Quick Tip: How to exclude headings from the Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

Quick Tip: How to exclude headings from the Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

In my motivation for starting my blog at jeffreykusters.nl, I explained one of the purposes of my blog was to simply write down stuff I was going to forget for sure. Call it a journal or a sort of external memory. This is my first blog post in that category which I have dubbed Tips & Tricks and it focuses on cleaning up the Table of Contents in Microsoft Word.

Cleaning up the Table of Contents (TOC) in Microsoft Word

As a consultant and architect, I consider myself a pretty heavy Microsoft Word user. In our line of work, we often have to create monster Word documents with numerous headings, styles, tables, figures, captions, footnotes, references, table of contents, and so on.

Today, I came across a very effective tip when dealing with Word. Often, when you open a document created by someone else, or if you copy over portions of other documents, your table of contents can get cluttered with headings you don’t necessarily want in your TOC. Maybe you have some preliminary chapters, such as a management summary, that shouldn’t be in the TOC or the heading styles are basically just a mess.

Pro tip: Having consistency in your heading styles is crucial when working in large documents. Messy heading styles also make navigating in your document via the Navigation Pane (which I personally use very, very often!) more difficult.

In the following, simple example the sections “document properties”, “document history” and “index” should not be included in the TOC:


I already created a copy of my “Heading 1” style in the past which should have excluded it from the TOC but somehow the style was modified along the way. Instead of modifying the properties of the style, I stumbled across a very easy way to do this:

  1.  Highlight the text
  2. Go to ‘References’
  3. Click on the ‘Add Text’ pull-down menu
  4. Check Do Not Show in Table of Contents


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