Creating a table of contents for your book, document or thesis can be a strenuous and time consuming process. That is, of course, unless you create a set of built-in styles that will automate this process. So, first of all, what exactly are these ‘Styles’? They are defined as the structural elements that format the paragraphs, headings and text of your document. They are essentially the pilot for a consistent flow for the text and are located in the Home tab as depicted in figure 1.
Figure 1. MS Office Styles
There is a plethora of Styles to choose from, each one with its own properties. In case you want to create or modify an existing style you can easily do so, according to your specifications, as shown in figure 2.
Figure 2. Modifying an Existing Style
In this example we chose to use Times New Roman, bold, size 16, justified at both ends with a 1.5 line space. This will be the Heading 1 Style which will be applied e.g. to the heading of each chapter. In a similar manner, we will create all styles that we want to include in the Table of Contents. Keep in mind that each style can be renamed in order for the user to distinguish it more readily.
Figure 3. Renaming Styles
The next step would be to specify the text we want to define as Heading 1, or Heading 2. We can easily do so by pressing CTRL + Shift + S which will open the Apply Style tab. Hence, we can now select the text we want to apply the desired style to.
Figure 4. Applying the Desirable Style on the Document’s Text
In this example, Heading 1 represents the title of the Chapter (e.g. Chapter 1), Heading 2 the title of each subchapter (e.g. Chapter 1.1) and Heading 3 any other minor subchapter title (e.g. Chapter 1.1.1.). Although we limited ourselves to three in the earlier example, note that you can define as many Headings (or styles) as you want.
The next crucial step is to select where you want to insert the Table of Contents. The most common position is somewhere near the beginning of the document. Hence, we click on References -> Table of Contents -> Insert Table of Contents. Remember that the purpose of using styles is to automate the process of creating a Table of Contents, hence, we need to select the ‘Automatic Table’ option. In case we choose ‘Manual Table’ the placeholder text will appear but will not be automatically updated when a change later occurs in the text.
Figure 5. Inserting the Table of Contents
Furthermore, and by clicking the Options tab we can find the individual style that we applied (under the Available styles) to the headings of the document. You can specify which level (TOC 1, 2, 3….) will represent each Style in the Table of Contents, as depicted in figure 6. In our example we defined three levels and the hierarchy as Heading 1, Heading 2 and Heading 3.
Figure 6. Specifying the TOC Hierarchy
Finally, by clicking OK we can view the Table of Contents referencing the relevant headings.
Figure 7. How the Table of Contents eventually looks like
To update the Table of Contents, simply right click and update the field (either page numbers or the entire table) as shown in figure 8.
Figure 8. Updating the Table of Contents
by John Sylo