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How to Make a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

Updated on October 28, 2012

E-Books need a table of contents

If you read e-books, you know that a table of contents is a priceless tool. Whereas a physical book may not need a TOC for the reader, when you are in digital mode, the TOC is the only way to find the page you are looking for without having to constantly swipe through hundreds of pages.

Making a TOC in Microsoft Word is not difficult. Here are step by step instructions.

Create the table of contents

After you have finished your manuscript, insert a page break in between the dedication page and the beginning of the first chapter. Do not use manual returns, as these will not convert to e-book format. Instead, go to the top of your screen, click on Insert, and then Page Break.

Make a list of all your chapter headings. There is no need for page numbers as e-books don't convert the same across all different devices. On some readers, it may be 100 pages, on others, only 95. Therefore, do not even include page numbers on your document.

Once you have the TOC written up, left justify it and we are ready to begin.

This is the table of contents for a report called, How to Make a Man Feel Safe in a Relationship
This is the table of contents for a report called, How to Make a Man Feel Safe in a Relationship | Source

Insert bookmarks

Now you want to insert a bookmark before the beginning of each chapter heading. Go to the first chapter and put your cursor right before the first letter of the header. Go up to Insert on the menu bar and choose Bookmark. A little box will pop up asking you to name the bookmark. I find that it is easiest to type in the heading (I make it one word with no spaces). Do not use characters or symbols as it will not accept them. Make sure the option Sort by Name is turned on. When you are finished, continue through all the headings until they have bookmarks.

*Note: You will not be able to see the bookmark, but it is there!


Creating the link in the table of contents

Once you have inserted all the appropriate bookmarks, it is time to create the links. First go back to the TOC page. Highlight the first chapter name, go to Insert, and choose Hyperlink. (The shortcut is control K).

A box will pop up. First you want to locate where it says, Web Page, Document, or Email Address. Click on Document. When you click on it, you'll notice that the Locate button is now available. Click on it. Another box will pop up that says, Top of Document, Headings, and Bookmarks. Click on Bookmarks and it should give you a list of all the bookmarks you just made.

Find the bookmark that corresponds with the right heading and choose it. Click Okay. The smaller box will disappear and you will see the original pop up box with a bunch of fields entered in. Go ahead and click okay.

Your chapter heading in the TOC should now be underlined and blue. To test the link, simply click on it. If it takes you to the right chapter heading, then you have done it correctly!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
All linked!
All linked!
All linked! | Source

Other options

Create a Beginning button at the end of the book
You can easily create a link at the end of your book that brings the reader back to the beginning of the book. Simply write the word Beginning, highlight it, and click Insert Hyperlink. Choose the Document option and when the bookmark box pops up, choose the option that says, At the Top of the Document.

Highlights and footnotes
If you have an especially long book, you may want to save some of your descriptions in an appendix. Any footnotes you have, list them at the end of the document. Then insert and label bookmarks in front of each description.

Go through your document and when a word appears in the paragraph that requires further explanation, simply highlight the word and insert the hyperlink. Follow the same steps as mentioned above.

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This simple technique goes a long way in the reader's ability to navigate an e-book, which can be especially difficult if you are writing a handbook of sorts. You want them to be able to find the information they need quickly, and they will be more likely to buy your next book if you have taken the time to make these simple hyperlinks.


About the author

Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer, e-book author, and MS Word guru. She has taught many workshops on navigating the popular word program and hopes you can benefit from this tutorial.

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    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      Was working on my TOC and when googled found this hub :) Thanks once again, Julie :)

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 5 years ago from India

      Nice work. I was checking continuously for this particular info and I’m impressed! Very helpful and shared!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Voted up, and all...but I think my older version of MSWord has become corrupted, as I could not make it work.

      I opened up a bogus couple of pages right next to your article so I could go back and forth to try the instructions. I got as far as where you are to select the hyperlink from the 'document'.. (my version has a button that only reads, "web page..." as the first choice, and document shows up later...but at that point, it would not work..I just kept giving me an error message, "error browsing files."

      I don't know how to fix this; I can't afford to buy a new program; and this was a bundled part of MS Office, not the MS Word stand-alone program. If I uninstall it, I fear I could lose all the documents already created as well (hundreds!). I guess "backitup" applies....

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 5 years ago

      Huh...I've always wondered how to do this! Great stuff, Julie! I'm bookmarking this :D

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      This is a very useful, informative hub, Julie. The screen shots are especially helpful. Thanks! Voted Up++

    • EuroNinila profile image

      Fotinoula Gypsyy 5 years ago from NYC BABY

      Great hub! Very helpful, thanks :)

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Do very helpful and agree with the others on this one. I am thinking of trying my hand at writing an e-book in the future so I have pinned this to refer to, so thank you. Have also voted up, shared and tweeted too!!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      Great explanation--I have so struggled with this in my academic writing---

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This is great to know. Very good, thank you.

    • chicagoguy profile image

      Raj Lally Batala 5 years ago from Chicago ,USA

      very helpful !!

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 5 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      I was wondering how to do this yesterday how to do this, and here it is! Thank you so much for the information.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write this all out with screen shots. This is going to help tremendously with most of us who seem to be in the dark on some of this stuff.

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi, very good article, I must try to follow the instructions! This is going to be very useful in the near future (I hope!) Have a good day!

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Extremely informative and will be very useful in the future. Am listing it in my favorites for reference. Great job, but that's expected from you! : )

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very helpful information; good job Julie!