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Word: Getting rid of odd styles in an auto TOC

February 16, 2010

Scenario

You go to insert an automatic Table of Contents (TOC) into your Word document. The default setting is that your TOC is based on 3 heading levels, but you see some errant styles in the Web Preview pane — in the screen shot below, the Subtitle and Style1 styles I’ve highlighted in yellow shouldn’t be included.

Unwanted styles listed in the TOC preview

Temporary solution

You can get rid of these styles temporarily, but if you have to re-insert the TOC, they’ll come back. If you just need to get the document out and won’t touch it again, then this temporary solution may be all you need. However, if you’re likely to do many more updates to the document, skip down to the permanent solution in the next section.

[Note: In this section, I’ve shown how to fix the problem in Word 2003; the steps for Word 2007 are very similar.]

To get rid of these styles temporarily:

  1. On the Table of Contents tab (see the screen shot above), click Options.
  2. Scroll down the list of styles until you see the styles you don’t want. They will have numbers in the TOC level column.
    Unwanted styles are listed with levels
  3. Put your cursor into the TOC level field for one of the styles and delete the number. Repeat for any other unwanted styles. (Note: Don’t delete the Heading 1, 2, and 3 styles — you still want them!)
  4. Click OK twice to save your settings and exit all dialog box windows.
  5. If asked if you want to replace the selected table of contents, click Yes.

Remember, this is only a temporary solution — these styles may come back the next time you work on the document and need to re-insert the TOC.

Permanent solution

To get rid of these styles permanently (Word 2003):

  1. Open the template if they are in the template (or open the document if they’re just in one document).
  2. Open the Styles and Formatting task pane.
  3. Find the first errant style, hover over it until you see the arrow, click the arrow, then click Modify. (If the style is not listed, go to the bottom of the task pane, select Custom from the Show drop-down list, then make sure the unwanted styles have check marks next to them.)
  4. Click the Format button, then select Paragraph.
  5. The Outline Level setting is set to a level — change it to Body Text.
    The unwanted style has an outline level assigned to it
  6. Click OK twice to exit the dialog boxes.
  7. Repeat steps 3 to 6 for any other unwanted styles.

To get rid of these styles permanently (Word 2007):

  1. Open the template if they are in the template (or open the document if they’re just in one document).
  2. Open the Styles pane.
  3. Click the Manage Styles button (bottom right icon).
  4. On the Edit tab of the Manage Styles window, find the first errant style, select it, then click Modify.
  5. Click Format, then select Paragraph.
  6. The Outline Level setting is set to a level — change it to Body Text.
  7. Click OK twice to exit the dialog boxes and get back to the Manage Styles dialog.
  8. Repeat steps 4 to 7 for any other unwanted styles.

Try inserting a new TOC and they are no longer shown in the Web Preview pane. Simple — when you know how.

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