This is a walkthrough guide for something that I wish I had learnt before I finished university! The amount of time I spent slowly going through a document or my dissertation to enter a contents page by hand, does not bear thinking about. I should have realised that the wonderful people at Microsoft have created a quick and easy way to add a contents page to your documents. The below walkthrough will explain how.

  1. Open up the document that you want to add your table of contents.
  2. Go to the area of your document that you would like to add the table of contents

  3. From the main menu select the References tab
  4. Then click Table of Contents, and scroll down to Insert Table of Contents4
  5. On the box that pops up, remove the tick from the box ‘Use hyperlinks instead of page numbers’.
    At this stage you can also edit other settings, such as how many levels of chapters/sub chapters you’d like to show on your contents page or what style of tab leader (the dotted line between heading and page number!) to use.
  6. If you want to get even more advanced, you can click ‘modify’ to select specific styling, fonts and colours for your contents page
  7. On the box that pops up select the OK button.
  8. Now you are ready to select the text for your table of contents. Scroll down to the first heading that you want on the page and highlight the words.7
  9. Once these are highlighted, click ReferencesAdd Text in the top left hand corner. You will have three options to set it as Level 1, 2 or 3. This is in case you want this as a main heading, or a subheading on your Table of Contents.
  10. Once you have selected your headings and set each one to the correct heading level you would like click References > Update Table.9
  11. Once you have selected a number of headings and added them, your contents page will look like this.10

This really is one of the most useful shortcuts for formatting large documents, papers and reports. Not only will it save you a lot of time but it also makes the work look a lot more professional than any hand created contents page!