The top features of Microsoft Word include its spell checker, which underlines typographical and some grammatical errors, WordArt for special effects on words, and Macros for scripting rules and tasks which can be executed automatically and creating automatic tables of content.
With this feature, you don’t have to collate the headings manually and type or paste them on the content page. Once the document is formatted in a certain way, Microsoft Word will recognize the headings and group them into a table of contents for you.
How to Automatically Include a Table of Contents
It is important to note that before you can automatically create a table of contents in Microsoft Word, you must have used any of the defined Heading Styles for your content headings. Otherwise, Microsoft Word will not recognize them as headings for the table.
To apply the Microsoft Word predefined headings to your Microsoft Word document headings, highlight the heading and click on the Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. as the case may be, under Home and then Headings. Use Heading 1 for your main headings, Heading 2 for subheadings, and Heading 3 for lower-level headings, and so on.
After your document is formatted using the Heading Styles for your headings, go to the page at which you want to insert the table of contents. Tables of contents are mostly inserted on blank pages, so insert a blank page close to the beginning of your document and put the cursor at the top of the page. The location of the cursor is the location where Word will insert the table of contents.
Click on References on the MS Word Ribbon. The References tab will open to display a lot of icons. Click again on Table of Contents on the far right of the References tab.
The Table of Contents tab will open to display a list of styles for Tables of Contents. Choose one of your choices. Click on it. The third option, which is the Manual Table, will only provide the formatting for the table of contents, but you will have to manually type in the headings.
Title and Format Adjustments
You have added the table of contents to your document, which was automatically generated by MS Word. You can add a title for your table of contents at the top of the page, something like “Table of Contents.”
Note that if you make it any of the Headings Styles, it will also be included in the table of contents. Also, among the heading styles, there is a title style that you can use for the titles of your Microsoft Word documents. It is the fourth in line after Heading 2. It uses a font size of 28, which makes it bold.
All the predefined styles are to help minimize the time that a writer should spend on designing or arranging the document and rather focus on the content of the document.
Updating Your Table
The table of contents is static, so any changes in the document will not be automatically updated in the table of contents. To update the table of contents, right-click on the table of contents and click on Update Field. A new pop up will display.
Select the second one Update Entire Table and click Ok. The entire table of contents will be updated, both the headings and the page numbers. The first option will only update the page numbers attached to the table of contents. This is useful when there is an increase or decrease in the page numbers after the insertion or removal of an image or other media from the document.
Now, your document should have a clean and organized table of contents that you can automatically update as you work and write.