How to Update Table of Contents in Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to update table of contents in word

Updating the table of contents (TOC) in Microsoft Word is straightforward. First, open your document and navigate to the TOC. Click on the TOC to select it, then click "Update Table." You’ll have the option to update the entire table or just the page numbers. Select your choice and click "OK." Your TOC will be refreshed based on the latest content in your document.

How to Update Table of Contents in Word

In this section, we’ll break down the steps to update the table of contents in a Word document. This will ensure your TOC reflects the most recent changes to your headings and page numbers.

Step 1: Open Your Document

Open the Word document containing the table of contents you want to update.

Make sure your document is saved and ready for editing. If you haven’t added a TOC yet, you’ll need to do so before you can update it.

Step 2: Locate the Table of Contents

Scroll through your document to find the table of contents.

The TOC is usually at the beginning of your document. If you have a large document, using the navigation pane can help you quickly locate it.

Step 3: Click on the Table of Contents

Click on any part of the table of contents to select it.

When the TOC is selected, it will be highlighted, and a small menu will appear above or below it. This indicates that you can now make changes.

Step 4: Click "Update Table"

In the small menu that appears, click on "Update Table."

This button is often labeled as "Update Table" or "Update Table of Contents" and will open a dialog box with update options.

Step 5: Choose Update Option

Choose whether you want to update the entire table or just the page numbers.

Select "Update page numbers only" if you’ve only changed the length of your content. Select "Update entire table" if you’ve added or removed headings.

Step 6: Click "OK"

Click the "OK" button to finalize the update.

Your table of contents will now refresh to reflect the most recent changes in your document. Double-check to ensure everything looks correct.

After completing these steps, your table of contents will be updated to reflect the most recent changes to your headings and page numbers. This ensures that readers can easily navigate your document using the TOC.

Tips for How to Update Table of Contents in Word

  • Regularly update your table of contents to ensure it accurately reflects your document’s structure.
  • Use the navigation pane to quickly locate your TOC in larger documents.
  • If you frequently add new sections, consider enabling automatic updates for your TOC.
  • Customize your TOC styles for better readability and consistency with your document’s design.
  • Save a copy of your document before making significant updates to avoid losing important content.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I don’t update my TOC?

If you don’t update your table of contents, the page numbers and headings listed may be inaccurate, making it difficult for readers to navigate your document.

Can I add new headings and update my TOC?

Yes, you can add new headings to your document. Simply refresh the TOC using the steps outlined above to include the new headings.

How often should I update my TOC?

It’s a good practice to update your TOC every time you make significant changes to your document, especially before finalizing it for distribution.

Is there a way to update the TOC automatically?

Yes, you can configure Word to update the TOC automatically whenever you make changes to your document, although the default is manual updating.

Can I customize the appearance of my TOC?

Absolutely! You can change the styles and formatting of your TOC to match the rest of your document through the “Table of Contents” options in Word.


  1. Step 1: Open your document.
  2. Step 2: Locate the table of contents.
  3. Step 3: Click on the table of contents.
  4. Step 4: Click "Update Table."
  5. Step 5: Choose update option.
  6. Step 6: Click "OK."


Updating the table of contents in Word might seem like a small task, but it’s crucial for maintaining a well-organized document. Think of your TOC as a roadmap for your readers; without it, navigating through your content can be like wandering in a maze without a guide.

By following these steps, you’ll ensure that your TOC is always up-to-date, helping your readers find what they need quickly and efficiently. Make it a habit to refresh your TOC regularly, especially before sending out your document to others.

Remember, keeping your TOC current is not just about aesthetics—it’s about functionality. It allows your readers to jump straight to the sections they’re interested in, improving their overall reading experience.

So next time you add or remove sections, adjust your document length, or make any significant changes, take a moment to update your TOC. It’s a small effort that makes a big difference.