Microsoft Word: How to Insert Table of Contents

Inserting a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word is a valuable tool for organizing and enhancing the readability of your documents, particularly longer ones.

Microsoft Word offers a wealth of powerful features to streamline document creation, and one of the most useful tools for longer documents is the Table of Contents (TOC). A TOC helps readers navigate through your document, providing a structured overview of its contents. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of inserting a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word.

Step 1: Organize Your Document

Before you create a Table of Contents, make sure your document is well-structured using appropriate headings and subheadings. Microsoft Word relies on the document’s headings to generate the TOC, so it’s crucial to use the “Styles” feature to format your headings consistently.

Step 2: Place Your Cursor

Put your cursor in the location where you want the Table of Contents to appear. Typically, this is at the beginning of your document, but it can be inserted anywhere you prefer.

Step 3: Insert the Table of Contents

Now, let’s create the Table of Contents:

  1. Go to the “References” tab in the Microsoft Word ribbon.
  2. Click on the “Table of Contents” dropdown button. You’ll see various built-in TOC styles.
  3. Choose one of the styles, or click “Custom Table of Contents” to access more options for customization.

Step 4: Customize the Table of Contents (Optional)

If you chose “Custom Table of Contents” in the previous step, you can customize the TOC to fit your needs:

  • Adjust the number of heading levels to include in the TOC.
  • Change the tab leader style (dots, dashes, or none).
  • Modify the formatting of the TOC entries, such as font, size, and style.
  • Set the page number alignment and other formatting options.

Step 5: Update the Table of Contents

After inserting the Table of Contents, it may not reflect the latest changes in your document automatically. To update it:

  1. Click inside the Table of Contents.
  2. You’ll notice a notification prompting you to update the Table of Contents. Click on it, or right-click and select “Update Field.”
  3. Choose “Update Entire Table” to refresh the entire TOC.

Step 6: Further Formatting (Optional)

You can further format and customize the appearance of your Table of Contents by modifying the styles associated with TOC levels. To do this:

  1. Go to the “Home” tab.
  2. Find the “Styles” group.
  3. Right-click on the TOC style you want to modify and select “Modify.”
  4. Adjust the formatting options to your liking, such as font, size, and indentation.


Inserting a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word is a valuable tool for organizing and enhancing the readability of your documents, particularly longer ones. By following these steps, you can easily create a Table of Contents that helps your readers navigate your document effortlessly, saving time and improving the overall document experience.


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