Several clients have asked me how to create a Table of Contents using the newer versionsMicrosoft Word logo of Microsoft Word. I put the question to Los Angeles computer software wizard Jeff Davidson of PC Consultants and he graciously explained as follows:

The Basic Idea

It’s quite easy to create a Table of Contents. The three basic steps are:

  1. Identify the headings and subheadings you want included.
  2. Indicate where the Table of Contents should be inserted.
  3. Tell Word to create it.

Step 1: Identify the Headings and Subheadings

You certainly want the chapter titles to be in the Table of Contents, and you may also want section or even subsection headings included, each followed by a page number indicating where it begins.

The simplest way to do this is to go through your completed manuscript page by page looking for the items you want included in the Table. For example, let’s say you want your Table of Contents to include the chapter titles, main section headings, and subsection headings from each chapter. When you come to the first chapter title in your manuscript, use your mouse to highlight it. Then click on the “References” tab at the top of your document. When the “References” tab pops into place, look to the far left in the “Table of Contents” area for the “Add Text” command. When you click on “Add Text,” a drop-down window with four choices will appear. The choices are, in order:

  • Do Not Show in Table of Contents
  • Level 1
  • Level 2
  • Level 3

Level 1 is for the most important items in the Table of Contents, such as chapter titles. Level 2 is for subordinate entries, such as section headings, and Level 3 is for the least important items, such as section subheadings.

In our example, you’ve highlighted the first chapter title in your manuscript, so you should click on “Level 1.” You’ll see that the chapter title is now highlighted in blue and takes on a new style in the manuscript.

Continue working through your manuscript, highlighting chapter titles, section headings and section subheadings, indicating whether they are “Level 1,” “Level 2,” or “Level 3” entries.

Step 2: Indicate Where the Table of Contents Should Be Inserted

The Table of Contents usually appears at the beginning of the manuscript. You may wish to insert a blank page after the title or other opening pages  and put the Table of Contents on this blank page.

Place your cursor where you want the Table of Contents to begin, and click once.

Step 3: Tell Word to Create It

Now that you’ve indicated where the Table of Contents should begin, go back to the “References” tab, and in the “Table of Contents” area on the far left, click on the “Table of Contents” command. A drop-down window featuring some Table styles will appear. Click on the style you like, and Word will create the Table automatically. The Level 1 entries will be flush left, the Level 2 entries will be indented a bit, and the Level 3 entries will be indented a bit more. Each entry will be followed by the appropriate page number.

That’s it; you’ve created a basic table of contents!

Advanced Techniques

There are other features you can use to create a Table of Contents and other ways to prepare it. To learn advanced techniques for creating or modifying a Table of Contents, or if you need assistance with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint or other popular computer programs, contact Jeff Davidson of PC Consultants.