Create a Table of Contents in Word

To create a table of contents in Word you will have to make sure the document is formatted properly with Heading styles. The text you want displayed in your table of contents needs to be formatted as Heading 1 style paragraphs. Heading styles automatically link to the table of contents. To format a paragraph to a heading 1 style, first click the insertion point (cursor) in the paragraph. Then find the Styles group, from the Home tab. Click Heading 1.

Word Styles group

If you want the table of contents to have an outline feel, choose Heading 2 & 3 and so on. There can be up to 9 levels in a Word outline. 9 levels is a bit too much unless we are talking baseball.

After formatting the document with all the heading styles you think you will need, place the insertion point where you would like to insert the table of contents.

Then click the References tab, click the Table of Contents command, then choose one of the two automatic tables choices.


Picking the first automatic option will title it “Contents” and picking the second option will title it “Table of Contents”. It’s just a preference that you decide which you like better.

In the end you should get a nice table of contents with page numbers that match where your heading styles are located on.

The example I have below is by clicking Automatic Table 2 style.


If you need to modify the text and the page numbers change, or you need to add or remove heading styles you can update the table of contents without starting all over. Just click the Update Table command located in the Table of Contents group or by right click the table of contents.

Update Table of Contents Word

Look for the “Update entire table” option.

Update Table of Contents

The table of contents will make necessary changes to get it up to date.

TIP- Add shape page numbers by clicking the Insert tab, then click page number (choose top of page or bottom of page). Once you are looking at your page number style choices, scroll down because there are a lot of choices. The graphical ones are towards the bottom and definitely off the beaten path.

page number word

About Steve Chase

I'm a proud husband and dad to 4 boys! Microsoft Certified Trainer and Boy Scout Leader are some of things I call myself. The Cincinnati Reds are my favorite team! When not outdoors, I enjoy working with documents in Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, Visio and Photoshop. My wife, Erin, shares her awesome recipes on her blog at
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