Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Note: This is Part 1 in a 4 Part series this week on Tables of Content.

In legal briefs, particularly appellate briefs, we often have to include a table of contents. Microsoft Word has a built in table of contents function that, if used right, can be a huge time saver. It will also be more accurate and easier to update than manually inserting a table of contents. However, it is not the most intuitive feature to learn. This week, we're going to dig into the Table of Contents function.

In this first, let's look at creating a table of contents without using styles as it has been my experience that a lot of people don't use styles. Additionally, if you are tasked with adding a table of contents to another person's document, it might be overly difficult to use styles. 

As you are typing your brief, when you come to a point where you want to have a heading in your table of contents, simply type it into the document. Next, give it the formatting you prefer for the body of the document - centered, italic, underlined, etc.

Once that is done, highlight the part of the heading you want to appear in your table of contents. Right click on it and choose "paragraph". Now, go to the outline level drop down box and choose the level heading you want the highlighted text to be. As a guide, set top level headings or headings of the primary sections to "level 1", secondary level headings to "level 2", and so forth. Everything else, the stuff that doesn't belong in the table of contents, should be set to "body text".

Once you have set the outline level for the headings in your document, move the cursor to where you want to insert your table of contents. Click on the references tab and then click on the table of contents. From there, you can choose one of the pre-formatted options or even insert a customized table.

And that's it. Using this method, you can quickly and easily insert a table of contents into your legal document. In the next Part, we will examine how styles can make this even easier.

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