How to Make a Table of Contents in MS Word Manually & Automatically

The general definition of ​table of contentsis “page sheet which is the main guide for the contents of the book along with the page number” (KBBI V). The table of contents is usually placed in the preliminary section of the book or manuscript, and right before the contents page starts. What is meant by the preliminary part itself is the introductory part of the contents of a book, which is usually marked by special page numbering — usually small roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc.).

Table of Contents

Basically, the table of contents serves as a guide for finding pages from a chapter title or section of a paper. This guide is very useful if the manuscript is very long in size and is divided into several parts (chapters or sections) that are integral.

When composing papers, both scientific and fictional, not a few people who feel troublesome and some what chaotic. Some constraints include changes in the structure or framework of the manuscript – including chapters and sections that must be included in the table of contents. In addition to changing the framework, often the text is also added to and reduced in certain sections.

Both of these impacts on the frequently changing contents of the entry as well as the page list. Not infrequently, when a writer — a student who writes a thesis, for example — forgets to enter a new entry or removes a particular entry from its contents list.

Therefore, tips that I often give to students who are undergraduate thesis are, “make a list of your most recent contents, when the thesis script, thesis, or dissertation is truly patent and not changed anymore!”

Example of Table of Contents Formats

Talking about the format of writing the correct table of contents actually cannot be determined by its standard or uniform form. This is because the formatting of the table of contents in a paper usually has to follow certain technical guidelines for writing.

As the most concrete example, in an academic environment, usually writing a bibliography as part of a thesis, thesis, or dissertation must follow the technical writing guidelines of the campus concerned.

These technical guidelines usually include the type and size of letters, ​margins( text), numbering, numbering new paragraphs, tabulation, spaces between lines and between paragraphs, and many other details.

Therefore, do not be surprised if often the formatting of the thesis written by students from one campus is different from that written by students from other campuses.

However, there are some general rules that are followed by each technical guide. In general, the table of contents is usually arranged in the following form.

Another example of the table of contents format can be seen in the following example.

As can be seen in the figure, the main difference between the two formats is the presence or absence of inward texting from the left margin of the page for subtitle and subtitle entry. Formatting variations that are usually done are typeface, spaces between lines, and thickening of titles or subtitles.

Making a table of contents with both forms is actually not difficult. What is important, we must first understand that Microsoft Word, the tool we use to “fight” in writing or compiling scientific papers, is not just a digital typewriter. Many features can be used to compile a table of contents neatly, systematically, even automatically.

In this tutorial, I will explain how to create a table of contents manually and automatically. Both of these methods can be applied to certain conditions because both have advantages and disadvantages. All you have to do is adjust the method to make it in the current written manuscript condition.

Bring up the Ruler Bar and Make a Tab Stop

Two important features that we will use in this tutorial to create a table of contents are the Ruler Bar and Tab stop . Both of these features are needed for the layout and alignment of ​thetable of contents ​margins.

Therefore, make sure first the ​ruler barappears in your Microsoft Word application window. If not, you can bring up the Ruler bar through the following settings.

How to bring up the Ruler Bar

  1. Click the View tab , then click the Ruler selection box in the Show column.
  1. After the Ruler Bar appears, notice the small box in the right corner of the meeting between ​thehorizontal and vertical ​ruler bars. Inside the box there are icons such as the letter L or right angle. The icon is a tabulation indicator .
  1. The tabulation indicator icon shows the type of active Tab stop if we make a tab ​stopon the Ruler bar. Tab ​stopsare markers of the “jump” position when you press the cursor on the Tab key on the keyboard. If we install the Tab ​stopmarker at a certain position, for example in the 6 cm position on the ruler bar, then we press the Tab key on the keyboard, Microsoft Word will move the typed cursor directly to the position of the 6 cm tab stop and leave empty typing spaces in one line.
  1. If the tabulation icon itself is clicked, the icon will change shape. This shape change indicates a change in tab ​stop type.
  1. Now, we know the types of tabulations. The tabulation types are ​left, center, right, decimal, and ​ From this tabular icon box we can also adjust the position of the ​first line indentand the ​hanging indentof a paragraph.

How to Make a Tab Stop

For the purposes of making a table of contents, actually we don’t need to change the tab stop type. We just need to make a Tab stop that matches the position of the page number column from the list of headings and subtitles. To make a Tab stop, complete the following steps:

  1. First, measure and determine the position The tab stop will be placed. Let’s say we will put the page number column 13 inches from the left margin. Thus, click the 13 cm number on the ​ruler bar.
  1. A tabulation icon will appear that is the same as the icon currently shown in the tabulation indicator box. This icon is called a tab stop , which is the tabulation jump position when the Tab key on the keyboard is pressed.

In making the table of contents later, we will use more than one Tab stop. Each tab stop jump is counted from the closest to ​theleft ​margin. This means that if we are going to jump to the third Tab stop, it means the third Tab stop sign from the left margin.

The number of presses the Tab stop itself depends on where the cursor is on. If our writing has passed the limit of the second Tab stop, for example, simply pressing the Tab key once we will jump to the third Tab stop from the left margin.

Make a Table of Contents Manually

Manually creating a table of contents is perhaps the most frequently done by authors of writing. Table of contents manually created by typing one by one the chapter titles and subheadings on one page then provide a list of pages in the right column.

Although the word “manual” and typing procedures one by one the contents entries are memorable troublesome, in my opinion this manual method is actually the most practical to use. Moreover, if by chance you are not a person accustomed to utilizing the features of structuring the script to its full potential. If you don’t know what script structuring is, the ​Stylesfeature , or the terms ​Headingand ​Body Text, the method of writing a table of contents manually is the most suitable.

Formatting the table of contents manually is actually easy. Simply by setting tab tab alias as described in the previous section, you can already compile a neat table of contents.

Previously, let’s recall the two forms of table of contents explained at the beginning of this tutorial. There is a table of contents which is flat on the left edge, and some protrudes into the sub-section. This tutorial will discuss making these two forms of table of contents. Here are the steps:

  1. First, write the table of contents title at the top of the page. Then, press the ​Enterkey to move to the line below it.
  1. At the beginning of this row, measure at which position the page number column will be created. Say, we will make the page column in position 13 cm.
  1. Create a Tab stop at a position of 13 cm in the manner described in the Tab stop manufacture section.
  1. Next, double-click on the tab stop icon that was created in the 13 cm position. A Tabs settings dialog box will appear .
  1. In the Tabs settings window , click the Tab stop position which is 13 cm, then in the Leader option , change to option (2) . Next, click the Set button and OK.

In writing the table of contents, usually a list of headings and sub-chapters is followed by a dotted line leading to the appropriate page number column. The habit of many Microsoft Word users is to make the dotted lines manually, by pressing and holding the dot [.] On the keyboard down to the page number column. This is the wrong and inefficient way.

Now, with the tab stop settings as before, we do not need to press and hold the dot button on the keyboard to make a dotted line between the title list and the page number column. After writing the title or subtitle, we just press the Tab key on the keyboard. The cursor will move to the stop tab position 13 cm while bringing up a dotted line along the line.

  1. Then, for making a table of contents whose left ​marginsprotrude into each section, we need more than one Tab stop. Each tab stop will be positioned at:
  • chapter title
  • section number
  • subchapter title
  • subchapter number
  • sub-chapter headings (if necessary)

How to Adjust Number Position for Table of Contents

As a practical example, in the following Chapter II bibliography entry, I have several sub-chapters that have sub-chapters. Section 2.3 will have sub-chapters 2.3.1 to 2.3.9. Numbering position 2.3.1 will be jointed so that it is straight with the heading section 2.3. The steps taken are as follows.

  1. Selection of sub-chapters 2.1 to 2.4, make tab stops in the position of 0.75 cm and 13 cm. Open the Tabs dialog box, then adjust the position of the Tab 13 cm with the Leader selected (2).
  1. Next, push all sections 2.3.1 to 2.3.9 and subheadings to the tab stop position 0.75 cm.
  1. Now, selection again in the sub-chapters 2.3.1 to 2.3.9. Then, make a tab stop in the 1.75 cm position.
  1. Release the selection, then push all the headings of sub-chapters 2.3.1 to 2.3.9, but don’t change the subtitle numbering position.
  1. Now, in subtitle to numbering, do the same thing as in subtitles 2.3.1 to 2.3.9 in the second step, push the subtitle number to the tab stop position 2 cm.
  2. Now, you will get an arrangement of indented contents in each subtitle and sub-subtitle.

If you need an overlay in another section, you can do the same procedure as mentioned above, which is to make a tab stop, then push the part that you want to jutt with the Tab.

Creating an Automatic Table of Contents

In addition to creating it manually, we can actually create a table of contents automatically through the ​Table of Contentscreation feature in Microsoft Word, be it in Word 2007, Word 2010, Word 2013, or Word 2016. However, there are some important things to consider previous.

First, we must ensure that the manuscripts of scientific papers to be made in the contents list have complete parts in one document, not from separate documents.

Second, the preliminary section and the content section must be separated by the ​Section. Third, page numbering is complete and correct — for the technique of making page numbers in scientific work.

Fourth, we must also ensure that the structure of the ​heading of themanuscript is complete and correct. So from the beginning I mentioned that this method of creating an automatic table of contents is more suitable for people who know and are accustomed to writing structured documents and their well-defined ​Headingstructure .

This setting is needed so that Microsoft Word can recognize the title and subtitles, and the position of the page number. This setting makes use of the Styles features and document Heading structure . Heading is a part of a text that is marked as the title or subtitle of a manuscript. The Heading settings can be found in the Styles settings on the Home tab . The steps are as follows.

  1. First, open the document section that contains the chapter title. Here I use the example of Chapter I entitled “Introduction”.
  1. Selection of the title “Chapter I Introduction”. Then, on the Home tab and the Styles column , right-click on the Heading 1 option.
  1. From the menu that appears, select Update Heading 1 to match selection. Note that the form and format of the Heading 1 text in the Styles box now change to the “Chapter”.

Introduction” text format. Then, in the left hand pane of Microsoft Word, a ​Navigation panel appears that lists the Heading. Chapter I Introduction which was marked as Heading 1 now appears on the list.

  1. Now, do the same procedure with subtitle 1.1 Background. However, this time choose Subtitle 1.1. as Heading 2. Selection of text “1.1. Background”. Then, in the Home Tab and the Styles column, right-click the Heading 2 option. From the menu that appears choose Update Heading 2 to match selection.
  1. Look again at the Navigation panel . Now we get a heading structure that shows “Chapter I Introduction” as Heading 1 and “1.1 Background” as Heading 2. Same as the previous procedure.

In addition, note also that position 1.1. The background is under Chapter I Introduction because 1.1 is set as Heading 2, which is one level of Heading under Heading 1.

  1. Now, do the same for all the chapter titles and subtitles that you want to be included in the heading structure and auto-fill list.

Some things to keep in mind are the Heading numbering in accordance with the structure and level of the Heading numbering in the manuscript. For example the subtitle “2.1 Fairy Tales as Children’s Literature”, because it has 2 numbering numbers, is set as Heading 2. For clarity, consider the following illustration.

  1. After all the heading settings are complete, we will more or less find the structure of the heading in the Navigation panel as follows.
  1. Next, make one blank page after the “Preface” and before “Chapter I Introduction”. On this page we will create a table of contents.
  1. Click the References tab , then click Table of Contents . From the menu that appears choose Automatic Table 1 .
  1. Microsoft Word will automatically create a table of contents. The table of contents is complete with page numbers, and complete with sub-chapters that were marked earlier.
  2. The next step is to uniform the writing format on the table of contents so that it is the same as the standard text on the paper. Select all text in the table of contents. Then, on the Home tab , set the font type and size in the Font panel .
  1. Next, change the title of the table of contents from “Contents” to “TABLE OF CONTENTS”. Then, position the title “TABLE OF CONTENTS” in the center position of the page.

Other Tips and Tricks

After following the tutorial on how to create a table of contents above, you should now be able to make a table of contents that is good and right. Now I will add some tips and tricks so you can make it even more perfect.

  • Update Table of Contents

The table of contents will not automatically update when you add a new title or subtitle. Therefore you must update it manually by placing the cursor in the table of contents then press F9. You can also update the table of contents by going to References> Update Table. Make sure to always choose the “Update entire table” option.

  • Watch a training video from Microsoft

If you are still using Word 2003, Microsoft provides a video tutorial for automatically creating contents. Quoted from , this video consists of two parts and is very easy to follow. Please watch the first part video​ here​ and the second part​ here​.

  • Differentiate with other text

The table of contents that we have created will be considered as a field and not as plain text. Now to distinguish them you can make these fields gray. The gray color will not print if you print the document through the printer. Here’s how:

  1. Word 2003 and earlier: open Tools> Options> View, then change the Field Shading option to “Always”.
  1. Word 2007: open the Office logo, select Word Options> Advanced, then in the ‘Show document content’ section change the Field Shading to “Always”.
  1. Word 2010 and above: go to File> Options> Advanced, then in the ‘Show document content’ section change the Field Shading to “Always”.

Thus the tutorial on how to create a table of contents in Microsoft Word. As I said before, you can choose to make it manual or automatic depending on the right conditions.

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If you have already written scientific papers without structuring the document’s Heading, the manual method is the most appropriate. However, if you can create a scientific paper with a correct and complete structure, such as ​Heading, Section,and page numbering, then creating a table of contents automatically can be a solution.

That was the tips and tricks on how to create a table of contents for papers, theses, and others. If you want to share tips or want to ask questions, you can write in the comments column. Good luck!

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