How to add table of contents in Google docs

This tutorial, we will see how to add table of contents in Google docs.

Google Docs is a completely free, cross-platform website that synchronizes documents across phones, tablets, and desktops with a word processor that works both online and offline. All you need is just a Google account.

What is a table of contents?

A table of contents in google docs is for navigating to a section of your google document quickly. You can navigate to the titled sections of your google docs that use heading styles since the table of content is linked to the titles of docs. 

Advantages of using the Table Of Contents in Google docs

  • A Google Docs table of contents apart from showing the list of topics, it also provides jump links that help you to navigate.
  • A document with a table of contents has a more professional appearance.
  • Table of Contents will give a roadmap for your content.
  • Table of Contents will remain even after converting into a PDF or Word document.
  • If you are creating a HyperDoc with lots of stuff in it, eBooks, or your own adventure books, it is easy to jump to different units with google docs.

It is a very easy process to make your own table of contents, add content, subtract content, and even update.

Below are the step-by-step instructions for creating and updating a table of contents in Google Docs.

You may like following Google docs tutorials:

How to add a Table of contents in Google docs

The Table of Contents is the best way to display each section and its page number that it can be found on especially if you’re writing a detailed, long content.

There are several ways you can create a Table Of Contents.

They are

  • Table Of Contents using formatting
  • Table Of Contents using Bookmarks
  • Table Of Contents using Document Outline (Sidebar)

Table of Contents using formatting

The most common way you can insert a Table Of Contents in your Google Doc is only after ensuring all subheadings in google docs are formatted with a heading tag. You have to highlight your subheadings in the formatting bar.

Formatting Google Docs Table of Contents

The Google Docs Table Of Contents is inserted using the standard text format of your document. All you have to do is highlighting the entire table of contents.

Click Format > paragraph styles

You can see the headings ranging from 1 to 6. These headings will come in handy when you are creating a Table of Contents in Google docs.

add table of contents in google docs

Google docs table of contents levels (Headers)

Once you have all your headings and sub-headings identified, you are ready to create a Table of Contents.

As a general rule of thumb, the Heading 1 tag should be your main title, Heading 2 tags should be subheadings, and Heading 3 tags should be sections below a subheading.

First, place your cursor where you want your Table of Contents to appear or hold your cursor where you like to insert your table of content.

The top-level headers whether you start with Heading 1 or Heading 2 are flush with the left margin. Next level headers will be indented accordingly.

Two available types of Table of Contents

 Click Insert > Table of contents to choose an option based on your preference from the two available types of Table of Contents. 

how to add table of contents in google docs

1) With Blue Links: If you want to share your document electronically, it will be useful since the links will be visible.

2) With Page Numbers: It does include the hyperlinks for online readers but is not visible. It will be useful for the printed edition documents or books.

Google Docs Table Of Contents numbering

Page numbers make your document easy to navigate, help to identify the chapters in Table of Contents, and also helps for printed versions.

To include page numbers, simply select the numbered option when inserting a table of contents from the Insert menu.

Click Insert > Table Of Contents > Page Number

Google Docs Table Of Contents links

Creating a Table Of Contents Using the built-in Table of Contents feature in Google Docs will create a clickable Table of Contents which has headings hyperlinked to the relevant pages in the same docs.

This makes readers navigate easily to the chapter they want by clicking on the chapter name on the Table Of Contents page.

Just with one click, you can create a Table of Contents page in Google Docs document editor. All you need to do is following some basic document formatting and inserting.

What if you don’t want to format some of your text as a “title” or “heading”? Well, bookmarks are the answer for you.

Table Of Contents using Bookmarks

You can also create a clickable Table of Contents in Google Docs, without formatting the title and subtitles with Headings.

Steps to follow :

  1. First, select the title or subtitle you want to include in your The Table of Contents. 
  2. Click Insert > Bookmark 
how to make a table of contents in google docs with page numbers
table of contents in google docs

3. Right-click on the text link and copy the link address.

4. In the Table of Contents page, select the chapter name.

5. Use shortcut Ctrl+K to insert the copied link.

6. You can now jump to the required chapter.

There are a few different ways to do this.

Table Of Contents using Document Outline

Document Outline is the most convenient way but this won’t work for creating links in your document itself. If your aim is just to navigate the document quickly without considering how other people (users) navigate your document, the Document Outline is the best one that suits you.

An outlining tool automatically creates a table of contents in the sidebar that can be clicked through, for easy document navigation. An outlining tool makes it easier to navigate your novel. Table of Contents sidebar generates a table of contents by extracting all the headings on the page.

Everything that you format as Title, Subtitles, or Headings automatically comes under the Document Outline. An important fact is that it also adds things that just look like headings to this list ( bold and underlined contents). 

Your document’s viewers can see the document outline only if they go to View and turn it on the option by themselves.

All you have to do to view the document outline which looks just like your Google Docs Table Of Contents is by enabling the left sidebar. To do this, just,

Click Show document outline icon 

at the upper left corner of the document.

table of contents google docs template

This will display the document outline on the left even as you’re scrolling through your document. You can select any section in this outline to jump to that section of the document.

How to update Table of Contents?

One thing you should aware of is as you start writing your document is that if you update any existing headers or add any new chapters, the table of contents won’t update automatically.

To update your table of contents, you need to scroll back up to the section where you inserted your new chapters and click in the table of contents area. You will see a circular arrow which is the refresh button that appears on the upper left corner of the Table Of Contents.

To incorporate all of the changes you’ve made to the document, select this refresh icon that updates the Table of Contents.

An alternative way for refreshing is

Right-click >pop-up>Update

This makes the contents updated in your document.

Google docs table of contents template

Google Docs is a powerful productivity tool that allows you to create a number of different documents, including a table of contents.

The structure of a table of contents document can be difficult to create sometimes as there are many word processing applications. 

Fortunately, there is zero cost available table of contents templates in Google Docs that we can use for our mere purpose.

Once you have opened the template you can begin customizing the template to suit your own needs. Google Docs offers many document templates that you can use to save time and effort if you don’t want to start with the standard blank page.

The above said are the instructions to create Table Of Contents in Google docs and using it in an effective way.