Create a Table of Contents in Word Automatically

Word will automatically populate a table of contents for any file. Here’s the easiest method:

  1. Make sure each heading is assigned a Heading Style from the Styles gallery (easiest found on the Home ribbon).
  2. Place the cursor where you’d like the table of contents to appear.
  3. From the References ribbon, click the Table of Contents button at the far left. Select the preferred look (see next figure).
On the References ribbon, the TOC button is far left and opens this menu.


Changes made to the headings within the document will not be reflected in the table of contents until it is updated. Same goes for pagination; if revising content changes pagination, update the table of contents to update the page numbers in the ToC. Right-click anywhere in the table of contents (or the down arrow at the right of the blue field header) and select Update Table… from the context menu that opens.

Use arrow keys to navigate through the table of contents in order to manually make changes to it, since clicking on the table will navigate to the related page. (Not the best method but sometimes required.)

If using custom heading styles, be sure to set their hierarchy so they will appear in the automated table of contents.

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