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Formatting Your Dissertation (or Thesis): Table of Contents

Create the table of contents

  1. Put your cursor where you want to add the table of contents.

  2. Go to References > Table of Contents. and choose an automatic style.

    Create a table of contents

  3. If you make changes to your document that affect the table of contents, update the table of contents by right-clicking the table of contents and choosing Update Field.

If you have missing entries

  1. For each heading that you want in the table of contents, select the heading text.

  2. Go to Home > Styles, and then choose Heading 1.

    Add a heading
  3. Update your table of contents.

To update your table of contents manually, see Update a table of contents.

Update table of content

Update a table of contents

Word for Microsoft 365 Word for Microsoft 365 for Mac Word for the web Word 2021 

  1. Go to References > Update Table.

    Update Table of Contents

  2. Select one of the following:

    • Update page numbers only    This only updates the pages that the headings are on, and ignores any changes to the heading text.

    • Update entire table    This will reflect any updates to the heading text, as well as any page changes.

  3. Select OK.

Additional Resources

For a hands-on guide that steps you through the process of creating a table of contents, download our Table of Contents tutorial. Or, in desktop Word, go to File New, and search for table of contents.


Word cannot update tables that were prepared manually rather than automatically from headers. You must manually enter your changes into the table of contents.