MAKE an Index in Microsoft Word  ▷ Step by Step Guide 2020

Indexes help us a lot in those moments in which time is scarce and obtaining information from a document must be accurate. These are nothing more than a structure that helps us organize different sections of a document, whether they are sectors, references, among other things, to access it quickly and easily.

It is very simple when the document has information of little length, but when we talk about textbooks, theses or even works that gather a large amount of information, finding an exact section can become a tedious task. In addition, the annex of an index to our document gives a touch of professionalism and elegance that is quite important when it comes to being read, making the information within it more trusted.

In this tutorial you will learn to do it by your own means automatically or manually an index or table of contents of quality and with a professional aspect, taking into account the factors that affect it. We will guide you step by step, so that it is easy for you to continue with the tutorial and do not miss anything.

Steps to make an index in Word automatically

In this case, we will show you how make an Index that is automatically written and created in your document as you create the titles. However, there are some specific factors that must be followed to perform this method:

  • Have the activated version of Microsoft Word as in the free version the option is not available.
  • The indicated format should be used without any variation since this is the one that will cause the index to be generated as we update it, using the appropriate options for our titles and subtitles that will form the table of contents and the sub-indices.
  • It is recommended to leave a blank sheet at the beginning of the document in which our index will be generated. In order to save time and avoid possible errors or damage to the writing.

Once you know all this, it is time to get down to business and indicate the steps to follow to create your own table of contents automatically.

  • The first step is highlight the titles and subtitles that will be placed in our index and found throughout the entire document. For this we will add a style among the default styles of Microsoft Word, thus ensuring and indicating to the program which will be the indexes and sub-indexes to generate.


  • Once the degree and style annex process is finished, go to the blank page where the index will go and place the cursor on it. At the top of the text document, go to the “References”. On the left you will find an option called, “Table of Contents”, access this option.

References Table of contents

  • Select the second option that says “Automatic table of contents 2” and shows a brief example of it. And so, as easy as a couple of clicks, your table of contents has been created with all the indexes and sub-indexes that you have previously marked.

We have already created the index. However, if we want to edit or add more indexes and sub-indexes, all we have to do is select and apply the styles to the texts that we want to add to the index. We go to the table of contents (Index), and we select everything, we right click on it and a drop-down menu will appear.

We look for the option “Update the whole table”, We mark it and accept it, and thus the table of contents will be updated with the new titles that we add.

Update Word Index

If, on the other hand, we want to remove, we only have to, instead of placing the styles, remove them by selecting the default in the appropriate options bar. After that, do exactly the same, and thus the unwanted title will be removed.

How to create a table of contents in Microsoft Word manually?

To create a manual table of contents we will use the rule function of our Microsoft Word. Follow the steps properly to avoid making mistakes.

  • We will place ourselves in the superior rule of measurements. If by chance it does not appear in your Word window, it is easy to fix it. Go to the lashes above the one that puts “View”. Center in section “To show” you will see several options including “Rule”, check the box and they will appear on the screen.
  • Well, once located in the tool Rule, we are about to move the cursor in it. We will create a tab stop, this point will be in which the page numbers belonging to our document sections will be, to guide you, the reference is 14 centimeters and its surroundings, doing it with the right click.
  • Once located there, we double right click on the same point to bring up the Tabs menu.


  • Once these options have been chosen, we proceed to create the table of contents manually. Write us placing the name of our chapter or entry on the configured page and after that we press the TAB key. Immediately the padding characters will appear, and we put the number of pages it is on.

Manual index

Repeat this step as many times as necessary, pressing the “Enter” key at the end to jump to the next line where we will introduce the entry and we will create our index manually.

How to subscript in Microsoft Word and format headings?

We already know how to create the Indexes or tables of contents, in the two possible ways, manual and automatic. Now, however, it’s time to shore up a couple things; format the titles with the correct styles and create subscripts in our table of contents, both manually and automatically.

As we mentioned earlier, to create a table of contents, it is required to assign styles to various titles and subtitles that will become the indexes and sub-indexes of our table. Now we will explain to you step by step how these formats are created and added, to generate the sub indexes automatically.

To start, we have our default table that we have generated with each of the titles that we already create. To add the certain title style, we must do the following:

Update Index

  • First we select the fragment of text that we are going to apply the format, we go to the tab “Start” in the upper right where it puts styles, and we click on the double arrows pointing down to display all the formats. We look for the one that puts “Title 1”, for the Indices, Y “Title 2” for the sub-indices. We click on the style we want and it is applied correctly.
  • We have already applied the proper style, it is time to make our new index and sub-index appear in the table of contents that we created, for this, we go to the table of contents that we have there and click inside its content .
  • Clicking on it will create a frame and at the top of it it will say “Update Table”, we click there and a pop-up window will appear, with the update options.
  • We choose the option that says “Update the whole table”, And we accept, then it will load the contents of our table with the indices and subscripts that we have added.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, we will answer you as soon as possible, and it will also be of great help to more members of the community. Thank you! 😉

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