The table of contents is used in many documents able to be produced in the Microsoft Word word-processing program. For example, authors use a table of contents to outline parts and chapters of their books, business analysts use it to outline contents of their manuals, and students use it to outline the contents of their research papers and reports. For students, creating an American Psychological Association style-compliant table of contents in Word takes a few carefully planned steps.


Prepare the headings you wish to appear in your table of contents. Word compiles the table of contents based on the independent styles used for specific headings. To do so, select the heading in your paper you wish to start your table with. Heading can be chapter numbers, part numbers or other options. Click the "Home" tab at the top left of your screen and choose your desired style from the "Styles" options provided. Repeat for each heading or use the format painter to copy the style to each desired heading.

Table of Content Levels

Designate any subsequent levels to be included in the table of contents under each heading. For example, certain chapters may contain subchapters, which are indicated under a different level in the table of contents. To do so, select the appropriate text, navigate to your "References" tab, and select "Add Text" in the "Table of Contents" group. Select the appropriate level for the text. For the previously mentioned example, you’d select level 2. Repeat the steps for each text you wish to appear in the table or use the format painter to copy the changes for each appropriate selection of text.

Creating Table of Contents

Create the table of contents under the "References" tab by selecting the "Table of Contents" option. From the drop-down menu, select the desired style of table or select "Insert Table of Contents" to further personalize your options.

Formatting APA Style in Word

Browse through the styles provided by Word by expanding the "More" button to the left of the "Change styles" button. To ensure your table appears with page numbers instead of links, insert your table by selecting "Insert Table Contents" and uncheck "Use Hyperlinks Instead of Page Numbers.’

Proofread to Meet APA Style Standards

Proof the table of contents to make sure it complies with basic APA style standards. For example, the text should be in 10- or 12-point size, the margins should be 1 inch, and all lines should be double-spaced.

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