How To Exclude Headings From The Table Of Contents In Microsoft Word

How To Exclude Headings From The Table Of Contents In Microsoft Word

The official Word blog discusses how to fix a tricky formatting problem in Word -- using a pre-defined heading style in a document but not have every instance show up in an automatically-generated table of contents. (By default, Word includes all instances that match existing heading styles in any contents table.) The solution on offer -- copy the existing style and give it a new name while removing its status as a heading -- is fairly neat, though it does have one disadvantage: if you modify the original heading style, those changes won't show up automatically in the cloned style.


  • You can get around the problem of modifying the original style by doing this:

    1. Create your original heading style. For arguments sake lets call it ‘Heading 1’.

    2. Create your new header style and call it ‘Heading 1 – not indexed’

    3. Modify it’s properties setting ‘Style based on’ to ‘Heading 1’.

    4. Create your table of contents and under ‘Options’ remove the entry for ‘Heading 1 – not indexed.

    Any items formatted with the new style will not be indexed, but if you modify the style for ‘Heading 1’ it will be applied to both styles.

    • There is a MUCH better & much easier way to Exclude an item from the TOC, Table of Contents. It’s hard to find in Microsft Word but it’s there.

      1. Simply highlight the item you don’t want.
      2. Hit References>Add Text > “Do Not Show In Table Of Contents”.


  • The other thing you lose with this “two style” approach is the ability to reference the current heading text in the header or footer. I use this to have the current document chapter name in the footer.

  • This doesn’t work very well if you have page numbering. The numbering does not recognize the previous numbers if you switch styles – it will start over from 1. Note to Microsoft: This should be a right-click option on the heading styles. Other word processors use separate field codes for the TOC – you mark each entry that you want in the TOC. The entry isn’t there by default just because it is a particular style. This is a much better system IMO. To summarize: TOC SHOULD BE SEPARATE FROM STYLES. I can’t stress that enough. This would eliminate all the unwanted garbage that ends up in the TOC all the time.

  • @Helen: you can set the TOC in Word to use either styles or specifically marked entries. (Edit field – TOC – Options – “Build table of contents from”: uncheck ‘styles’). IMO styles is a good way to do it because it automatically updates the text used for the contents when that text is changed in the document.

    The problem with this two-style solution is that it doesn’t allow automatic numbering of paragraphs, nor the use of the style for the header/footer. Is it the only solution?

  • To include or exclude certain headers from the TOC:

    • Right click on the TOC in question \ click Edit Field
    • On the left hand side scroll to and select “TOC” (you may type “TOC” quickly to skip down)
    • click Table of Contents…\click Options…
    • To add or remove styles to be included in the table of contents:
    o Remove: delete the number in the field indicating the level at which the style is to appear in the TOC, this will deselect the header from showing in the TOC at all
    o Add: enter the level number in the field to indicate at what level that style should be shown in the TOC

    • But this will remove all headings at that level from the TOC, if say you just want to remove one of your heading level 3 from the TOC, but leave all the others there, then the twave method above is the one to use

    • WORD 2016
      The issue I had was that items in lists (bullet points) were being included in the TOC when I did not want them to.

      The fix that worked for me. I hope it does for you as well.


      1/ right-click an item in the TOC
      2/ select Edit Field…
      3/ select TOC from the list of Field Names:
      4/ click the Table of Contents… button
      5/ click the Options… button
      6/ scroll down the list of Styles to Heading 3
      7/ clear the value (TOC level) – it was 3 for me
      8/ scroll further down the list to List Paragraph
      9/ once again clear the value
      10/ click OK
      11/ click OK
      12/ click OK when asked to Replace the table of contents

  • Word is too complex and full of bugs – Microsoft needs to take lessons from WordPerfect and learn how to write code so that an average user like me can work with it

  • Thank you! Great that this answer was so simple. Sad that it’s 2018 and I still have to search for it.
    (C’mon Microsoft, can’t you do better? I shouldn’t need to look this up.)

  • I was translating a document and the easy way to translate the TOC is to translate the document first and then just update the TOC. When I did it I got some titles in the TOC that weren’t in the original. Odd words that had arbitrarily been given a title style. I looked here and started looking at styles then I thought, why don’t I just try deleting them from the TOC just as you would with any other text you wanted to get rid of. Result: perfect, took 30 seconds.

  • 1 Rick click on the table of contents and select ‘Edit field’
    2 Click on the ‘Table of Contents…’ button
    3 Click on ‘Options’ in the bottom right hand corner
    4 Uncheck the ‘Styles’ box in the top right hand of the dialog box
    5 Back in the ‘Table of Contents’ dialog box where you clicked Options, where it says ‘Show levels:’ change this to remove or include header styles in the table of contents.

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