How to Create a Table of Contents in Google Docs


Matthew Burleigh

Creating a table of contents (TOC) in Google Docs can greatly enhance the readability and organization of your document, especially for longer files. To do this, follow these steps: 1. Apply headings to your text; 2. Place the cursor where you want the TOC; 3. Go to “Insert,” then “Table of contents”; 4. Select a style; 5. Update the TOC as you modify the document.

Once you’ve completed the table of contents, navigating through your document becomes significantly easier. Clicking on any item in the TOC will take you directly to that section, saving time and improving the user experience.


A table of contents is crucial for documents that cover multiple topics or sections, such as reports, manuals, or books. Google Docs provides a straightforward way to add a TOC, helping readers to quickly find the information they need. In this article, we will guide you through the process, ensuring that even if you’re not a tech whiz, you’ll be able to create a neat and functional TOC.

Related: How to Center a Table in Google Docs

Step by Step Process

  • Step 1: Apply Headings to Your Text – Start by applying heading styles to the text you want to include in the TOC. Highlight the text, go to the toolbar, and choose a heading style from the styles dropdown menu. Remember, “Heading 1” is usually reserved for main titles, “Heading 2” for subsections, and so on.
  • Step 2: Place the Cursor – Where You Want the TOC Click at the beginning of your document or wherever you want to insert the TOC. This is usually done before the main body of the text starts.
  • Step 3: Insert the Table of Contents – Go to the top menu, click on “Insert,” navigate to “Table of contents,” and then select the style you prefer. Google Docs offers several styles, so pick the one that best fits your document’s theme.
  • Step 4: Update the Table of Contents – As you add more content and headings to your document, you’ll need to update the TOC to reflect these changes. To do this, click on the TOC in your document, and a refresh icon will appear. Click this icon to update.

Why Create a Table of Contents

A TOC not only helps in navigating the document but also gives your readers a clear structure of the content, allowing them to gauge what to expect. It’s a sign of professionalism and attention to detail, making your document appear more organized and well-thought-out.


  • Improved Navigation: Readers can jump to different sections easily, saving time.
  • Professional Appearance: A TOC makes your document look well-structured.
  • Easy to Update: As your document grows, it’s easy to keep the TOC up to date.
  • Enhanced Readability: Readers can quickly scan through the TOC to get an overview of the content.


  • Initial Time Investment: Setting up a TOC takes a bit of time, especially for longer documents.
  • Requires Consistent Formatting: You need to ensure that all headings are formatted correctly for the TOC to work properly.
  • Potential for Clutter: If your document has too many subsections, the TOC can become cluttered.

Additional Information

Remember to consistently use heading styles throughout your document, as this is what Google Docs uses to generate the TOC. Also, consider the length and complexity of your document when choosing a TOC style – a simpler style might be more effective for shorter documents, while a more detailed style could be beneficial for longer, more complex documents.

Summary – Adding a Table of Contents

  1. Apply the appropriate heading styles to the text in your document.
  2. Click where you want to insert the TOC.
  3. Navigate to “Insert” then “Table of contents,” and choose a style.
  4. As you modify your document, remember to update the TOC by clicking the refresh icon that appears when you click on the TOC.


  1. Why do I need to use heading styles for the TOC?
    • Heading styles are used by Google Docs to determine what text to include in the TOC and how to format it.
  2. Can I change the style of the TOC after I’ve inserted it?
    • Yes, you can change the style by clicking on the TOC, then selecting a new style from the “Table of contents” menu.
  3. What do I do if the TOC is not updating?
    • Click on the TOC and then click the refresh icon. If it still doesn’t update, make sure all your headings are formatted correctly.
  4. Can I include subheadings in the TOC?
    • Yes, by using “Heading 3,” “Heading 4,” etc., for your subheadings, they will be included in the TOC.
  5. Is there a limit to how many items can be in the TOC?
    • There is no set limit by Google Docs, but for readability and navigation, it’s best to keep the TOC concise.


A table of contents is an essential tool for navigating longer Google Docs documents. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create a functional and attractive TOC that enhances your document’s usability and professionalism. Remember to update your TOC regularly and use consistent heading styles throughout your document to ensure optimal performance.

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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