Google Documents - Using a Table of Contents

Often I get asked how to make links within a long Google Document.  While this is a useful skill to have, upon further questioning most people really want a Table of Contents page that links to the major headings and sub-headings of the document - similar to what I have here in a Google Document I used for a recent meeting:

Really, a table of contents area can be a powerful and quick tool to use in longer documents.  And learning how to create them may actually make you more efficient if you are a person that likes to take time to format your headings within the document.

Here are the steps on how to setup and insert your Table of Contents - to start, here is a picture of my document prior to my setting it up:

Note that in addition to the table of contents not being there, my headings look like normal text at this point.

1. First you need to "mark" what you want to appear in the table of contents.  To do this:

  • Put your cursor somewhere in your heading 
  • Click on the formatting tool bar where it says "Normal text" and select a heading (for my example, I am using Heading 2 for each of my headings.)
  • Go through your document and repeat for all headings you want to appear in the table of contents

2. Once your headings are all set, place your table of contents.  To do this:

  • Put your cursor where you want your table of contents to be located
  • Go to the Insert menu and select Table of Contents

Your table of contents is now created using the headings you marked.

If you make changes and want to see how the table of contents is affected, if you mouse over the upper-right corner of the box that contains the table of contents there is a refresh arrow.  

If you want headings & sub-headings, set your text that are headings to Heading 1, your sub-heading lines to Heading 2, and your sub-sub-heading lines to Heading 3).  If you have used sub-headings, here is an example of how they nest (indent) using my table of contents:

You will notice that using the headings will also change the formatting and spacing slightly - I will go over how to customize them in another post.

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