It doesn’t matter if you’re writing your first novel or writing a college essay, the Google Docs table of contents will help you organize your work.
When you insert a table of contents into Google Docs, it will automatically update based on how you format and structure your document. As the document changes, the table of contents will update every time you update the update.
This article will show you how to add a table of contents to your document and how to keep it updated.
Create a Google Docs table of contents
As you write your document, you create a table of contents. Each title you add becomes a different section in the table. Each subheading also becomes a subsection.
All you need to do to get started is create your first heading, select it, and then select the Plain Text drop-down list to select the top-level heading style.
There are two approaches you can use to create a table of contents. You can write the entire document first, creating each heading and subheading as you go. Or you can create your document with just headings and subheadings, essentially creating the whole structure before you start writing.
– / pre>
Either way, when you’re done, it’s easy to insert a table of contents into your document. Just place your cursor where you want to move the table of contents in Google Docs Then choose “Insert” from the menu and select “Table of Contents.”
In the submenu that appears, you will see two options.
- With page numbers: This will display every line of your table of contents with a page number where each heading and subheading is located.
- With blue links: Each line in your table of contents will appear as a link that, when clicked, takes you to the section in the document that contains that heading.
How to choose? If you plan to deliver the document in printed format, you should select the option with page numbers. If you are submitting or sharing it electronically, the blue link option is fine.
After selecting the option, the table of contents for Google Docs will appear in the document itself.
Table of Contents updates in Google Docs
As you can see, the table of contents itself is formatted according to how you structured your document.
Top-level headings (whether you start with H1 or H2) are flush with the left margin. Next level headings will be indented, etc.
One thing you may notice when you start writing your document is that if you update any existing headings or add new ones, the table of contents will not update automatically.
To update the table of contents, you need to scroll back to the section where you inserted it and click in the table of contents area. A round arrow (refresh button) will appear in the upper left corner of the table of contents.
By selecting this refresh icon, you will see that the table of contents is refreshed to include any changes you made to the document.
An alternative to using the refresh icon is to right-click on the table of contents and select â€œRefresh Table of Contentsâ€ from the pop-up menu.
Either method makes the table of contents fit the current structure of your working document.
Alternatively, you can view the document structure (which looks the same as your Google Docs table of contents) in the left sidebar. To do this, simply select the Show document structure icon in the upper left corner of the document.
In this case, the structure of the document will be displayed on the left even when scrolling the document. You can select any section (heading) in this structure to jump to that section of the document.
Format the Google Docs table of contents
Although the table of contents for Google Docs is inserted using your document’s standard text format, you can update it if you like.
Just select the entire table of contents, then choose “Format” from the menu, choose “Text” and choose “Size.”
In the submenu, you can choose “Increase font size” or “Decrease font size”.
This will update all content to the new formatting option you selected.
Additional search and navigation functionality
Another way to navigate a document using headings (as well as bookmarks, phrases, etc.) is by using the Search and Navigation add-on in Google Docs
After installing the add-on, select Add-Ins from the menu, select Search and Navigate and click Start.
This will open a panel on the right that you can use to navigate the document using the same headings as in the table of contents.
The reason this is slightly more useful than a regular TOC navigation bar is because other search functions are available.
- Bookmarks: Find any bookmarks you create in the document.
- Images: View all of the images you have included in your document.
- Tables: Scroll through all added tables.
- Search: Searches the entire document using any search terms or phrases.
In Settings, you can enable the add-in to autoplay every time you open a document. You can also enable case sensitive search.
Use table of contents
Not all documents you write require a table of contents. But if you often write research papers or similar documents and use a table of contents, Google Docs may meet your need. It’s also quick and easy to use in any document you create.