Table of Contents Google Docs: How to Create and Format


Matthew Burleigh

Creating a table of contents in Google Docs can be a lifesaver for organizing large documents. It’s a simple process that involves using the built-in heading styles and the table of contents feature. After reading this quick overview, you’ll be ready to tackle the task and create a professional-looking document.

Step by Step Tutorial: Creating a Table of Contents in Google Docs

In this section, we’ll go through the steps to create a table of contents in Google Docs. This will help readers easily navigate your document.

Step 1: Apply Heading Styles to Your Document

Use the built-in heading styles to format the titles of your sections.

When you’re writing a document, it’s important to use headings to divide your content into sections. Google Docs has a range of heading styles from ‘Heading 1’ for main titles to ‘Heading 6’ for sub-subsections. To apply these, highlight the text you want to use as a heading, click on the ‘Normal text’ dropdown menu on the toolbar, and select the heading style you want.

Step 2: Place Your Cursor Where You Want the Table of Contents

Click on the spot in your document where you’d like to insert the table of contents.

Before adding a table of contents, decide where it would be most helpful for your readers. The beginning of a document is the standard location. Click at the spot where you want the table of contents to appear to make sure it gets inserted in the right place.

Step 3: Insert the Table of Contents

Go to ‘Insert’, then ‘Table of contents’, and select a style.

Google Docs offers a few different table of contents styles—some with links and some without. Go to the ‘Insert’ menu, choose ‘Table of contents’ and select the style you prefer. The table will automatically populate based on the headings you’ve set up.

After completing these steps, you’ll have a functioning table of contents that links to each section of your document. As you add or remove content, you can update the table of contents by clicking the refresh icon next to it.

Tips for a Better Table of Contents in Google Docs

  • Keep your headings clear and descriptive.
  • Stick to a consistent heading structure throughout your document.
  • Update the table of contents if you make changes to the document.
  • Consider using a linked table of contents for easy navigation.
  • Remember to include page numbers if the document will be printed.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I update the table of contents?

Click the refresh icon next to the table of contents to update it.

When you make changes to the headings in your document, the table of contents won’t automatically update. However, it’s easy to refresh by clicking on the circular arrow icon next to the table of contents. This ensures that it stays accurate and up-to-date.

Can I customize the look of the table of contents?

Yes, you can change the font, size, and color just like regular text.

While Google Docs doesn’t offer extensive customization for the table of contents, you can still modify the basic text attributes. Click on the table and then use the regular text formatting tools in the toolbar to change its appearance.

Will my table of contents work in a PDF?

Yes, if you export your document as a PDF, the links will be retained.

The great thing about Google Docs is that if you create a table of contents with links, these links will be kept even when you download the document as a PDF. This makes it convenient to share readable and navigable digital documents.

What if my document has multiple levels of headings?

The table of contents will include all levels of headings that you’ve applied.

Google Docs will recognize all the heading levels you use and include them in the table of contents. It’s important to use the hierarchy of headings consistently for a well-structured document.

Can I use a table of contents in a Google Docs template?

Yes, the table of contents will be included if you save your document as a template.

If you create a document with a table of contents and then save it as a template, the table of contents will be part of that template. This is useful for documents that have a standard format, like reports or manuals.


  1. Apply heading styles to your document.
  2. Place your cursor where you want the table of contents.
  3. Insert the table of contents.


A table of contents can transform your Google Docs from chaotic to navigable with just a few clicks. It’s all about utilizing those heading styles to mark your sections and then letting Google Docs do the heavy lifting. Remember, a clear and consistent heading structure not only benefits your table of contents but also the overall readability of your document.

As technology continues to evolve, it’s amazing how tools like Google Docs make life easier for writers, students, and professionals. The ability to quickly organize information and allow readers to jump to the section they’re interested in is invaluable.

Consider diving deeper into the features Google Docs offers. From collaboration tools to voice typing, there’s a treasure trove of functionalities awaiting your exploration. And if you’re ever in doubt, refer back to this article for a refresher on creating a table of contents in Google Docs. Whether you’re writing an essay, compiling a report, or putting together a manual, an organized document is a more effective one. Happy writing!

Matthew Burleigh

Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech content online for more than ten years. He enjoys writing about Google Docs in addition to many other applications and devices and has cumulatively covered Google’s word-processing application in hundreds of different articles.

He has been published on dozens of popular websites, and his works have accumulated millions of pageviews.
While focused primarily on tutorials and guides for popular electronics like the iPhone and iPad, as well as common applications like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel, he covers topics across the entire technology spectrum.

You can read his bio here.

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