How to Create a Table of Contents in Google Docs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a table of contents in Google Docs is a simple process that can greatly improve the organization and navigability of your document. All it takes is a few clicks to automatically generate a table of contents that links to each section header in your document. After reading this brief overview, you should be able to accomplish this task with ease.

Step by Step Tutorial: Creating a Table of Contents in Google Docs

Before jumping into the steps, let’s understand what we’re about to do. Creating a table of contents in Google Docs allows readers to quickly jump to different sections of your document. This is especially useful for longer documents with multiple chapters or sections.

Step 1: Apply Heading Styles

Apply heading styles to the section titles you want to include in your table of contents.

Applying heading styles is crucial for Google Docs to recognize which text should be included in the table of contents. You can find these styles in the toolbar under the “Styles” dropdown.

Step 2: Place Your Cursor Where You Want the Table of Contents

Click where you want your table of contents to appear in your document.

Typically, a table of contents is placed at the beginning of a document. Make sure you click on an empty line to avoid overwriting any text.

Step 3: Click on ‘Insert’ in the Toolbar

Go to the ‘Insert’ menu in the toolbar at the top of your Google Doc.

The ‘Insert’ menu is where you’ll find various options to add different elements to your document.

Step 4: Scroll Down to ‘Table of Contents’

Find and hover over ‘Table of Contents’ in the drop-down menu.

You’ll see different formats for your table of contents. Choose the one that best suits your document’s style.

Step 5: Choose a Table of Contents Style

Select the style of table of contents you prefer.

Google Docs offers a few different styles, some with links and some without. Pick the one that matches your needs.

After completing these steps, your table of contents will appear in the selected location in your document. As you add or remove content, you can update the table of contents by clicking the refresh button that appears when you hover over it.

Tips for Creating a Table of Contents in Google Docs

  • Make sure all your section titles have the appropriate heading style applied.
  • If you update your document, remember to refresh the table of contents to reflect the changes.
  • Keep your table of contents at the beginning of your document for easy access.
  • Use the linked table of contents style for easier navigation in digital documents.
  • If you’re working with a team, inform them about the table of contents so they can also update it when necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions about Creating a Table of Contents in Google Docs

How do I update my table of contents?

To update your table of contents, click the refresh button that appears when you hover over it.

Updating your table of contents is important after making changes to your document to ensure it stays accurate.

What happens if I don’t use heading styles?

If you don’t use heading styles, Google Docs won’t be able to automatically generate your table of contents.

Using heading styles is essential for the table of contents to work correctly. Make sure to apply them to all section titles you want included.

Can I customize the look of my table of contents?

Yes, you can adjust the font and size of your table of contents manually after it’s been generated.

While you can customize the look, remember that changing it too much might affect the automatic linking feature.

Is it possible to have a table of contents in a printed document?

Yes, you can include a table of contents in a printed document, but the links will not be functional.

If you’re printing the document, opt for a style without links or inform the readers that the links are for digital use only.

Can I create a table of contents in Google Docs on mobile?

Creating a table of contents on the Google Docs mobile app may have limited functionality compared to the desktop version.

For the best experience, it’s recommended to use the desktop version of Google Docs when creating a table of contents.


  1. Apply heading styles to section titles.
  2. Place your cursor where you want the table of contents.
  3. Click on ‘Insert’ in the toolbar.
  4. Scroll down to ‘Table of Contents’ in the drop-down menu.
  5. Choose a table of contents style.


Creating a table of contents in Google Docs is a game-changer for anyone looking to improve the structure and accessibility of their documents. Whether you’re a student organizing a research paper, a professional compiling a report, or a writer working on your next big novel, this feature simplifies navigation for both you and your readers. With the step-by-step tutorial provided, you now have the know-how to quickly implement this feature into your documents. The tips section further enhances your understanding, ensuring your table of contents is not only functional but also neat and professional.

Moreover, the FAQ section answers those lingering questions that might have popped up while you were creating your table of contents. Remember, a well-organized document speaks volumes about the effort and care put into it. It’s a reflection of your commitment to clarity and user-friendliness.

Ultimately, Google Docs is more than just a writing tool; it’s a powerful platform that, when used to its full potential, can elevate your work significantly. So go ahead, give it a try and watch your documents transform from simple text to well-structured, easily navigable pieces of work. After all, in the world of writing, presentation is just as important as content.

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