How to Create a Table of Contents in Word 2016

By Dan Gookin

The trick to creating a tablet of contents, or TOC, for your document is to use Word 2016’s Heading styles. Use Heading 1 for main heads, Heading 2 for subheads, and Heading 3 for lower-level heads and titles. Word’s Table of Contents command uses those formats to build a table of contents field, which reflects the heading names and their page numbers.

Providing that you’ve used the Heading (or equivalent) styles in your document, follow these steps to create a table of contents:

  1. Create a separate page for the TOC.

    Word places the TOC field at the insertion pointer’s location, though you probably prefer to have the thing on its own page. A blank page near the start of your document is ideal for a TOC.

  2. Click the mouse to place the insertion pointer on the blank page.

    The TOC field is inserted at that point.

  3. Click the References tab.

  4. In the Table of Contents group, click the Table of Contents button.

    The Table of Contents menu appears.

  5. Choose a format.

    The TOC is created and placed in your document, page numbers and all.

Above the TOC, you may also want to add a title — something clever, such as Table of Contents. Do not format that title as a heading unless you want it included in the table of contents.

  • When the steps in this section don’t produce the effect you intended, it usually means that your document doesn’t use the Heading styles.

  • If your document uses your own heading styles, ensure that the paragraph format specifies the proper outline level.

  • The TOC field is static, so it won’t reflect further edits in your document. To update the field, click once to select it. On the References tab, click the Update Table button. Use the Update Table of Contents dialog box to choose what to update. Click OK.

  • Cool people in publishing refer to a table of contents as a TOC, pronounced “tee-o-see” or “tock.”)