The table of contents in Word is a field code. Because of this fact, if you manually make changes to your table of contents, or TOC for short, every time Word updates this field - let's say, for example, you print, you save, or you even use print preview, the field automatically updates and you lose all of your modifications. This can be time-consuming and just plain frustrating. So, how do we get the field code to stop overwriting our changes? You probably guessed it: styles.
Word uses built-in styles, named appropriately: TOC styles, to format the TOC. Therefore, modifying the TOC styles will tell Word to keep our formatting and our modifications. Let me show you how this works. Open up the Styles pane, and you can click on the little extend button or use your keyboard shortcut, Alt+Ctrl+ Shift+S. Now, this area is highlighted because it's a field. So you see this gray area around all of this line. That means that's a field code.
So that's why it keeps changing on you. So, if we change this style, it should fix that. You can see that right here, the alignment on this side needs to be indented; it's off here. So, let's indent this. You've got a triangle going down, a triangle going up, and then you've got a little square on the bottom. Grab the square and pull it to 2. We're going to move the right tab, which is kind of stuck over here - you'll see it, and it's barely visible.
It looks like a backwards L, and that's your right tab there. And if you grab it and pull it - we're going to pull it to 6, on your ruler - and drop it, it fixes that problem. Now that looks pretty good, but all we've done right now is modify this one little sentence, and as soon as it's updated, it gets all messed up again. So we don't want that. What we're going to do is we're going to locate TOC 1 in the Styles pane. So find your TOC 1, and we're going to click on the down arrow next to it, and we're going to choose Update TOC 1 to Match Selection, and there you go. That's it.
Now, when we update our table, it will stay in place, and it will keep our formatting because we changed the TOC style. Keep in mind that if we had used multiple levels to create our TOC, for example, we used Headings 1 through 3 in our TOC instead of simply one level, we could continue making modifications to the built-in styles TOC 2, TOC 3, et cetera. Modifying a TOC and getting the same results each time you update the table is simply a matter of modifying your built-in TOC styles.
By doing so, you'll avoid gray hair due to stress, and hair loss from pulling it out in frustration.
- Understanding the five types of Word styles
- Using the Style pane
- Swapping styles with Find and Replace
- Formatting bulleted and numbered lists with styles
- Basing a new style on an existing one
- Modifying styles with the Style Inspector
- Building a table of contents with styles
- Linking styles with multilevel lists
- Copying, deleting, and renaming styles
- Setting document and style defaults