modifying the font size, style, and color to match your document.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will my table of contents update automatically?

Yes, but you need to manually prompt Word to update it if you make changes to your headings.

Can I add a TOC to an existing document?

Absolutely, just make sure to apply heading styles to the sections you want included before generating the TOC.

What if I don’t like the preset TOC styles?

You can create a custom TOC with specific formatting to match your preferences.

Can I include subheadings in my TOC?

Yes, if you use the appropriate heading levels, subheadings will appear indented under main headings.

How do I remove a TOC?

Click on the TOC and then select ‘Remove Table of Contents’ from the ‘Table of Contents’ menu.


  1. Format headings using styles.
  2. Click where you want the TOC.
  3. Open the ‘References’ tab.
  4. Choose a TOC style or customize.


Creating a table of contents in Word might seem like a small detail, but it can greatly enhance the readability and professionalism of your document. Whether you’re working on a thesis, a business proposal, or a manual, a TOC is a must. Plus, it makes navigation a breeze for your readers, especially in lengthy documents. With the easy steps outlined in this article, you can add a table of contents to your Word document in no time. Remember, the key is to use heading styles consistently and update the TOC as necessary to reflect any changes in your document structure. Happy writing, and may your table of contents always be up-to-date!

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