If your company uses Google Docs to create your documentation, PR material, or any other type of text-based documents, you know the cloud-based tool is well-versed in the needs of business. Or you may be a student writing lengthy papers and dissertations. Or you may be an author writing a book. Regardless of your purpose, there may come a time when you need a Table of Contents (ToC) added to your document. This isn't something you want to have to create manually—as creating the links to sections of the document can be a real pain. Fortunately, Google has built this feature into their Docs platform, so that it's incredibly easy to add a Table of Contents into your document.
I want to walk you through the process of doing just that. The platform or browser doesn't matter and you do not have to install any third-party extensions.
First a bit of formatting
Before you even attempt to add a ToC to your Google document, you must first have the document properly formatted. Worry not, you won't have to go through the entire document. Instead, what you must do is go back and reformat each of your chapter or section titles with the Heading 1 format. To do this, locate your first title, highlight it, and then select Heading 1 from the Styles drop-down. You must do this with every title that you want included with the ToC. Otherwise, it'll be left out.
Once you have the formatting complete, you're ready to add the ToC.
Adding the ToC
It is important that you place your cursor where you want the ToC located. You might want it at the beginning of the document or the end. Click on the exact spot you want the ToC to live. Once you've taken care of that, click Insert | Table of Contents. You will then be presented with two different options ( Figure A):
- Page numbers
- Blue links
What you choose will depend upon your audience. If you want to make it absolutely clear each ToC entry is a clickable link, select with blue links. If you need a more standard ToC, click with page numbers. The only caveat to the page numbers option is that the entries aren't obviously clickable. For demonstration purposes, I'll select With page numbers.
Once you've clicked an option, Google Docs will automatically generate the ToC and place it where you selected ( Figure B).
At this point, you can format your ToC to perfectly fit the look and feel of your document (changing font, font size, font color, etc).
Let's say, for example, you've added or removed a chapter to your document. Do you have to then remove the ToC and have Google Docs generate a new version? Nope. Make your additions or subtractions, and do the following:
- Locate your ToC.
- Click anywhere within the ToC.
- When the reload icon appears (Figure C), click it.
When you click the reload icon, the ToC will automatically update and reflect any changes you've made.
ToC made easy
And that's all there is to creating a Table of Contents for a Google document. For any book, article, paper, promotional material, etc. that requires a ToC, Google has you covered in incredibly easy fashion.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.