Word: Modify TOC styles

September 26, 2008

Do you create long Word documents with auto-generated Tables of Contents (TOCs)? Do you like the default styles Word uses to display the TOC? Probably not!

Here’s how to modify the TOC styles:

  1. Open a document based on your Word template.
  2. Click in the Table of Contents.
  3. Open the Table of Contents window or tab:
    * Word 2003: Go to Insert > Reference > Index and Tables. Go to the Table of Contents tab.
    * Word 2007: Go to the Reference tab, click the Table of Contents icon, select Insert Table of Contents near the bottom of the list of Built-In tables.
  4. Check these settings:
    * Choose a Tab Leader (typically dots).
    * Set Show Levels to 3 (or however many heading levels you want to show).
    * Turn off the Use Hyperlinks check box. Be careful! If you’re using Word 2007 and Acrobat 9, leave this setting turned on to create a clickable TOC in the PDF file.
    * Make sure the Show Page Numbers and Right Align… check boxes are both selected.
  5. Click Modify.
  6. Select TOC 1, then click Modify again.
  7. Click Format, then select Tabs.
  8. Set a right tab stop position the same width as the body text of your document.
  9. For example, type 16 cm in the text box at the top, select the Right option, select the 2 leader, click Set, then click OK.
  10. Make any other changes you want to the style (e.g. font, indent etc.), then click OK.
  11. Repeat steps 7 to 10 for the other styles (TOC 2, TOC 3) you want to modify.
  12. When you’re finished, click OK to close the window.
  13. Click OK to replace the Table of Contents.
  14. Check everything’s as you want it; make further modifications as necessary.
  15. You can save the document (or not), but make sure you say Yes to save the changes to the Word template when asked—if you’re happy with the way the TOC looks now.

See also:

[This article was first published in the December 2007 CyberText Newsletter; Word 2007 details added 31 August 2008; links last checked December 2011 ]


  1. […] If you don’t like the fonts used, or how the heading levels are indented, or want to exclude a heading style from being reported in the TOC, you’ll need to modify the styles: […]

  2. You are awesome – thank you!

  3. I have a multiple word doc TOC that I have made “clickable” in Word but I can’t get it to convert over when converting to a PDF. Is that b/c the TOC if from multiple word docs?

  4. The reason is most likely the PDF converter you’re using — if you’re using a cheap/free PDF converter and not Adobe Acrobat, you have no or limited options when it comes to making links clickable.

    Because I have Acrobat installed, I’m not sure what the PDF converter within Word does — when I create a PDF from the options within Word, Adobe PDF Maker runs and I get links. What I don’t know is whether that Adobe PDF Maker on my computer is the one installed by Acrobat or by Word.

  5. Yes I have Adobe Acrobat Pro. I think the issue may be with the multiple word doc TOC, but not sure.

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