Editing long documents can be a nightmare. As writers, it’s exciting to see your work in progress grow, but daunting when it comes to revisions.

One way to ease those editing pains is to use Headings and a Table of Contents to organize your work into sections, whether those are chapters or something more tailored to your work. Microsoft Word makes this extremely easy to do, and easy to update your Table of Contents once you move Chapter 2 after Chapter 4.

Here’s the step-by-step:

Set the Heading Styling

Write the text of your section heading (or chapter title), then highlight the text and select the desired heading in the top ribbon.

Set the Heading Type in the top ribbon

Note that styles can be customized, and that Word is fairly logical; Heading 2 will be automatically considered a sub-category of Heading 1, etc.

Add Page Numbers for Easy Reference

If you haven’t already, you’ll want to add page numbers to your document as well.

On the Insert tab of the ribbon, click the Page Number dropdown and select the numbering style you prefer. Note styles again can be customized here.

Set the Page Number style in the Insert tab

Insert the Table of Contents

On the reference tab of the ribbon, click the Table of Contents dropdown. Make sure your cursor is where you’d like your ToC to appear in the document. 

Add the Table of Contents from the References tab

Again, style can be customized here.

You can use your Table of Contents to jump to the chapter of your choosing by clicking the chapter on the ToC or from the Navigation tab.

Use the Navigation window from the View tab

Updating Your Table of Contents

Once you’ve made changes in your document, you can update your ToC by clicking the Update Table under the References tab.

Update your ToC if you add, move, or remove sections to your document

Word will now ask if you want to update the entire table (your ToC) or just the page numbers. Typically, you’ll want to update the entire table.

3 thoughts on “Ease Editing with Microsoft Word’s Table of Contents Feature

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