Create table of contents in Microsoft Word

You would like to create a clickable table of contents in Microsoft Word to get an excellent structure for your document. Every document you write in Word needs to be clear and visible for the reader to be understandable. In today’s article, you will learn how to automatically create and update a table of contents in Microsoft Word.

Create a table of contents in Word automatically

It would be best if you created a table of contents at the beginning of your document. For example, when you write in a Word document and start with a new chapter, you should make the title a heading. If you need to learn how to create a heading, please read our article on how to create headings in Microsoft Word first.

Having some headings in your documents is necessary before you can create a table of contents. Otherwise, you will get a table of contents with no entries, as shown in the picture below. It could be why a table of contents does not work sometimes.

Create table of contents in microsoft word
  • First, go to the page where you want a table of contents to appear. When creating a table of contents in Word, you have to click on References.
  • On the left, you can click on Table of Contents and can choose any version you would like to use.

We would recommend choosing: Automatic Table 1 or Automatic Table 2

Remember that you can always click on the Custom Table of Contents highlighted in the picture below. A box called Table of Contents will appear if you click on it.

create table of contents

In the Table of Contents dialog box, you can change Formats and choose a different style, e.g., Formal.

formats of table of contents

Update table of contents

Creating a table of contents allows you to easily update it every time you write new headings in your document. In addition, you can click on Update Table in two different ways.

A: One way is by going under References > Table of Contents and clicking on Update Table.

B: The other way is simply by going to the Table of Contents you created yourself and clicking on it once. There appears a bar where you can also Update Table.

update table of contents

Did this help you to create a clickable table of contents in Microsoft Word? Let us know in the comments section below!

Read more: Create bibliography in Microsoft Word »


You learned how to create a table of contents in Microsoft Word. It will provide an overview of your future documents. It is easy to update a table of contents automatically and learn how to make custom adjustments.

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