#289 How to Create a Table of Contents in a SNAP!

At some point most of us have probably worked on a document that could have benefited from a table of contents. Even in relatively short documents a good table of contents can help you audience find the information they need quickly and easily. I know I appreciate not having to scan an entire document when I only need one small part of it. Of course, you can always use the CTRL + F trick that we shared awhile back but that assumes you know the right terms to search for.

I think many people are intimidated by table of contents but I want to show you just how easy it can be. Really it’s just a simple two-stop process that anyone can do.

The first step is to assign a ‘style’ to the heading that you want to include in the table of contents. Word even has predefined styles named ‘Heading 1’, ‘Heading 2’ and ‘Heading 3’.  There are even handy shortcuts for assigning each of these styles:  CTRL + ALT + 1  ,  CTRL + ALT + 2  and  CTRL + ALT + 3   (Go here for more on the basics of using styles in Word.)

Once you’ve assigned your styles all you need to do is place your cursor where you want the table of contents to be and then tell Word to do it’s thing.

Here is what a document with headings applied might look like.

Inserting a Table of Contents

1. With the cursor in the location you want your TOC, click on the References tab.

2. Then click the Table of Contents button.

3.  Choose Built-In Automatic Table 1 or Automatic Table 2. (The only difference is the name for Automatic Table 1 is Contents, and the name for Automatic Table 2 is Table of Contents.)

And that’s all there is to it…easy peezy! You should now have a nice table of contents that looks something like this.

Next week we’ll see how this is like a gift that keeps on giving.  With this trick you can continue editing your document, adding and removing headings and then AUTOMATICALLY update your table of contents to reflect those changes!!! Stay tuned!!!

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