24 Free Table of Contents Templates and Examples (Word | PDF)

When working on extremely long Microsoft Word documents such as a huge report or academic paper, it most likely will extend for hundreds of pages. Due to the large nature of this document, it can be quite challenging to know exactly a page that has particular information. This can be very frustrating, and you’ll need to go over the hundreds of pages searching for the content you want. However, you don’t have to deal with this issue when working with Microsoft Word, as you can create a table of content that makes it simple to plan and navigate through the document.

If you want further details on the Table of content, look no further. Here’s an article going over all the details you need to know about the Table of content.

What Is a Table of Contents?

The Table of content, or as it’s commonly referred to as the TOC, acts as the list of chapters you’ll see at the start of a book stating the document’s different sections and page numbers that these sections start. There’s a common misconception that the Table of content should only be used for huge novels, dense reports, but this is far from the truth. You can also use the Table of content for something simple as a school assignment or a daily journal. Therefore, you shouldn’t feel shy about creating a table of content any time you feel that having one is appropriate.

How to create a Table of Content

When looking to create a table of content, you need to follow a couple of steps. Fortunately, Microsoft Word makes this a lot easier for you by automatically building the TOC. After that, your work will be outlining the content and later stating the heading styles by observing basic formatting. Here are the steps you should follow when creating a table of content.

  • Use heading styles to format your document: Choose each chapter in the document and apply Heading Styles to all of them. This will be marking up the section headers to make them easily recognizable by Microsoft Word.
    • To do this, head to Ribbon > Home > Styles. Consequently, choose the text and apply headings for every text which should be included in the TOCs.
    • With help from the heading styles, you can design a hierarchy in the main chapters. For example, using Heading 1 for the new chapters or sections and subsequently making use of Heading 2 for the subsections in each particular section and Heading 3 for the smaller topics or units in them.
    • Microsoft Word will then scan the document for all the text formatted as Heading 1, 2, or 3 and use these when creating the Table of content format.
  • Place the TOC on the page: You should then position the cursor on the exact spot you want the Table of content to show on your Word document. This typically is at the start of your document.
  • Click on the TOC command: Head over to Ribbon > References > Table of Contents and pick either of the two automatic kinds you see there. These two only differ in the heading of “Table of Contents” or “Contents” at the top.
  • The TOC update is added automatically: Your document is scanned by MS Word, which then uses the heading styles in building the sections and subsections order as well as their page numbers. This is the Table of content’s skeleton, and you can work on it further to make it look appealing to the eye.
  • Update the TOC anytime you want: Feel free to further update the TOC that was created automatically. Update the TOC by changing the styles, changing the text, or rearranging the content. You must also update the Table of Content after making changes to the content affecting the page numbers. When updating the TOC created automatically, you should click on Reference > Update Table.
  • You can also select to Update entire Table or Update page numbers only when looking to update the text and page numbers.
  • Manually create the TOC: With the automatic method of creating the TOC so effortless, why bother creating one manually? There are two reasons why this may be so including;
  • The document doesn’t have any styles that Microsoft Word can identify
  • The document has numerous varieties, thereby making an automatic table of content challenges.

When creating a manual TOC, head to Reference > Table of Contents,> Click on the dropdown to show the option for the Manual Table.

The Table of Content on MS Word is usually inserted with placeholders making it easier to edit. You can adjust this using your colors and fonts. In addition, remember to add the page numbers manually.

You can’t automatically update the Table of Contents when it’s created manually. However, you shouldn’t settle for this basic TOC created by Microsoft Word. Instead, you can alter the TOC and even build a personalized TOC by yourself.

Table of Contents Templates & Examples

How to customize the Table of Contents

Do you want to give your Table of Contents a customized look? If so, here are the steps you need to follow.

  • Select A Different Format for Your Table of Content. It’s possible to change the whole Table by simply selecting a different format. To do this, head to the General section and then expand the Formats dropdown and select the appearance.
  • Change How Items on The Table of Content Look. The style definitions usually determine the final look of your Table of Content. You can also change the TOC’s overall appearance by making custom styles for the headings. These improved styles can be saved together with in-built ones and implemented throughout the document to give it a consistent appearance.

Here are the steps to follow when doing this;

  • Click on Modify: If the Modify button has been grayed out, adjust the Formats to From Template.
  • In the Styles list: Click on the level you’re hoping to change and consequently click on Modify. You’ll see TOC1, which usually corresponds to your document’s heading level 1, TOC2 to heading 2, TOC3 to heading level 3, and the same is replicated across the different TOCs and headings.
  • You can alter the color or font by going to the Modify Style dialog box. You can also put in place other formatting changes such as text indentation, and after that, click OK.
  • Before clicking OK, there’s the option to choose if the style changes should be applied only to the current document or across every other future document. To save this for future use, go to Add to Styles gallery and click on the checkbox.
  • Change The Style Headings Level Being Displayed. You can include major sections or itemize the Table of Contents. Using the Show levels number, you can adjust the number of levels shown on the TOC. The “Levels” refers to the headings style applied to the different sections.
    For example, H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and so on. By setting it on 2, the Heading 2 style is shown, or every text that’s got the Heading 1 style.
  • Add or Change The Dot Leaders In The Table of Content. The dots or lines connecting the items showing on the index to page numbers are referred to as dot leaders. These leader lines are stated in different style guides as vital sections of thesis documents.
    In the TOC dialog box, click the Tab leader list’s dropdown and choose the dotted line option. You can also pick the leader line that you wish or choose “none” to take it out from the Table of Content.
  • Add A Non-Heading Style. After inserting an automatic Table of Content, Microsoft Word doesn’t include a non-heading style. This is because Word, by default, only adds headings 1 to 9 and then provides techniques of adding another style created in the index.
    For instance, if you want to add a different heading, “An In-Depth Guide,” at the Table of Content and content top. To do this, click on the Options button in the TOC dialog box, and a screen will pop up.
    This will display the styles being used only to the Table of Content levels. These are typically three styles, Heading 1, Heading 2, and Heading 3, and they’re charted as levels 1, 2, and 3.
    Head down to the box until you see Title, which doesn’t have a mapped Table of Content level. To map the Title, enter one at the Table of the Content top level.
    Consequently, click twice on OK to leave the dialogs. Word will then request you to replace these contents, and you should click Yes for the TOC to be replaced.
  • Make A Clickable TOC. In today’s digital age, it’s expected that you create a hyperlinked TOC as it makes navigation a lot quicker. In addition, it’s a condition when submitting a dissertation or thesis.
    To add these hyperlinks, you should click the checkbox Use hyperlinks instead of page numbers.
    In addition, make sure to uncheck the Show page numbers box when looking only to use hyperlinks.
  • Put A Simple Border Surrounding the TOC. Using the Microsft Word feature Shapes, add a border around your Table of Contents. Set Shape Fill to “No Fill” and then use Format Shape or add Shape Styles when designing the pseudo-border surrounding the Table.

Final Thoughts

The Table of Content helps ensure your large documents be it a thesis or dissertation, are a lot easier to navigate when searching for content. In this guide, you’ve been taken through the steps to follow when a TOC. And if you didn’t know how to do this, reading this guide has no doubt provided you with great insights.

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