Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Problems with TOC Styles.

Problems with TOC Styles

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 17, 2015)


Word allows you to quickly and easily create a table of contents, based upon the headings in your document. Exactly how you do this has been covered in other issues of WordTips, but suffice it to say that you can generate a TOC based upon any headings that are formatted using Word's built-in heading styles—Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. (You can specify differently named styles to be used when generating the TOC, but that is beyond the scope of this tip.)

When the TOC is generated, the styles applied to the TOC entries are TOC 1, TOC 2, etc. There is typically a direct correspondence between the TOC style name and the heading style name. Thus, TOC 1 is used to format the TOC entry generated from a Heading 1 paragraph. Likewise, TOC 2 is used to format a TOC entry generated from a Heading 2 paragraph, and so on.

The bottom line is that if you want to change the way your TOC looks, all you need to do is define the attributes that make up the TOC styles (TOC 1, TOC 2, etc.). There is one very, very large caveat to this general statement, however: If you have applied explicit formatting to your headings, then your TOC will not look as you expect it to.

For instance, let's say that you define the TOC 1 style so it is 14-point Arial in black type. However, you may have used explicit formatting on a Heading 1 paragraph so that it is red, 16-point type. When you generate your TOC, the explicit formatting you applied affects what appears in your actual TOC. The result is that your TOC entry shows up as red, 16-point text, even though the TOC 1 style doesn't call for that. You can change the TOC styles after generating the TOC, but when you later regenerate, the TOC will again appear messed up.

The only solution to this problem is to make sure that none of your headings use explicit formatting; they should rely only on styles. Select each heading in your document and press Ctrl+Q (to return the text to the default paragraph settings for the style) and Ctrl+Space Bar (to return the text to the default font settings for the style). If, after doing this, you don't like the way your headings look, make the changes in the heading styles, not in the headings themselves. Then, when you later generate a TOC, you will get what you want—a TOC that matches the specifications in the TOC styles.

A similar problem often occurs in the course of developing the headings in a document. Let's say that you add a few headings, and you put them in all caps. (After all, you decided up front that you want your headings in all caps.) Then, you discover that you can set the format of the heading styles to be all caps. Now, you can type as you normally would, but Word displays the headings as all caps—just as you want.

When it comes time to create your TOC, Word pulls the text from the headings, and you discover that your TOC entries look terrible. Some Toc Entries Look Like This, OTHERS LIKE THIS, and still others like this. While the headings all appear in upper case within the body of the document, the text within those headings is inconsistent and the inconsistency is apparent when you generate the TOC.

The only way around this problem is to go back and re-enter your headings using the proper case. Normally, this will be what is called Title Case, which means that major words within the heading are capitalized, but other words are not. When the headings are consistently entered, what you see when you generate a TOC will not be a surprise.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11108) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Problems with TOC Styles.

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 7 - 2?

2017-08-11 09:24:14

Russell Stanley

You can toggle capitalization by inserting the cursor within a single word or by highlighting a group of words, e.g., a TOC entry, and typing Shift+F3.

2017-08-10 10:31:21


Hi, do you by any chance know if it is possible to have more TOCs in one document using the same styles BUT with different formatting? I would like to have one general TOC for the entire document AND then TOCs for each section, but the section TOCs should not have the same formatting as the main TOC - e.g. they should not include dots, page numbers, etc. When I try to edit the format of a specific TOC, it always changes formatting in all TOCs in the entire document... is it possible to have them formatted differently?

2017-03-17 16:34:08


So it's not possible to have the headings in the body of the document in ALL CAPS, but have them appear in the TOC in Title Case?

2017-02-15 16:06:37


While using the TOC function in Word 2010 there is a paragraph symbol inside of a box. What does that mean and how do you apply it to a TOC in Word?

2017-02-13 17:48:27

Joe Johnston

I was searching around for a fix the font/style of a simple list and came across this. Very helpful, thanks!

2017-02-06 10:18:14

Alexander Vonk

This article was very helpful to me. I had a Word 2016 document with a TOC that had two sets of numbers for level 2. I looked at TOC2, as suggested in the article above, and I was able to switch of the numbered list that caused the second set of numbers to appear. It looks very good now.

2017-01-09 06:30:38


Thank you for these tips!

2016-12-02 07:14:42


Hi I am looking for some help in TOC with hyperlink.

I want TOC text to be Times New Roman 12 but it changes to Verdana after updating TOC if I Keep hyperlinks.


2016-12-01 14:04:34

Deb Thornton

Thank you so much for saving me from wasting anymore time!

2016-10-26 01:24:33

Yolanda Schuurmans

Hi All,

I had my TOC Style's underlining even though the style the TOC level was based on was not underlined. In some cases there were two underlines.

I went into the TOC Style (I.e. TOC 1 (Level 1 of the contents) and on the bottom left of the instruction window/box it has 'Format' in a dropdown menu. Click on the dropdown menu and go into 'Border', select 'None' on the top right of the instruction menu. It was basically making a border on the TOC Style despite the Style that TOC was based on. When you go back to 'Format' you will see that the 'Double Line' listed in the Style summary is now gone! :-)

Lots of fiddling to figure it out! I think any issues with Style's can be resolved through one of those drop down menu options.

2016-10-04 10:58:37

Marcia Wilcox

I opened a Word document (report) and renamed it so I could edit it for a different report. I removed some of the styles that werent used in the report and added one style. Now, when i regenerate my table of contents, it is formatted slightly different than the original report. The original report had equally spaced entries for the table of contents. My new report has a gap between Heading 1 and Heading 2 entries. I can't make the gap go away. How do I make this table of contents the same as my previous report?

2016-09-28 08:40:10


very very helpful
thank you for your text
more than 2 days I search in internet and other sources and also try and error to assign my own format to each level in TOC. but only level one changed.
In your text I found Why and I could solve the Problem.

2016-08-18 06:12:54



i am having trouble with formatting for TOC

i used a styles for different headings and then when i came to the TOC it didnt quite look right with one chapter not appearing as a different numbered section in the TOC

any thoughts how to resolve this ?


2016-08-12 10:09:14


Is it possible to have two different TOC1 styles in a table of contents? For example I would like some of my titles using TOC1 style to be in bold whilst others using TOC1 style not to be in bold. I've tried applying TOC8 to the unbold headings but when I update the contents the TOC8 headings go back to being in bold using TOC1.

2016-08-11 11:24:17

Kathy Johnson

The problem I am having with the TOC is that I work in an FDA environment and they want the headings numbered. If I number the headings, the TOC pulls the numbers into itself along with the numbers in the TOC, and also adds a number to the words "Table of Content" i.e. 1.0 Table of Content. When I have to have sequential numbering throughout a document and a TOC, this is horribly frustrating.

2016-08-09 09:11:45


Thank you so much

2016-07-13 08:56:11

Lois Penn

I have been able to format the TOC and it shows the correct header and sub-headers in the document. My question is, can the sub-headers in the document be automated? For example, the headers are numbered 1-20 in my document - set up automatically. However, I had to manually number the sub-headers; i.e 5.1, 5.2, 5.3... and then 6.1,6.2; 7.1, 7.2 and so on. When trying to automate this, the numbers kept starting at 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 under each sub-heading. Is there a way to automate the sub-heading sections maintaining the main heading numbering?

2016-04-18 15:42:13


In Word Mac 2016, in the table of contents, the right indent setting also controls where the page number is placed, instead of the right-tab setting controlling placement of the page number. This causes the text of longer TOC entries to go all the way to the right margin, along with the page number. This looks bad. I want the text to wrap before the page number. This is a change from prior versions, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how to fix it. Any ideas?

2016-03-17 15:56:08

Arthur Lange

When I auto generate a TOC in Word 2013, the TOC generates correctly for each heading except heading 1. All of the TOC entries have tab leads except for the Heading 1 TOC entries; the heading 1 entries do appear in the TOC but with no tab leads. In other words, all heading 1 TOC entries have no tab leads. The heading 2 TOC entries all have tab leads. I've tried many things but nothing has worked.

2016-02-26 11:12:04


I have created a Word document that contains a table of contents. One of my users in Switzerland, who recently switched from Word 2010 to 2013, discovered that any time he tries to update the table of contents, it is deleted and a window comes up saying to apply heading styles to headers or change the outline level.
This same document does not present me with this issue. I'm wondering if it's a regional/environmental problem. Thanks for the help.

2016-02-22 12:08:42


Thank you! I have been trying to work out why this didn't work, and it has solved the problem.

2016-01-11 04:20:08


I don´t understand very well the instruction for keeping my own format/customizing my text in the document itself for headings

2015-10-30 05:35:00

Ken Endacott

The underline probably comes from the TOC style.
1. Right click in the document and select styles.
2. In the list of styles right click style TOC 1
3. Select Modify
4. Click Format then Font
5. In Underline style, select (none)
6. OK then OK

Repeat for styles TOC2, TOC 3 if necessary

2015-10-29 13:29:44


I don't like how the table of contents looks with the underline underneath it. I'm publishing my first book and wonder if the line (annoyingly) will still be there. How can I fix this to where I can just make my own table of contents and possibly link them to the headings (chapters.) HELP.

2015-10-21 08:35:00



If the page numbers are showing up correctly on each page of the printout, then they should be fine in the TOC. (If you make changes to the page number format, you'll need to update the field that is responsible for the TOC in order to see the changes there.)

I'm unclear as to what you mean by you "tried to re-arrange the TOC." If you edit the TOC, then when you go to print or at other times that the TOC field is updated, all your re-arranging will go away. The TOC is dynamic; it is regenerated whenever you update the TOC field or when the field is updated automatically by Word.


2015-10-21 08:31:56


Barton: Sounds like you have the offending paragraph formatted using the Heading 3 style. (The TOC styles relate directly to the Heading styles.)

To fix, change the formatting on the offending paragraph so it doesn't use Heading 3 and then re-generate the TOC.


2015-10-20 22:17:42


Hi there Allen - I am having a crazy problem here with a specific document.

I am trying to get a table of contents for a small dissertation and having trouble getting the page numbers for the TOC itself and Abstract coming through in lowercase Roman numerals, and the main document in Arabic numerals.

The main part of the document is fine, it is the "preamble" section that is problematic. Initially the "preamble" section was also appearing in Arabic numerals, even though in the header they appear just fine as lower case Roman numerals. I managed to rset the page numbering in the header and now they come out as upper case Roman numerals.

I have tried to re-arrange the TOC a few times but getting nowhere really - any suggestions?

I am in my Office now, and will sign up for your regular tips when back at home later today.

Cheers from "Down under" in Western Australia


2015-10-06 15:19:34

Barton Lewis

I have a TOC using Heading Styles 1-3. For the 3rd level, the entire paragraph of text is included when I generate the ToC. How can I avoid that? Thanks.

2015-05-23 08:58:02


I'm trying to create a table of contents. The Heading 1 is in styles. Headings 2 & 3 have disappeared from the styles menu. How do I get it to appear again? Also, because my headings are underlined, my TOC lines have leader dots and also it has underlined the entire line. I went in and eliminated the line in the font section of headings, but it still appears. How do I eliminate the underline in the Table?

2014-09-06 15:21:19

Wendy Schilling

Formatting in my document changed after applying headings and levels. How do I get my original formatting back

2014-06-25 10:12:13


I have the heading number bolded. Can you tell me why:
- TOC Number Levels 1-3 not bold
- TOC Number Levels 4-9 are bold

Unfortunately, the TOC IS INHERITING the heading number format of bold in levels 4-9 only WHICH IT SHOULD NOT INHERIT. Levels 1-3 are working as designed. All levels were created exactly the same way.

2013-10-09 02:17:58


Hi Allen,
I just found that the CTRL+Q and CTRL+spacebar do not work under windows 7. Any other solutions? Thanks.

2012-01-12 11:59:45


I inserted a necessary text box in my doc ... an automatic toc was in place ... now ... the toc shows each item in my text box in the toc with the page number for it ... I do not want this to be the case ... all I want in the heading for which info in the text box is illustrative and explanatory ... how do I turn off the oode that is taking the action so text box data is not listed? Thanks Dr. J

2011-12-20 08:37:20


Thanks, Allen, for this very useful tip. It can be also be applied to Lists of Appendices: first you prepare a paragraph Style called "Appendix Title" (e.g., 14pt font size, bold, All caps), then, you type your appendix cover pages the normal way (e.g., "Appendix A: List of Participants") and then you select them and apply the "Appendix Title" style, which will make their title "appear" all caps. Finally, when you generate the List of Appendices at the beginning of the document, it will be the way you want it (not all caps and not bold).

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