How to Create a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word for Office 365

Creating a table of contents in Microsoft Word for Office 365 is a simple process that involves using the built-in heading styles and the table of contents feature. After completing these steps, you’ll have a professional-looking table of contents that can be updated as your document changes.

Once you’ve created your table of contents, any changes you make to your document, such as adding or removing sections, or changing page numbers, will be reflected in the table of contents once you update it. This ensures your table of contents remains accurate and up-to-date with the rest of your document.


When you’re dealing with a long document, a table of contents can be a real lifesaver. Not only does it give your readers a high-level overview of what they can expect from your document, but it also allows them to jump straight to the sections that interest them most. It’s a crucial element for reports, proposals, manuals, and any document that spans several pages. If you’re working in Microsoft Word for Office 365, creating a table of contents is a breeze, thanks to its intuitive tools and features.

Whether you’re a student compiling a thesis, a professional preparing a complex report, or just someone looking to organize their work better, mastering the table of contents feature in Word is a skill that will pay dividends. So, let’s dive in and learn how to transform your chaotic document into a well-organized masterpiece.

Related: How to Insert a Square Root Symbol in Word

Step by Step Tutorial: Creating a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word for Office 365

This section will guide you through creating a clean and professional table of contents in your Word document.

Step 1: Apply Heading Styles

Apply heading styles to the headings in your document that you want to include in the table of contents.

When you apply heading styles, you’re essentially marking text to be included in your table of contents. You can find these styles in the ‘Styles’ group on the ‘Home’ tab. Use ‘Heading 1’ for main sections, ‘Heading 2’ for sub-sections, and so on. This organization will reflect in your table of contents, creating a structured and easy-to-navigate document.

Step 2: Insert the Table of Contents

Place your cursor where you want the table of contents to appear, then go to the ‘References’ tab and click on ‘Table of Contents.’

You’ll find several built-in styles to choose from. These range from classic and simple to more complex and modern designs. Pick one that suits the tone and style of your document. Remember, you can always customize it later on.

Step 3: Customize Your Table of Contents (Optional)

Click on the table of contents in your document and select ‘Custom Table of Contents’ for more customization options.

Here, you can decide how many levels of headings you want to include, whether or not to show page numbers, and if you want the page numbers to be right-aligned. This is your chance to get your table of contents looking just right.

Step 4: Update the Table of Contents

As you edit your document, update the table of contents by clicking on it and selecting ‘Update Table.’

You can choose to update only the page numbers or the entire table. This is particularly useful if you’ve added or removed content and need your table of contents to reflect those changes accurately.


OrganizationA table of contents gives your document a clear structure, making it easier for readers to follow and understand the flow of your content.
ProfessionalismIt adds a level of professionalism to your document, showcasing your attention to detail and care in presenting your work.
NavigationIt provides a navigational tool that allows readers to quickly find and jump to specific sections within the document.


Time-ConsumingInitially setting up a table of contents can be time-consuming, especially for longer documents with many sections.
Manual UpdatingWhile Word can automatically update the table of contents, any structural changes to your document will require you to manually trigger an update.
Learning CurveFor those new to Word, there may be a learning curve in understanding how to apply heading styles and insert a table of contents correctly.

Additional Information

When creating a table of contents in Microsoft Word for Office 365, there are a few extra tips and insights that can enhance your experience. First, be consistent with your heading styles throughout your document to ensure a uniform look in your table of contents. Also, consider the depth of detail you want your table of contents to display – too many levels can make it look cluttered, while too few can oversimplify your document.

Additionally, if you’re working collaboratively, it’s essential to communicate with your team about the importance of using the correct heading styles to maintain the table of contents’ integrity. Lastly, remember that a table of contents is more than a functional element; it’s a reflection of your document’s organization and can significantly impact your reader’s experience.


  1. Apply heading styles to your document’s headings.
  2. Insert the table of contents at your desired location.
  3. Customize the table of contents if needed.
  4. Update the table of contents as your document changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I include additional text styles in my table of contents?

You can modify the table of contents to include any text styled as a heading, but standard text styles like ‘Normal’ won’t be included.

How do I remove a section from the table of contents?

To remove a section, change the heading style of that section to a non-heading style, like ‘Normal,’ then update the table of contents.

Can I have multiple tables of contents in a single document?

Yes, you can have multiple tables of contents, but each must be configured to include different heading levels or applied to separate sections of the document.

How do I change the appearance of the table of contents?

You can change the appearance by selecting ‘Custom Table of Contents’ and choosing different styles, fonts, and indentation options.

What should I do if my page numbers are incorrect?

Make sure all your content is correctly paginated, then update the table of contents to reflect the correct page numbers.


Creating a table of contents in Microsoft Word for Office 365 is a straightforward process, but it has a profound impact on the usability and professionalism of your document. By following the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be able to craft a functional and attractive table of contents that not only enhances your document’s appearance but also improves your readers’ experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned Word user or just getting started, the ability to create a table of contents is an essential skill that will serve you well in many writing scenarios. So, go ahead and give it a try – your documents (and your readers) will thank you for it.

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