When writing a book, paper or report, it’s important to format it properly. One example of good formatting is a table of contents. Now, you could create one by hand, but that would be time-consuming and may need constant updates. A better option is an automated table of contents. Most good word processors have a function to automatically create a table of contents from the headings and subheadings throughout the document. That includes Google Docs. If you want to create a table of contents, here’s how you do it.
When in your Google Doc, move your cursor to the place in the document you want the table of contents to start. Traditionally, this will be either the very beginning or end of your document. Once your cursor is in the correct position, click “Insert” in the top bar, just under the document title.
In the insert dropdown menu, the bottom option is “Table of contents”. Move your mouse over this option or click on it. Doing so will show you two options for style of contents table – pick the one you like better.
The two styles of contents tables are: “With page numbers” and “With blue links”. As the names suggest, these styles include page numbers and change the text formatting to look like standard hyperlinks respectively. The former is the ‘traditional’ format that looks great in print. The latter is ideal for online-only formats as it allows users to click on a link rather than having to scroll to find a section.
Tip: Once the table has been created, you can modify the formatting of the text in it however you want, as you would with any other text in the document. So, the main difference between the two templates is including and excluding page numbers. To edit your text, select it like you would normally and apply options like colour or font via the menu at the top.
If you change the formatting of the document after the table of contents has been created, you can update the table in one of two ways. The first way is to right-click on the table of contents and to select “Update table of contents”, the second to last option in the right-click menu. The second way is to click into the table of contents, and then click the refresh icon, just to the left of the top of the table. The icon in question is an arrow bent in the shape of a circle. This will update the table of contents to match the current layout of the document.
Tip: Use this function when you’ve added or removed headlines, or when you’ve changed their wording. It’s not necessary to do this if you’ve only changed styling options like fonts.
Tip: The generated table of contents takes text using all three of the “Heading” styles to fill the contents table. Ensure your headings and subheadings use the correct level of heading styling so that the formatting works correctly.