How to make and edit a table of contents in Google Docs to easily navigate to sections of a document

typing on Mac
Adding a table of contents to your Google Doc only takes a moment.

  • You can create a table of contents in a Google Doc with a computer, iPhone, or iPad.
  • Google Docs’ table of contents feature gives readers an organized outline of the entire document.
  • Your table of contents’ sections will be automatically generated based on the headings in your Google Doc.
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Google Docs quickly became one of the web’s most accessible, easy-to-use document editing and sharing platforms.

Although Google Docs is a platform beloved for its simplicity, there are sophisticated touches users can integrate into their Google Docs. One of the most useful: a table of contents.

Here’s how you can add a table of contents to a Google Doc, allowing you to organize a lengthy research paper or any other ambitious literary endeavors.

How to create a table of contents in Google Docs

Using a computer

1. Navigate to docs.google.com and open the document that you want to add a table of contents to. Select a document with multiple sections, each set apart by header text.

2. In the top options menu, beneath the title of the document, select “Insert.”

3. Scroll to the bottom to select “Table of contents” and select if you prefer page numbers, which is best for aa document that will be printed, or blue links, ideal for an online-based piece.

Google Docs page with the Table of Contents options highlighted.
You can format the table of contents in two ways.

Your table of contents will appear on the page.

A Google Docs file with a table of contents on the side.
The table of contents will let you move between sections quickly.

Using an iPhone or iPad

1. Open Google Docs and create a new document or open an existing document with multiple sections, each set apart by header text.

2. Tap the ellipsis icon, or three dots, in the top-right corner, and make sure that “Print layout” is enabled.

Google Docs' "Print layout" option.
“Print layout” lets you see what the document will look like on sheets of paper.

3. Tap the edit button – the blue pen icon in the lower right – to open editing options at the top of your iPhone or iPad screen.

5. Tap the “Insert” button, or plus sign icon, and scroll to the bottom of the options menu to select “Table of contents.” The page numbers option suits documents you intend to print, while the blue links option is great for online-only docs.

Google Docs iPhone app with the "Insert" menu opened, and the "Table of contents" option highlighted.
Select “Table of contents,” the last option.

Your table of contents will appear at the top of the page.

A table of contents in the Google Docs iPhone app.
The table of contents’ options will depend on your document’s headings.

How to format a Google Doc to make a table of contents appear

If you try to insert a table of contents and nothing appears, that means you likely need to reformat your document using headers. Then, your table of contents will automatically populate using the text of your headers. Here’s how to do it on desktop and mobile.

Using a web browser

1. Highlight the text you want to add as a table of contents section.

2. From the styles menu, included by default in the main toolbar, the default style will be “Normal text.” Select one of the numeric “Heading” options to add the text as a table of contents section.

The Headings menu on the Google Docs website.
Selecting any heading option will add the highlighted text to the table of contents.

Using an iPad or iPhone

1. Select the text that you want to become the name of your future table of contents section.

2. Tap the blue pen icon in the bottom-right corner to begin editing, then select the underlined “A” icon from the top menu.

3. Under text options, change the “Style” to “Heading,” followed by a number between one and six, depending on how you want the sections and subsections structured.

The Google Docs iPhone app's Text menu.
While here, you can also adjust the font type, size, color, and more.

How to edit Google Docs offline on your computer or smartphoneHow to double space in Google Docs on desktop or mobile, or add custom spacingHow to share a Google Doc to collaborate and edit documents with othersHow to make a hanging indent in Google Docs, for works cited pages and other forms

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