Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Creating Effective Reference Tables
Creating Effective Reference Tables
Headings are the real secret to creating a helpful table of contents (TOC). If you’ve written
clear, understandable headings, your readers will know where to turn for the information
they want.
The next consideration is the way in which you format these headings—if you don’t use
styles Word 2010 recognizes, it won’t collect the headings the way you want. To create the
TOC you want, keep these guidelines in mind.
Use Word’s built-in heading styles—or create your own custom styles based on
them. When you’re working in Outline view or working with master documents,
use Word’s built-in heading styles—Heading 1, Heading 2, and Heading 3.
Additionally, you are probably familiar with the various outline levels—1 through 9—that you
can assign in Outline view. When you use Word to create a table of contents, it uses
the built-in heading styles by default. You can teach Word how to use the outline
levels or your own custom styles, but it takes a few more steps.
Make your headings clear and concise. The best headings are short (between
four and ten words) and communicate the subject clearly. The headings for your
document will vary, of course, depending on content, but if your objective is to help
readers find what they want quickly, you’ll be closer to meeting your goal if you keep
your headings short, sweet, and smart.
Avoid confusing headings. If the tone of your document is conversationally hip,
you might be tempted to throw in little humorous sayings or quips as headings
throughout your text. As a wise editor once asked, “Would readers understand what
this heading means if they opened the book at this page?” If helping readers
understand your message is your main goal, avoid phrases that might confuse them.
You can include literally any text in your document as part of the TOC by selecting entries
manually. For more information on manual table of contents entries, see the section titled
“Adding TOC Entries Manually,” on page 710.
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