Here’s the situation:

You’ve spent hours working on this project.

Finally, you’ve finished compiling your project in a Microsoft Word document.

You realized that the document was too long not to have a Table of Content. Or maybe the project requires that you insert a Table of Content.

Using Word’s Automatic Table of Content feature, you quickly generated a Table of Content in no time.

Yes, that was fast.

If you are satisfied with the result, congratulations on your achievement.

The truth is, it’s not always that you’ll generate a perfect TOC for your documents.

The font styles of various heading levels may differ from each other and the actual content. Font and paragraph settings may mess up again after updating the Table of Content.

Or maybe you just want to tweak your TOC to look great, like changing or removing the dotted lines (leading dots), removing page numbers, and so on.

If you’ve ever come across a need like this to edit your table of content in word, you are not alone.

In this article, I’ll explain how to edit table of content in word.

How to Edit Table of Content in Word

In the sections below, you’ll learn some of the ways to edit Microsoft Word’s Table of Content to suit your needs.

Edit TOC 1: Show or hide leading dots in TOC

When you generate a TOC in word, there always are leading dots (AKA dotted lines) that match each entry text to the page (numbers) on which they are.

By default, Word always shows the leading dots when you create a Table of Content without making any settings to hide it.

In this section, you’ll learn a step by step guide on how to edit your Table of Content to remove or show the leading dots.

Below are steps you can follow to perform this task:

  • Step 1: Make sure your ruler is visible. Go to View>Show>Ruler and place a check mark by the Ruler option.
Turn on Rulers
  • Step 2: Highlight the entire Table of Content starting from the beginning of the first entry text to the end of the last entry text.
Highlight the Table of Content
  • Step 3: Identify the Right Tab. At the right paragraph margin, there’s a small rectangle-like shape called Right Indent. On this shape is another black shape called Right Tab.
Identify the right-tab

The shape in the circle above is not one, but two which are placed on each other. You can click and drag (increase or decrease the Right Margin) to separate the two shapes since we are interested in one (the Right Tab)

See the illustration below:

Seperate the right tab from the Right Indent

After identifying the Right tab, move on to the next step.

  • Step 4: Double-click the Right tab at the right paragraph margin to display the Tabs window.

As seen above, double-clicking the Right tab sometimes may show a different dialog (the Page Setup) instead of the Tabs dialog. If that happens, it means you missed the target. In that case, you should close the Page Setup dialog and try again.

Double click the right tab

Another way to display the Tabs dialog is to go to Home>Paragraph Settings to display the Paragraph window.

Paragraph settings

Then click on Tabs at the bottom left area of the window.

Paragraph dialog
  • Step 5: Under the Leader section near the button of the dialog, click to select option 1 (None) then press OK.
Tabs dialog

After successfully performing this step, all the leading dots (or dotted lines) should disappear from the Table of Content.

NOTE: To display the leading dots (or Dotted lines) again, just follow the same procedure above and when you reach the last step, select option two. You can also change the style of leading dots you like by considering option 3 or 4.

Edit TOC 2: Hide some Headings from showing in Table of Content

When you generate Automatic Table of Content using the styles approach, every paragraph or heading you format with a heading style will appear in the Table of Content.

What if you don’t want some paragraphs or headings to appear in your TOC? What should you do?

It’s, simple!

Don’t format paragraphs with Styles

If you don’t want a heading to appear in your TOC, don’t format it with a heading style. If you already did, just format it with the normal paragraph style and update your Table of Content.

To apply a normal Paragraph style to text in Word:

  • Select the text
  • Go to Home>Styles and click the Normal style option.

See screen below:

Applying Normal Paragraph Style

Limiting Paragraph Levels to exclude some headings

You can also edit the paragraph levels to exclude a certain group of fields from your Table of Content.

For example, you used Heading1 and Heading2 styles to format your document headings and for some reason, you only want Heading1 fields to show in your Table of Content.

In this case, you should limit the paragraph level (to level 1) to only show Heading1 entries. Below steps will show you how:

  • Right-click anywhere in the Table of Content
  • Click Edit Field from the shortcut menu
TOC

This step will display the Fields dialog

  • In the Field names box, search for TOC and click on it. To locate the TOC fast, in the Category dropdown list, select Index and Tables, then TOC in the Field names box.
Fields dialog
  • In the Field Properties area, click the Table of Contents button to open the Table of Contents dialog.
  • Click the Table of Contents tab.
  • Under the General section near the bottom of the dialog, in the Show levels option, decrease the number of levels to 1 (if you want only Heading1 entries in your TOC) or set it to two (if you want Heading1 and Heading2 entries in your TOC).
  • Then click OK.

At this point, Word will prompt you with a dialog asking whether you want to replace the table. In other words, this prompt is asking you whether you want to update the existing Table of Content with the latest settings you made.

Replace this Table of Content?
  • Step 8: Click OK again to update the Table of Content.

See screenshot:

Table of Contents showing only Heading1 Paragraphs

Edit TOC 3: Show or hide page numbers

Especially when you are working on a document for web or eBook publishing, page numbers are not very important when generating Table of Content.

If for any reason you want to show or hide page numbers in your Table of Content, you can do so.

The steps below will show you how:

  • Right-click anywhere in the Table of Content
  • Click Edit Field from the shortcut menu
Right-click the TOC

This step will display the Fields dialog

  • In the Field names box, search for TOC and click on it. To locate the TOC fast, in the Category dropdown list, select Index and Tables, then TOC in the Field names box.
Fields dialog
  • In the Field Properties area, click the Table of Contents button to open the Table of Contents dialog.
  • Click the Table of Contents tab.
  • Remove the check mark by the Show page numbers option.
Disable Show Page Numbers
  • Click Ok to apply changes

Word will ask you whether you want to replace the existing Table of Content. Click yes to accept the changes.

Edit TOC 4: Change Table of Content fonts

It is possible for you to generate TOC only to realize that the font settings are not compatible with that of the actual content.

When that happens, you’ll need to edit the font settings of the Table of Content to match with that of your main content.

One way is to highlight all the entry texts of the TOC and format accordingly.

The problem with this approach is that: as soon as you update the Table of Content, the font settings will return to its defaults.

To skirt this limitation, you’ll have to modify the TOC styles to agree with the formatting of your main content.

Say, you used a font size of 14 for your main content and Times New Roman as the font style. Now, you need a Table of Content that has the same font size and style as the main content.

Below is a proper way to format your TOC entry text without any interruption when updated.

  • Right-Click in the Table of Content and select Edit Field from the shortcut menu. This will display the Fields dialog.
  • In the Category dropdown, select Index and Tables, and select TOC in the Field names box.
  • Click the Table of Contents… button.
Fields dialog

The Table of Contents window appears.

  • Click Modify at the bottom right corner of the window.

See screenshot:

Table of Content wondow

The Style dialog will appear with a list of styles. TOC 1 style is for Heading1, TOC 2 style is for Heading2, and so on in that order.

Styles dialog

What you’ll do here is that, select each style one after the other and modify it the way you want. In our case, we want for it a font size of 14 and Times New Roman as the font style.

That being said, you don’t have to Modify each style. Modify only TOC 1 and 2 if you are using two paragraph levels for your Table of Content. And if you are using 3 levels as in our case, then you’ll have to Modify TOC 3 also.

To modify the styles:

  • Click the style you want to modify.
  • Click Modify Just after the Preview box. The Modify Style dialog appears.
  • Perform all the necessary formatting and click OK.
Modify Styles dialog
  • Perform the same settings for TOC 2 and TOC 3 styles as you did for TOC 1.

NOTE: If you want, you can use different formatting for different styles. This means that your Table of Content too will be formatted differently between different levels.

  • Click OK again in the Style dialog.

Word will ask you whether you want to replace the existing Table of Content. Click yes to apply the changes.

Thanks very much for reading.