Modify The Style Of Your Table Of Contents

Creating a nice looking table of contents
Sure we have read numerous documents which contained TOC’s. Most of them are pre-generated by Word. A great feature and very easy to use. You create your document, apply heading styles to certain headers and choose “insert table of contents” from the ribbon. But what if that table of contents just doesn’t do it for me? How can i adjust the various options in a table of contents. In this post i will show you a way to modify the auto generated Table Of Contents.

A reference
A table of contents is nothing more than a reference. You can actually see this after you have created a table of contents. For this post i’ve created some dummy text and created a table of contents.

Now take a look at this table of contents after we have pressed ALT-F9.

Now you can see what the Table Of Contents actually is. The field setting is set to {TOC “1-3”} with a couple of additional switches. The first part tells Word it needs to create a TOC based on Headings 1 to 3. This means that if you have applied a heading 4 in your document it will not show up in your Table Of Contents. If you want it to show up in your TOC just change the 3 into a 4 and update your TOC.

You will see various switches in word fields. Not every switch will be self explanatory but for the table of contents the first one is good to know. the \h stands for use hyperlinks. This makes it easy to ctrl-click on the table of contents and jump to the section you want to go to. If you don’t want to use hyperlinks remove the switch.

Anyway let’s get back to modifying the Table Of Contents. I want to format every heading in a different style in my TOC. So i’m not going to do that in my Table Of Contents but i’m actually going to change the style used in the document. If you change the lines in your TOC by setting them Bold for instance you will see that when the TOC is updated the Bold formatting is removed. Ok so first things first we are going to use the styles taskpane. In Word 2010 you can find the taskpane by clicking on the dialog lancher on the “Home Tab” – Styles Group – little arrow on the rightcorner (see picture)

The styles taskpane is very important because it will show you exactly what styles is being used at the position your cursor is at the moment. So if place your cursor in the TOC the “Hyperlink” style will be ‘bordered’ telling you that the hyperlink style is active. But wait that is not the style you have to modify. The clue is that you actually have to change the various TOC styles to modify the final format of your Table Of Contents.

I click the TOC 1 style wich you can see just above the hyperlink style and choose “Modify“.

In the next dialog make all the changes you would like to apply to your heading one in your TOC. There is an important radio button on this dialog and fortunately it defaults to “only in this document” which it should because otherwise all your futur TOC’s would look like this and for now i just want to modify this one only.

As you can see i have modified the TOC 1 style to format a orange color and a different font. Now you know you can adjust every TOC style in the styles taskpane to your own settings. So in the end it might look something like this:

The Table of Contents text was blue. This is the only text i modified directly in the table of contents. If you apply TOC styles this way, you will see that after you have added several more paragraphs to your document and update your table of contents regularly it will format just the way you set it to be. No hassle, no mocking afterwards.

So let show your creativity and instead of the auto generated TOC show your skills and modify it to something neat and shiny next time.

Happy TOCcing 😉

One thought on “Modify The Style Of Your Table Of Contents

  1. Rodolfo

    Hi there! I just want to offer you a huge thumbs up for the great information you have got right
    here on this post. I am returning to your website for more soon.


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