How to Update Your Table of Contents in Word

How to Update Table of Contents in Word
Make it easy for people to find things in your documents.

If you've ever tried to create or update a Table of Contents (TOC) in Microsoft Word, you'll know that they can be a little difficult to get just right.

That's why we have them already set up in all our Course Books and Workbooks. It's just a matter of making sure that anything you want in the TOC has a Heading1 or Heading2 style on it. Then, when you create a Table of Contents, that text and the page numbers where it appears shows up.

However, TOCs have to be updated any time you make a change in your document. If you add something, change titles, or delete pages, it affects the whole Table. Then you'll need to ‘update' it.

Here's a video demo of what you need to do whenever you change something that affects page numbering, or if you want to update the whole TOC. I used the Course Book from our ‘Blaze' course, Shoestring Budget Startup, in the video:

Here's an overview of all the steps from the video:

Step 1. Click on the Table of Contents to highlight the whole area

You'll see that the whole area becomes grayed-out.

Step 2. Right-click to bring up the Table of Contents menu

You'll see a box pop-up with a few options. We're just focusing on one here.

Step 3. Click on ‘Update Field'

If you've made change to titles, or added or deleted sections, you'll see a couple options.

Step 4. Click on ‘Update page numbers only' OR ‘Update entire table'

Use ‘update page numbers only' if you want to keep the table exactly as-is and just update the numbering. (Eg, if you've edited and added or deleted something that affects the numbering only.)

Use ‘update entire table' if you want Word to regenerate the Table. You'll need to do this if you've changed wording in Heading 1 or 2 titles in particular.

Step 5. Make any manual edits you need

When you ‘update entire table', everything that has the style Heading 1 or 2 on it will show up in the table. However, this may include the title page and the Table of Contents itself.

You don't need those in your TOC, so you can go into it manually and delete those lines.

You can also edit the font and manually change anything else after you've updated the table. Just put your mouse where you want to make edits and go ahead and edit as if you were in any other part of the document.

We usually manually delete the title page reference and the Table of Contents listing (since they're already on that page anyway) when we create the TOC for you.

Now you know how to do the updates to the Table of Contents yourself!

Please let me know if that wasn't clear and I'll explain further 🙂


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