Fill out your sparse table of contents in Word with extra entries


by T. L. Thomas and Julie Duncan

Application: Microsoft Word 2002/2003/2007/2016

Operating System: Microsoft Windows


A table of contents, also known as a TOC, is a typical navigation tool in lengthy Word documents. But if the TOC is too minimal, you could be doing a disservice to your reader. Instead of expecting readers to search for the information they really want to read, you can add more TOC entries directly from your document’s body text.

To add value to our TOC so readers know exactly where to go, we’ll:

  • Jump into the essentials of TC field code so you can use it effectively.
  • Learn precisely when to use TC field switches for maximum TOC control.
  • Access the Mark Table Of Contents Entry dialog box to add our custom TOC entries.
  • Try out another method, the Field dialog box, to add more entries.
  • Maintain flexibility by learning how to modify a TC field after the fact.
  • Generate a more robust table of contents that includes all of our new TC fields.

Creating a basic table of contents is adequate for many documents, but sometimes you need your TOC to include a reference to important information that doesn’t use one of your chapter, section, or heading styles. Fortunately, Word offers a special field, the TC field, which lets you add text to a TOC without changing its style.

TOC basics

When you’re compiling a long document, you can make its information easier to locate with a TOC. The process is simple:

  1. Use styles to format your document’s chapter, section, and heading titles.
  2. Use the Table Of Contents feature to automatically generate a table of contents based on the styles you’ve applied.

Word looks for each occurrence of the style(s) you specify and then adds the associated document text to an interactive table of contents.

What you must know about TC fields

Valuable TOCs depend on your ability to correctly use TC fields. The TC field uses the following syntax:

{ TC "text" [switches] }

where text is the entry you want to appear in the table of contents and [switches] are optional commands you can use to control the text’s appearance in the TOC. There are three types of switches you can use with a TC field, as described in Table A.

Table A: TC field switches



When to use


When a document contains more than one table of contents, this switch identifies which TOC the marked entry belongs to. Follow the \fswitch with an identifier (a letter from A to Z) indicating which TOC the entry should be assigned to.

You have more than one TOC in your document


This switch identifies which level the entry should use in the TOC. Follow the \l switch with a number between 1 and 9 indicating which hierarchical level the entry should use. When the switch or its corresponding number is omitted, Level 1 is used by default.

You want to use a level besides the default Level 1 in your TOC hierarchy


This switch prevents the TOC entry from including a page number.

You don’t want a page number for a TOC entry


Unlike most other types of field codes, TC field codes don’t produce visible field results. Instead, you’ll see nothing in their place when you toggle the display from field codes to field results. In addition, Word automatically formats TC fields as hidden text. This behavior prevents them from appearing in print.

Working with hidden text

Since TC fields are automatically formatted as hidden text, you’ll want to enable hidden text display while you’re working on them. You can choose between two methods for enabling hidden text display:

  • Click the Show/Hide ¶ button ShowHide on the Standard toolbar.
  • Choose Tools | Options, and then click on the View tab. Select or clear the Hidden Text check box, and then click OK.

Keep in mind that although it’s helpful to view TC fields and other hidden text while you’re revising your document, you may want to suppress the display of hidden text when your document and its table of contents are complete.

Mark text with a TC field

There are two ways you can add TC fields to a document. The easiest way is to use the Mark Table Of Contents Entry dialog box. However, this method doesn’t provide full control over your TC field’s available switches. For full control, you’ll need to use the Field dialog box or modify the field code after you’ve used the Mark Table Of Contents Entry dialog box to create it. Let’s take a closer look at each method.

Download: To follow along with our example, download the sample Blake.doc file from the URL shown at the beginning of this article.

Method 1: The Mark Table Of Contents Entry dialog box

To add a TC field using the Mark Table Of Contents dialog box, begin by selecting the text you want to add to your table of contents. Or, if you want to use alternate text instead of document text in the TOC reference, position the insertion point where you want the TOC reference to point.

To insert a TC field:

  1. Locate the first paragraph in the Finance Facts section on page 2 of our sample file. We’ll include TOC references to the subject matter of key paragraphs in the Finance Facts section.
  2. Select the text total revenue in the first line.
  3. Press [Alt][Shift]O to display the Mark Table Of Contents Entry dialog box, as shown i[...]
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