Free Table of Contents Templates (for Microsoft Word)

Whether you are writing a book, large essay, dissertation, or other longer academic papers, you will have to include a table of contents. It will act as a roadmap for the reader to each portion of your writing. It helps the reader to locate specific information in a document or revisit their favorite parts easily within the text. A well-structured TOC should simplify the way the reader finds what they are looking for and should always be placed on a separate page, just after the first page of an academic paper and after the abstract.

Depending on the type of writing, you may find that different documents require different styles of a TOC. Some may require numbers, while others may require a non-numbered TOC. It is, therefore, the writer’s duty to check the type of TOC they are required to include in their writing.

Free Table of Contents Templates

Free Table of Content Template 01 for Illustrator and Word File
Printable Table of Content Template 02 for Illustrator and Word File
Editable Table of Content Template 03 for Word And Illustrator File
Printable Table of Content Template 04 for Illustrator and Word File
Printable Table of Content Template 05 for Word and Illustrator File
Downloadable Table of Content Template 06 for Illustrator and Word File
Printable Table of Content Template 07 for Word and Illustrator File
Editable Table of Content Template 08 for Word and Illustrator File
Printable Table of Content Template 09 for Illustrator and Word File
Customizable Table of Content Template 10 for Illustrator and Word File

    Simple templates

    Free Simple Table of Contents Template 01 for Word File

    Printable Simple Table of Contents Template 02 for Word File

    Editable Simple Table of Contents Template 03 for Word File

    Free Simple Table of Contents Template 04 for Word File

    Free Simple Table of Contents Template 05 for Word File

    Downloadable Simple Table of Contents Template 06 for Word File

    Printable Simple Table of Contents Template 07 for Word File

    Free Simple Table of Contents Template 08 for Word File

    Free Simple Table of Contents Template 09 for Word File

    Free Simple Table of Contents Template 10 for Word File

      What is a Table of Contents?

      A Table of Contents (TOC) is an organized list of all the parts of a document or book organized in the order in which the parts appear.

      The TOC usually contains the titles, chapters, figures, and major sections of a document clearly labeled by their page number. It should be added last or updated after completing the whole document or book to capture all the contents accurately.

      The Purpose of table of contents

      If a book, business proposal, business report, or publication is long enough to include chapters, then a TOC will likely be included at the beginning of the book, report, or publication.

      The TOC provides a sequential list of the book’s organizational structure, most commonly denoting the title, chapter number, and the starting page location. The chapter, page number, and title will help guide the reader in finding specific sections.

      Basically, it serves two main purposes; one is to provide the reader with a general overview of what is contained in the document and how the content is organized, and the other is to enable the reader to go directly to the specific section of an on-line document.

      Key Elements of a Table of Contents

      The TOC is where one lists the chapters and major sections of their document, together with their page numbers. A clear and well-out table is very important as it indicates a quality paper is structured.

      The key elements that should be included in the TOC are:

      • The page titles
      • Clear headings and subheadings
      • The page numbers that show where in the document each section can be found

      When creating your table, make sure to include all level one and two headings. You may also decide to include level three headings, although they are optional to include and should not be included in the TOC has reached its maximum length of two pages.


      Level One:  CHAPTER 2: Literature Review

      Level Two: 2.1 Overview of Information

      Level Three: 2.1.1 Discipline of Knowledge


      Ensure that you use clear headings throughout your document to make your table easy to understand. Keep in mind that the reader will see the table first before reading through your document.

      Other things to include in your table include the appendices and tables. Including these two, however, depend largely on how many there are in your document.

      If there are more than three tables and figures, you might consider listing them on a separate page. Else, you can include them in your table.

      Steps to Create a Table of Contents in MS Word

      For you to create a TOC in Microsoft Word, you must first define what you’d like to include in this part. First, start off by applying the different heading styles throughout your document.

      Once you’ve done that, follow these steps to insert a TOC in MS Word automatically:

      Step 1:

      Add a title on the TOC page. Ensure that you follow the standard format specific to your document or as per your department’s guidelines.

      Table of Contents Templates

      Step 2:

      Put your cursor where you want the table to go. The table is usually included between the abstract and the introduction.

      Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

      Step 3:

      In the ribbon, find the reference section and locate the TOC section. Use the search tab on the ribbon to search for the table.

      Insert Table of Contents in Word

      Step 4:

      Click the arrow that is next to the TOC icon and select Custom Table of Contents. Here, select the level of heading that you would like to include in your table and also make the necessary adjustments to each level by clicking the modify button.

      Click on Custom table of contents.

      Step 5:

      After you’ve made sure that everything is OK. Click OK, and your TOC will be automatically generated.

      Tips on Preparing Table of Contents

      It is recommended that you use your TOC template last after to make sure that it provides a clear overview of your document. You can still draw up a mock TOC in your early stages of writing to help you formulate a structure and think through your topics and how you are going to research.

      Make sure that all the heading levels are properly defined in your document before inserting the template.

      Remember that the reader will most likely go through your table first before diving into the document to get an overview of what to expect. Make sure that your TOC is clear and that it captures your entire document.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Should a table of contents include itself?

      No, the TOC is basically a snapshot of the headings, tables, and page numbers in a document and does not automatically update itself as you make changes. Anytime you make changes to your document, you can update it by simply right-clicking on it and selecting the update field.

      Should the introduction come before the table of contents?

      No, the TOC is usually included between the abstract and the introduction.

      Can a table of contents be two pages?

      Yes, the maximum length of a TOC should be two pages, regardless of the type of document you are writing.


      Regardless of your document’s type or size, using a TOC can help direct the readers to exactly where they want to be. Other than making your document more reader-friendly, the table also makes it easier for the author to go back and change or update contents throughout their document if necessary. By default, MS Word generates a TOC when you use the first three built-in heading styles, i.e., Heading 1, Heading 2, and Heading 3. To apply the different heading styles, simply select the style from the “Home” tab, or you can use a TOC template. Once you’ve properly defined the heading styles, follow the procedure given above to insert your table automatically.

      About This Article

      Maureen Taylor
      Authored by:
      Certified Microsoft Office Specialist, Design, Template Creation, Form Building
      Maureen Taylor is a recognized authority in the Microsoft Office suite, holding a distinguished certification that underscores her mastery. Based on her in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience, Maureen excels in design, seamlessly crafting visually compelling and functional assets. Her prowess extends to the creation of custom templates tailored to specific needs and the design of interactive forms that streamline data capture. Maureen's meticulous approach, combined with her knack for understanding user requirements, ensures that every project not only meets but often exceeds expectations. For businesses and individuals seeking an expert who can translate their vision into efficient Microsoft Office solutions, Maureen Taylor is the definitive choice.

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