How to Expand and Contract Topics in a Word 2013 Outline

By Dan Gookin

Unless you tell 2013 Word otherwise, it displays all topics in your outline, from top to bottom — everything. You may need to expand and contract your topics to see a grand overview of only the main topics or only Level 2 topics. Displaying all topics is fine for the details, but you may need a different view.

A topic with subtopics has a plus sign in its circle. To collapse the topic and temporarily hide its subtopics, click the Collapse button or press Alt+Shift+_ (underline). You can also double-click the plus sign with the mouse to collapse a topic.

To expand a collapsed topic, click the Expand button or press Alt+Shift++ (plus sign). Again, you can also click the plus sign with the mouse to expand a collapsed topic.

Rather than expand and collapse topics all over, you can view your outline at any level by choosing that level from the Show Level drop-down list. For example, choose Level 2 from the list so that only Level 1 and Level 2 topics are displayed; Levels 3 and higher are hidden.

  • When a topic is collapsed and it has subtopics, you see a fuzzy line extend over the last part of the topic text.

  • To see the entire outline, choose Show All Levels from the Show Level drop-down list on the Outlining tab.

  • If you have wordy topic levels, you can direct Word to display only the first topic line by clicking to put a check mark by the Show First Line Only option, found on the Outlining tab in the Outline Tools group.