Create a Table of Contents in Word 2010 Using Outline Levels

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Introduction to Table of Contents

Introduction to Table of Contents
Introduction to Table of Contents. Photo © Rebecca Johnson

Adding a table of contents to your document can actually be pretty easy, as long as you have the proper formatting in your documents. Once the formatting is set-up, inserting a table of contents into your Word 2010 documents takes just a few clicks.

You can format your document two different ways. The most common way is to use styles, such as Heading 1, Heading 2, and Heading 3, and Heading 4. Microsoft Word will automatically pick of these styles and add them to your table of contents. You can also use outline levels in the body of your document. This is a bit more complicated and you run the risk of messing up your formatting unless you have a strong understanding of Word outline levels.

Once you have the formatting applied to your document, you can add a pre-formatted table of contents with 3 clicks of your mouse, or you can insert a table of contents manually by typing each item.

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Format Your Document Using Outline Levels

Format Your Document Using Outline Levels
Format Your Document Using Outline Levels. Photo © Rebecca Johnson

Using Microsoft Words outline levels makes creating a table of contents easy. You apply an outline style to each item that you want to appear in your table of contents. Word automatically picks up 4 outline levels.

Level 1 is placed on the left margin and is formatted with the largest text.

Level 2 is usually indented ½ inch from the left margin and appears directly under the Heading 1 level. It also defaults to a format that is smaller than the first level.

Level 3 is indented, by default, 1 inch from the left margin and is placed under the level 2 entry.

Level 4 is indented 1 ½ inches from the left margin. It appears below the level 3 entry.

You can add more levels to your table of contents if needed.

To apply outline levels:

  1. Select the View tab and click Outline to switch to Outline View. The Outlining tab is now visible and selected.
  2. Select the text that you want to appear in your table of contents.
  3. Click the outline level that you want to apply to the text in the Outline Tools section in the Outlining tab. Remember, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4 are automatically picked up by the table of contents.
  4. Repeat the steps until levels are applied to all of the text that you want to appear in your table of contents.

 

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Insert an Automatic Table of Contents

Insert an Automatic Table of Contents
Insert an Automatic Table of Contents. Photo © Rebecca Johnson

Now that your document is formatted, inserting a preformatted table of contents takes just a few clicks.

  1. Click in your document to place your insertion point where you want your table of contents to appear.
  2. Select the References tab.
  3. Click the drop-down arrow on the Table of Contents button.
  4. Select either Automatic Table of Contents 1 or Automatic Table of Contents 2.

Your table of contents is placed in your document.

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Insert a Manual Table of Contents

Insert a Manual Table of Contents
Insert a Manual Table of Contents. Photo © Rebecca Johnson

A manual table of contents is a bit more work, but it offers you more flexibility in what gets placed in your table of contents. You must enter the table of contents items manually, as well as update the items manually.

  1. Click in your document to place your insertion point where you want your table of contents to appear.
  2. Select the References tab.
  3. Click the drop-down arrow on the Table of Contents button.
  4. Select Manual Table.
  5. Click on each entry and type the text that you want to have appear.
  6. Click on each page number and type the page number that the text appears on.

Your table of contents is placed in your document.

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Update Your Table of Contents

Update Your Table of Contents
Update Your Table of Contents. Photo © Rebecca Johnson

One of the benefits of using an automatic table of contents is how easy it is to update them once you change the document.

  1. Select the References tab.
  2. Click the Update Table button.

Your table of contents is updated. Remember, this does not work if you inserted a manual table.

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Table of Contents Links

When you insert a table of contents, each item is hyperlinked to the text in the document. This makes it easy for readers to navigate to the specific location in the document.

Press the CTRL key and click on the link.

Some computers are setup to follow hyperlinks without holding down the Control key. In this case, you can just click on the hyperlink.

Give It A Try!

Now that you have seen how to insert a table of contents using styles, give it a shot in your next long document!