Formatting and Updating MS Word TOC

Now that you have the basics of Word’s TOC (Table of Contents), you’re probably wondering about appearance, updating and other uses.

Well, it’s good if you’re wondering, because that’s what we’re going to cover today.

Let’s begin with the appearance.

You may not be thrilled with the font style or size in the TOC. Fortunately, this is absolutely no problem.

You can highlight all or part of the TOC and change the font type and size just like any other text in the document, including things like bolding, italics, underlines, all caps, etc.

Basically, if you can think of a text formatting option that you want set, it can pretty much be done to the highlighted TOC.

You can also set paragraph characteristics like indenting, bulleting, line spacing, etc.

Okay, enough with the appearance stuff.

I bet by now, you’re also considering editing issues.

I mean, if you make changes to the document that should be reflected in the TOC, do you have to make the changes to the TOC by hand or do you delete it and start all over again?

Happily, I can report that you don’t need to do either.

With just a few clicks, you can get Word to do all the updating for you.

To start your update, simply right click over the TOC.

From the popup menu, you’re looking for the Update Field choice.

A small Update Table of Contents window will open where you need to make a choice before proceeding.

The first choice is to have Word update the page numbers only. This will keep all title entries in the TOC the same, even if you’ve made changes to titles in the document.

If you select the second option, Update entire table, Word will update title names and page numbers.

When you’ve made your choice, click OK.

I must add here that when I made font changes and then did a complete table update, the TOC would often revert back to the default font formatting with which it was created. So, I recommend that you make those changes last.

Finally, in the opening paragraph I mentioned “other uses” for the TOC, so let’s touch on a little perk I ran into in Word 2000. (I couldn’t get this one to work in Word 97, sorry folks).

My accidental discovery was a simple one. I clicked on a TOC entry to highlight it (I was trying to change the font) and imagine my surprise when the document jumped right to the location I had clicked on. (A quick side note: if clicking on the entry moves you into the document, I’m sure a few of you are asking how you’re supposed to make font changes if you can’t highlight. Never fear, you can still highlight. Try clicking to the left of the line you want to change. The entire line will be selected with just the single click).

I found that in the newer versions of Word, the TOC was linked to each location and could be used for quick navigation.

To do this same thing in newer versions, I found that I had to hold down the Ctrl key while clicking on the TOC entry to navigate using the link.


Who knew there would be so much to Word’s TOC?

Not me! But still, even if you choose to make changes to everything possible, it’s still faster than creating it yourself. (Not to mention the time just one edit and update will save!)

~ April