Word: Add more levels to a TOC

September 19, 2012

By default, Word inserts a Table of Contents (TOC) with three levels of headings. For most people, that’s usually more than enough. However, for very long complex reports, sometimes you need to report more levels — in the case of my client, the regulatory body they were reporting to needed to see five TOC levels. Or perhaps three levels is too many, and you need to just show the Heading 1s.

It’s easy enough to change the TOC levels, but there’s a good chance they won’t indent correctly below the other TOC levels if you’ve set up TOC 1, TOC 2 and TOC 3 styles to indent differently than the default.

Here are instructions for doing both.

Change the heading levels reported in the TOC

  1. Click anywhere inside the TOC.
  2. Go to the References tab > Table of Contents > Insert Table of Contents.
  3. On the Table of Contents window, change the Show levels setting from 3 to 4 or 5, depending on how deep you want to go. Change it to 1 or 2, if you want a much shorter TOC.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Say Yes to replace the existing TOC.

If you also have an automated List of Tables and/or List of Figures, the pagination for these will likely be incorrect as a result of increasing or decreasing the TOC levels, so update those two tables as well.

Modify the TOC 4 and TOC 5 styles

If you want your new TOC levels to be indented below the existing ones, then you may need to change some of the default settings for the TOC 4 and TOC 5 styles. These instructions assume you are comfortable with modifying a style. You’ll need to experiment a bit with the paragraph and indentation settings to get them right for you.

  1. Click anywhere inside the TOC.
  2. Go to the References tab > Table of Contents > Insert Table of Contents.
  3. Click the Modify button.
  4. Select the TOC level style you want to modify, then click the Modify button on the Style window.
  5. On the Modify Style window, clear the Automatically Update check box (optional), then click the Format button and select Paragraph.
  6. On the Paragraph window, consider changing any or all of these settings:
  7. If you need to change the tab settings, click the Tabs button and make the changes there (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/05/12/word-modify-table-of-contents-tab-settings/).
  8. Click OK several times to close these windows.
  9. Say Yes if you are asked to re-insert the TOC.
  10. Check that it’s all as you want — if not, repeat these steps changing the paragraph and tab settings until you get it looking how you want.

[Links last checked September 2012]


  1. You are a GENIOUS!!!!! :)))
    You go straight to the point, instead of so much blah blah blah… I spent hours reading those and getting nowhere!
    Thank you!!!

  2. In my general menu under “Formats” its not showing a field for “Show Levels”… any idea why?

  3. Hi Michelle

    I have no idea why you’re not seeing that. I opened a new blank doc with NO headings at all and still get that field showing. I’m on a PC using Word 2010 — are you using a Mac? (I can’t answer questions about Word for Mac as I don’t use it).

    Also, as far as I recall this ‘Show Fields’ has been in Word since at least Word 2000, and likely before, so it’s not a new feature.

    I suggest you close Word, shut down you computer, restart, reopen Word and see if it shows then.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: