Word: Pictures in a table of contents

September 30, 2008

Recently a few people have asked me to fix their auto-generated table of contents (TOC) in Word. Somehow they’ve ended up with a picture in there and they don’t know how or why, and it keeps coming back when they regenerate the TOC.

This one’s easy to fix—once you know why it occurs.

The default behavior of Word is to use Heading styles to create the TOC and the Caption style to create lists of figures and tables. The paragraph the picture is in has a Heading or Caption style applied to it.

  1. Find the picture in the body of the document.
  2. Replace the Heading or Caption style with a standard paragraph style (alternatively, select Clear Formatting from the styles list).
  3. Regenerate the TOC/list of figures/list of tables and the picture should be gone forever!

[This article was first published in the March 2005 CyberText Newsletter]


  1. Thank you and this helped me a lot


  2. Thank you very much. This was driving me crazy. It’s all fixed now.

  3. […] Pictures (or unwanted normal text) in a TOC: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/pictures-in-a-word-table-of-contents/ […]

  4. Thank you so much for putting this out there. What a simple fix for a maddening problem!

  5. THANK YOU! This was making me CRAZY and microsoft was no help!

  6. Awesome – and thank you! This was driving me nuts!

  7. Thank you this was much of a help!

  8. Thank you it helped me a lot

  9. Good tip.
    Here are some more details, incase you did not find what the author was talking about right away:

    Outline level should go to ‘body text’, and you can keep the headline in the TOC by highlighting only the picture & other text within that paragraph, (and not not highlighting the header you want to keep) then rightmouse and click paragraph. Then modify outline level to be body text (instead of level 2 or whatever it was at before).

  10. […] seen normal text and images in an automated Table of Contents (TOC) and they’ve been easy to find and fix. Typically, a heading style has been applied to the paragraph containing the text or image, and […]

  11. Oh man, thanks so much! I was pulling my hair out. Wherever you are, enjoy your weekend!

  12. This was a big help to me. Thanks!

  13. Thanks buddy

  14. Thank you SOOOOOOOO much !!!!

  15. Great, Greater and Greatest!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks a trillion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Thanks a lot. This is one of the 8532 annoying features of Microsoft Products :)

  17. why won’t word let me change some images and paragraphs from “level 2” to “body text”?

  18. I had the picture itself formated as “Heading 2”. Didn’t know this was possible…

  19. Thanks a lot ….. i was not aware of the cause.
    It helped greatly.

  20. thanks a lot – i struggled a lot with this issue. Many thanks once again.

  21. If you were here I would hug you! Thank you!

  22. I have the opposite problem, I want my graphics to show up as icons in the table of contents. I have them selected as Heading 3 in each section, then hyperlinked them to the top of the document. Then they show up as little icons next to my header text in the TOC. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Any answer re: why? Thanks.

  23. Thank you so much:) Its working

  24. Thank you so much!!

  25. Many many many thanks!!!!! This was really driving me crazy! Lesson learned!

  26. Perfect! Thanks!

  27. does not help

  28. THANKS! Even after a decade your help still prevents mental breakdowns.

  29. Thank you so much! it helped me alot

  30. thank you so much. it does help me!!!

  31. Thank you.

    Happy hollidays.

  32. Brilliant solution! Ta~

  33. Bloody hell, life saver. Cheers.

  34. Welp 12 years later, still THANK YOU! Some of my pictures were selected as Heading 2. I put them back to regular text and it fixed it. Thanks a million.

  35. 12 years later indeed.
    I had to make sure I had not selected the picture itself but in fact simply had a blinking cursor on the same line just prior to the pic itself. Then right click and select styles then clear formatting.

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