Word: Getting rid of the ‘Jason tab’ in a TOCJuly 12, 2010
Every so often an automatic Table of Contents does something weird. Usually I can fix it by fiddling with styles and/or settings. But occasionally it has me beat, and the only solution is a ‘quick and dirty’ workaround that solves the problem right now, but doesn’t fix it permanently.
An example is something called a ‘Jason tab’ — so named because it keeps on returning even after you think you’ve got rid of it… just like Jason in the ‘Friday the 13th’ movies (or whatever they were — I never watch gory or scary movies).
For example, here’s what the Jason tab looks like in a TOC:
You’ll notice that the page numbering has scooched over to the left for some of the TOC entries (1 in the screen shot above). The only ones affected are those with short heading titles; however, it’s not ALL the headings with short titles at TOC 2 level that exhibited this problem in the TOC — only those with a tab marker at 3.5 cm (2).
Well, I tried every setting I knew of to find that 3.5 cm sucker. I cleared all tab stops, I added tab stops, I set hanging paragraph indents, I combined these in various ways, I howled at the moon (well, perhaps not that one!). You name it, I tried it. The only way I could get the page numbers for these entries to scoot over to the right was to go to each entry and drag that 3.5 cm tab marker off the ruler (or, even easier, to press the Tab key between the end of the word and the page number). Not a satisfactory solution where you have more than a couple of entries that do this. And it’s only a temporary fix anyway, as it comes back next time you update the TOC!
I tried some solutions suggested by members of the Austechwriter email discussion list, but didn’t find one that worked. But at least I knew what it was called, so off to Google “Jason tab” to see what I could find. And hidden among all the results was the solution that worked for me — a TOC switch: \w — documented by the Microsoft Word MVPs.
Here’s how to fix it:
- Position your cursor immediately in front of the first TOC entry (or select the entire TOC).
- Right-click, then select Toggle Field Codes. You’ll get something that looks like this:
- Type \w at the end of the field code, making sure you put a space in front of the \. Your TOC field code should look similar to this:
- Right-click on the field code, then select Toggle Field Codes. You’ll get your TOC back.
- Finally, update your TOC to see the changes.
Voila! The page numbers are back on the right and that Jason tab marker is GONE for good:
This worked beautifully for me!
However, there was one TOC 2 level entry this solution didn’t work for — an entry that was very short and that didn’t use outline heading numbering as it was part of the Executive Summary. If anyone has any suggestions for how to fix this one permanently, I’d be happy to try it out. I’ve tried adding spaces (including non-breaking spaces) and tabs to the heading, but that didn’t work. Again, I’ve fiddled with the tab and paragraph settings, all to no avail. The only thing that worked was adding an ‘s’ to the word in the heading title, but that’s not what the author wants, so, while it forced the page number to the right, it doesn’t fix the problem.
BTW, here were the suggestions members of the Austechwriter email discussion list– I’m listing them all here in case there are any that might work for you:
- Clear the formatting of one or more entries and return to the base style, e.g. TOC 2 (Ctrl+Q to clear manual paragraph formatting; Ctrl+<space> to clear manual character formatting). My experience: This worked straight away, but after I closed then re-opened the document and updated the TOC, the tab came back.
- (Related to the suggestion above) Clear the paragraph styles for the TOC using a macro. My experience: I didn’t try this as the initial suggestion only provided a temporary fix for me.
- Insert an additional tab (e.g. 0.25 cm) just before the tabs that aren’t working properly and set it to the same formatting (left/right aligned, dotted line etc.) as the ‘broken’ tab. My experience: This solution changed nothing for me. However, it’s possible that I interpreted the instructions incorrectly.
- Drag the marker off the ruler. My experience: This works, but it’s only a temporary solution. As soon as you update the TOC, it comes back.
- It’s related to the heading style, not the TOC style, so check the heading style. My experience: I could see nothing in the Heading 2 style that could have created a 3.5 cm tab marker. And even if there was, why wasn’t it doing it to ALL my short TOC 2 entries?
- Add an extra tab with similar properties a short distance (but greater than 0.1 cm) before the offending tab in the Style for that TOC entry within the document only – not within the template – makes it go away in that document and it never comes back. My experience: This solution changed nothing for me. However, it’s possible that I interpreted the instructions incorrectly.
- There’s more on this and other TOC switches here:
- There’s specific stuff on the Jason tab (which I didn’t need to use) here:
http://word.mvps.org/FAQs/Formatting/TOCJasonTabs.htm (Please note: much of this info is for much earlier versions of Word, so may or may not work in Word 2007/2010; update August 2011: the macro in this webpage works fine in Word 2007)
- Fixing TOC text that butts up against the page number: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/word-text-butting-up-against-page-numbers-in-a-toc/