How to Create and Modify a Table of Contents in Word 2013

By Lois Lowe

If you are using Word 2013 for technical and educational books you know that these usually include a Table of Contents, or TOC, to help readers quickly locate specific sections. A TOC lists each heading of the document, and either lists its page number (suitable for printed copies) or provides a live hyperlink to it (suitable for online copies).

How to define heading levels

TOCs are created based on the styles in your document. Each of the built-in heading styles in Word has a specific TOC level pre-assigned to it, but you can change these.

You can also assign TOC levels to other styles as well, including styles that you wouldn’t typically associate with headings. For example, you could assign a TOC level to a style you use for figure captions to include each figure caption in your TOC.

  1. Open a Word 2013 document.

    In this example, a TOC for a biography will be created.

  2. On the Home tab, click the dialog box launcher in the Styles group.

    The Styles pane opens.

  3. Scroll down in the document to the first heading: Early Career, in the example. Click to move the insertion point into it.

    In the Styles pane, the Major style is highlighted.

  4. Point to the Major style in the Styles pane, and when a down arrow appears to its right, click the arrow to open its menu and choose Modify.

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    The Modify Style dialog box opens.

  5. In the bottom-left corner of the dialog box, click the Format button and choose Paragraph.

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  6. In the Paragraph dialog box that appears, from the Outline Level drop-down list, choose Level 1, click OK to close the Paragraph dialog box, and then click OK to close the Modify Style dialog box.

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  7. Move the insertion point into the minor title of Birth of the Royal Australian Air Force, and then repeat Steps 4 through 6 to assign Level 2 to the Minor style.

  8. Click the Close (x) button on the Styles pane to close it.

  9. Save the document.

How to generate a TOC

You can place a TOC anywhere in a document, but it’s traditionally placed at the beginning, or at least near the beginning (for example, following a cover page). You have many options for generating the TOC, such as number alignment, hyperlinking, and the levels to include.

  1. Press Ctrl+Home to move the insertion point to the beginning of the document.

  2. Choose References→Table of Contents→Automatic Table 1.

    A default-formatted TOC appears in the document.

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  3. Press Ctrl+Z or click the Undo button on the Quick Access Toolbar to remove the TOC.

    You re-create it via different settings next.

  4. Choose References→Table of Contents→Custom Table of Contents.

    The Table of Contents dialog box opens.

  5. From the Formats drop-down list, choose Formal and then click OK.

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    A differently formatted TOC appears.

  6. Save the document.

How to update a TOC

When you make changes to the document, the TOC doesn’t update automatically. You can refresh it at any time, however.

  1. Scroll down to the first heading in your document (Early Career, for this example) and edit it to Early Life.

  2. Scroll back up to the top of the document and then, in the Table of Contents group of the References tab, choose Update Table.

    The Update Table of Contents dialog box opens.

  3. Select Update Entire Table, and then click OK.

    The TOC updates to show the new wording.

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  4. Save the document.

How to work with TOC styles

The text within the TOC is formatted according to special built-in TOC styles in Word. You can select a different format when creating the TOC (via the Formats drop-down list. You can also fine-tune the TOC’s styles by modifying the styles individually.

  1. In the TOC at the beginning of the document, click in the first line (for this example, Early Life).

  2. On the Home tab, click the dialog box launcher in the Styles group, opening the Styles pane.

  3. In the Styles pane, scroll down to the TOC styles.

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  4. Right-click the TOC 1 style in the Styles pane and choose Modify.

    The Modify Style dialog box opens.

  5. Click the Bold button to turn off the Bold attribute and then click OK.

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    All text using that style is updated (that is, all the Level 1 text in the TOC). Notice that all the headings that use the TOC 1 style are no longer bold.

  6. Click away from the TOC to deselect it and then click the Close (x) button on the Styles pane to close it.

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  7. Save the document.