MSWord: TOC Custom Formatting

Introduction: The purpose of this article is to provide the MSWord 2007 user with the methodology for taming and formatting the TOC, eg., Table of Contents, that is generated via MSWord TOC feature/menu option.

Problem:  While the automated table of contents builder it is a nice feature for Word, the results while accurate can look pretty lousy.   And word does not easily give us the control we are entitled to for formatting the TOC as we need it to be and or to match the formatting in the rest of the document.   So formatting in Word can sometimes be a monstrous task in itself, especially with l-a-r-g-e documents and can require much time and much experience to tame it, in spite of all at the fancy features msword provides us.

Solution: The best way to tame the TOC is to convert it into table of text that can be easily managed by us.

Note: Formatting the TOC should be the final phase of your creation because the page numbers and subtitles will be the final talley, instead of being a variable.  So while you are building your document, have word generate a TOC as many times as you desire.  But save the formatting of the TOC as the last phase to finalize your document project.

Step 1: Create a working copy of the original manuscript and use the following steps on the copy of your manuscript until you perfect the methodology.

Step 2:  Highlight the table of contents by simply placing your cursor somewhere on the First line.   The gray areas should turn into something like a light colored blue, indicating the text is selected.

Step 3: Next break all the links, ie automated links, by pressing: Shift+Ctrl+F9

Step 4: Re-highlight the block of text

Step 5: Next select >Insert>Table> Convert Text to Table

Step 6: Then ensure that 2 columns are selected. Next separate text as “Tabs” is selected. Then click OK.

Essentially, the above steps released the TOC from words control and is now in your control with full formatting rights.  The following steps will help tame the page numbers:

Step 7: Select Column 2, ie highlight Column 2

Step 8: Go to Styles and Select “No Spacing”, then apply

Step 9: Reselect Column 2 and Right Justify/Align the Text, ie Page Numbers

The final step is to format the table itself:

Step 10: Adjust both columns to preferred width, remove borders, etc…

The results will be that on the copy of the document, you will now have a TOC that has been converted into a Table of Text.   Now using standard formatting methods, the text can be touched up easily. At this time, you can insert dot leaders, smiley faces or whatever your heart fancies in order to make your document into something perfect for you.

Tip:  Once you have formatted your TOC to perfection, I would make a copy of it in its own separate document file and save it as something like MyTOC.doc.  Then this way, if the original document is modified with the addition or removal of pages and causes the TOC to be out of sync, you can simply have Word automatically rebuild a new TOC.   Then you can take the updated information Word generated and copy them into the MyTOC.doc.   Afterwards simply delete the automated toc from your original document and replace with your revised and formatted version from your MyTOC.doc


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