Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: TOC Heading Numbers Always Show in Bold.

TOC Heading Numbers Always Show in Bold

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 24, 2020)

1

Linda has a document which uses built-in heading styles that she's modified to use automatic numbering. When she generates a table of contents from these headings, the numbers and text are always bold. Linda thinks the table of contents looks better when it's not in bold text, so she modified the TOC styles so they weren't bold. However, Word still shows the numbers in the TOC (the automatic numbers pulled from the headings, not the page numbers) in bold. Linda wonders how she can modify the TOC styles so that the numbers and the text are both not bold.

It is important to keep in mind that the problem may not necessarily be with the TOC styles. The problem could be with the headings in the document. When a TOC is generated, any explicit formatting in the headings is carried over to the TOC, as explicit formatting. Thus, if you have a heading for which the style is 14-point regular text, and someone selects the heading and changes the formatting (making it bold, changing the point size, etc.), then the explicit formatting is carried over to the TOC entry, overriding whatever the TOC style says should be used.

One way to test if this is the problem is to select a heading in your document (the entire paragraph, including the paragraph mark at the end of the paragraph) and press Ctrl+Space Bar then Ctrl+Q. The first shortcut returns the paragraph to the underlying character formatting as defined in the style and the second shortcut returns the paragraph to the underlying paragraph formatting defined in the style. If, after pressing these two shortcut keys, the heading looks different than it did before, then there was explicit formatting applied that would carry over and affect any TOC that relies on that heading. Your best bet at this point is to repeat this process with all the headings and then make any changes to the heading styles to reflect how you want the headings to really appear.

Because Word transfers explicit formatting from the headings to the TOC entries, this brings up something else you can do, if you'd like. You should be able to remove any explicit formatting from the TOC itself by selecting the entire TOC and pressing Ctrl+Space Bar and Ctrl+Q. This works because, again, the explicit formatting (which was transferred by Word) is removed and the underlying TOC styles show through. The only problem with this approach is that you will need to redo it every time the TOC is regenerated, as the explicit formatting is retransferred every time the TOC is created.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10254) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: TOC Heading Numbers Always Show in Bold.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is three less than 9?

2021-01-07 13:27:09

Tom Cooper

Hi Allen,

There is a much easier way to fix this issue - I found that I can highlight the troublesome headings in the document, hit the clear formatting button, reapply the the heading style and the problem is fixed when I update the TOC.

Regards,
Tom


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