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No table of contents entries found – Problem Solved

Have you been presented with an empty Table of Content with the message that says “No table of contents entries found”?

In such a case, you’ll be presented with a message like the one in the picture below:

No table of content found

Or maybe you successfully inserted the Table of Content, however, some paragraphs/ headings didn’t appear.

If you are getting this message, you need to learn How to Properly Insert Table of Content in Word. However, I’ll teach you how to fix this problem in this guide.

If your Table of Content says “No table of contents entries found”, or does not include certain paragraphs or headings, it means one of two things: either you failed to assign proper heading styles throughout your documents or you failed to assign proper paragraph levels to your document styles.

Therefore, this problem can be solved by addressing the above possible causes. This article will show you how.

Fix 1: Before you insert the Table of content, first Apply Heading styles

Heading styles are related to a lot of important features in MS Word to format and manage documents.

A lot of Microsoft Word’s advanced features, including Table of Contents, are based in the correct usage of the heading styles.

Therefore, Word can automatically generate a Table of Content based on the heading styles you set in your document.

Apply the heading styles correctly and you’ll be able to insert a trouble-free Table of Content.

However, if you fail to properly apply these heading styles, word will tell you that “No table of contents entries found”. Or some of your document paragraphs/headings will not show in the TOC.

To apply a heading style, follow the steps below:

  • Select the heading text. For instance, if you want Chapter one to show in your table of content, select chapter one in your document.
  • Go to Home > Styles, and select Heading 1, 2, or 3.

 See the illustration below:

Apply Heading Styles Illustration

Use Heading1 style for main headings, Heading2 style for sub-headings, and Heading3 style for sub-sub-headings. You can also use more headings if there are more sub-headings under the main heading.

Very Important: Look through your document and search for all the paragraphs/headings that aren’t showing in the TOC and apply the heading styles to each one of them.

After successfully applying the heading styles throughout your document, you can now insert or update the Table of Content without encountering the “No Table of Content entries found” problem.

In case you don’t know yet, to insert Table of Content in word, follow the steps below:

  • Place the insertion pointer at the top of the page that will contain the table of content.
  • Go to Reference > Table of Contents, and select either Automatic Table 1 or Automatic Table 2.
Automatic Table of Content 1 and 2

Automatic Table 1 inserts a label (Contents) followed by the table of content itself. And Automatic Table 2 inserts a label (Table of Contents), followed by the table of content.

As soon as you click on of these options, Word will be more than glad to give you a beautiful TOC.

Completed TOC

NOTE: There’s another option called Manual Table of Content that allows you to manually fill out the entire list independently of the document content. Never use this option unless you know what you are doing.

Fix 2: Assign Proper Paragraph Levels to your document

The other factor that can cause Word to say “No table of content entries found” is that you failed to assign proper paragraph levels to your document’s styles.

For instance, if you used Heading 2 styles throughout your document, and limit the paragraph levels to level 1, Word will search for only Heading1 styles to generate the Table of content. Meanwhile, there are only Heading2 styles applied throughout the document.

If this happened, the TOC will say that No table of content entries found which may not be the case.

To avoid this problem, always set the level of your TOC according to the heading styles used. If you used up to Heading 3 or 4 different styles, then the paragraph level too should be set to level 3 or 4 respectively.

To set level styles in Word’s TOC, follow the steps below.

Option 1: Set paragraph levels by editing an Existing TOC.

In this option, it is assumed that you’ve already generated your Table of Content and would like to now set the paragraph levels to show all TOC entries.

  • Step 1: Make sure All your heading styles are properly applied. It is a good practice to use Heading1 style for main titles or headings, Heading2 style for sub-titles and Heading3 style for sub-sub-titles, and so on.
  • Step 2: Right-click anywhere in the Table of Content, a shortcut menu will appear. Select Edit Field.
Table of Content: Edit fields

This step will display the Fields dialog

  • Step 3: In the Field names box, search for TOC and highlight it. To locate the TOC fast, in the Category dropdown list, select Index and Tables, then TOC in the Field names box.
  • Step 4: In the “Field properties” area, click the Table of Contents… button to open the Table of Contents dialog.
Table of Content dialog
  • Step 5: Click the Table of Contents tab.
  • Step 6: Under the General section near the bottom of the dialog, in the Show levels option, increase the number of levels to match the number of different heading styles you used in your document
  • Step 7: Then click OK.

At this point, you will be prompted with a dialog asking you whether you want to replace the existing Table of Content. 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.

The above steps will guide you true if you already insert your TOC and want to edit the number of paragraph levels it’ll show.

In the option below, you’ll learn how to set paragraph levels at the time of creating your TOC.

Option 2: If you haven’t inserted the TOC yet.

  • Properly apply the heading styles.
  • Place the insertion pointer in the page you want to insert the Table of Content.
  • Type the title of the table. Say, Table of Content (that’s my favorite title). You can use a more interesting title that best suits your document.
  • Press the Enter key to move to the next line.
  • Go to Reference > Table of Contents, and select Custom Table of Contents.

See screenshot:

Custom Table of Content

This step will display the Table of Contents dialog box, as shown below:

Table of Content Dialog
  • Under the General section near the bottom of the window, in the Show levels option, increase the levels depending on the number of different heading styles you used throughout your document. For example, if you used Heading 1 style through Heading5 style in your document, that means that you used five different heading styles. In such case, the level should be increased to 5.
Increase the levels

Wrapping Up on “No table of contents entries found” in Word

Mastering the art of inserting a Table of Content in Microsoft Word can greatly enhance your document’s structure and readability. By understanding the critical role of heading styles and paragraph levels, you can avoid common pitfalls such as the frustrating “No table of contents entries found” message.

Remember, the key to a flawless Table of Content lies in diligently applying heading styles to your headings and setting the appropriate paragraph levels to match the structure of your document.

Whether you’re preparing an academic paper, a business report, or any document requiring a structured outline, these tips will ensure your Table of Content is both accurate and visually appealing.

We hope this article has equipped you with the knowledge to seamlessly incorporate a Table of Content into your Word documents, making them more navigable and professional.

Thanks for reading this article.

Jimin of BTS

Monday 28th of February 2022

It was reallyyyy helpfull thank you so much !!!

Abarika Abdulai

Tuesday 1st of March 2022

You Welcome Jamin


Thursday 3rd of December 2020

hi i have a issue. i created list of figures and list of tables after insertion of figure captions. however, after some days, when trying to open the document and update, the list of figures gets updates and table of content and when i tried to insert list of figures, it says no entry found. i have lots of figures so very difficult to again insert captions. i was able to make list of figures first time, what is the issue that i am not able to update the consecutive time ?

qiuqiu online

Wednesday 2nd of September 2020

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