You've built a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word using the Styles feature to mark the TOC entries or by marking them manually. And just when you're about to pat yourself on the back for having an automatic Table of Contents in your document, you notice something's a little ... off. Maybe the font's not quite right. Perhaps the font's okay but the spacing's not. Or the indentation. It could be you want/don't want the dot leaders running up to the page numbers.
Suffice it to say you just want to alter the format of it. But how?
First, let's take a look at a sample generated Table of Contents:
Right away, I see several problems:
- Fonts are not consistent. There's a mix of Times New Roman (the font for the rest of the brief) and Arial.
- I'd probably prefer a bit more white space between the second-level entries.
- I don't like the way the right indentation on the second-level entries is behaving — too close to the page numbers.
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Table of Contents: fix = replace
To fix the Table of Contents, I basically replace it. Yes, there are other ways to modify TOC entries (if you're already comfortable with Styles), but I prefer this method because it doesn't involve me searching all over the document for each Style and modifying it separately. To-may-to, to-mah-to.
First, we select the entire Table of Contents with the mouse and hit Delete.
Next, we can re-define the Table of Contents the way we want. To do that, we go to the References tab and find the Table of Contents menu on the far left:
That brings us to the Table of Contents dialog box. We'll click Modify at the bottom:
... which will take us to the Style dialog box:
The secret to controlling TOC formatting: Styles
This dialog box lists all of the Styles associated with Table of Contents entries. Since the Styles control the formatting of the entries in the Table of Contents, we need to modify the Styles to correct the formatting. The first entry that has incorrect formatting is TOC 2 (the second-level entries). Click on that (click #1 above) to see the current settings in the Preview window, then click on Modify (click #2).
Here's where we can fix everything that's wrong with the second-level TOC entries: we can change the font from Arial to Times New Roman with the drop-down in the center, and we can fix the paragraph issues (the right indentation and the amount of vertical space before and after) by clicking on the Format button at the bottom and choosing Paragraph from the menu.
That will take us to the familiar Format Paragraph dialog box:
We can repeat the same steps for any other TOC entries that need adjusting, but you get the idea, right?
To check our progress, we go back to the Table of Contents dialog box:
Use Print Preview as a guide
Notice how the Print Preview window (circled in red) has changed from the first time we saw it. Also notice that, if we want more/fewer TOC levels, or we want to alter or delete the dot leader, those options are available under General (in the lower third of the dialog box).
Now that we have finished modifying the TOC Styles, we can click OK to insert the new Table of Contents.
So, for my friend Judy, who has asked me repeatedly to do a tutorial on how to modify the format of a Table of Contents ... there it is!
This content is part of a course
What you've learned here is just a small part of my Brief Builder's Workshop course, where you can learn all sorts of skills for building better briefs, such as creating a Table of Authorities and configuring a Table of Contents (two ways). Click here for more information.