Word: Getting a two-line heading onto one line in the Table of Contents

February 24, 2011

Larry had a problem. He had a heading on two lines, and he wanted the heading to display on a single line in the Table of Contents (TOC).

Here’s an example of what he had; both lines are styled with Heading 1:

Because each line is in a separate paragraph, Word treats them as two separate Heading 1s when it creates the automatic TOC:

What Larry wanted was for the two lines to remain in the body of the document but display on one line in the TOC.

The simplest solution to this is to use a ‘soft return’ (Shift+Enter) between the lines in the body of the document, instead of Enter. It looks like this (with formatting marks showing):

And when you update the TOC, you select Update entire table:

Your TOC now displays the text on one line:

Personally, I don’t like how the title butts up against the section label, so I added five spaces after ‘Section 3’ (I could have used a Tab):

This extra space makes the TOC more readable, in my opinion:

[Links last checked February 2011]


  1. That soft enter idea saved me a lot of time. Thanks a lot.

  2. Thanks. That really helped me out!!

  3. This totally saved my bacon in regards to my master’s thesis. No one seemed to be able to help me. What an elegant solution to a difficult problem.

  4. This solves the problem but creates another one. The second heading assumes the format of the first heading. The text has the first heading left justified and the second heading centered. Using the soft return makes both left justified or centered.

  5. Hi Jeff

    Yes. The soft return means that both ‘lines’ are now treated as one paragraph — this is by design.Therefore, they take on the formatting of a single paragraph. You can decide to have left OR center (or right) justified, but you can’t have both with a soft return, as far as I know.


  6. If you then press Ctrl Tab on the second line, it will act like a normal Tab but your Table of Contents will still be on the same line

  7. Thank you :)

  8. Could not find this in word, in the tutorials, anywhere. You said it and easily and had an easy fix. Thanks

  9. Hi, I did what you said and now have one-line headings in my TOC. However, this doesn’t work when inserting the heading in a header/footer; it stays on 2 lines. What must I do to force the header to consider the heading as 1 line? Thank you in advance.

  10. Hi Cherinam

    I’m not sure if you’re using field codes in your header, but if you’re not, why not just manually remove the paragraph mark between the two lines and replace it with a space or two (or a tab)?


  11. Dang, this doesn’t work for me. It shows the soft return shift+enter when the formatting is turned on, but it doesn’t adjust the Table of Contents. Any other ideas?

  12. doesn’t work for me either :-(

  13. oh wait! I realized my problem. Track changes need to be off for this to work…

  14. This was pretty helpful to me. How then can I have the TOC show a colon (:) between the section and title for example as such;


  15. Hi Will

    In your example, it doesn’t look like you’re using outline numbering, as my authors do. If that’s the case, then you’d have to manually type ‘Section: ‘ at the beginning of each Heading 1.

    If you *are* using outline numbering, then you have to add the word ‘Section’ and the colon as part of the multilevel numbering scheme.


  16. This was an awesome post! Totally saved my booty… and my new book!

  17. Thank you for this information. It helped me a lot.

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