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Microsoft Word/problem with Table of Contents


hello Suzanne, how've you been?

I use Word 2007 and Windows 7.
When I want to create a Table of Contents (TOC)for a document that is loaded with headings formatted with Heading styles, the TOC is just fine. Whether the headings are labeled with a letter or number, e.g., A. Illinois
         1. Chicago
         B. California
         1. San Francisco
the TOC appears as expected:
         A. Illinois................4
         1. Chicago.............4
         B. California..............6
         1. San Francisco.......6
but when BOTH Heading styles AND the NORMAL style are used, the TOC takes on an unexpected appearance:
         A. .......................Illinois
         1..................... Chicago
         B. ........................California
         1......................San Francisco
With judicious tinkering, using the Backspace and Delete keys, I readily convert this weird result to the conventional TOC format.

By trial and error, I've found that if the Normal style is replaced with the List Paragraph style, the above problem does not occur.
Furthermore, when the headings are used without lettering or numbering the Normal styled heading, the TOC is fine!!
What are your thoughts about this matter? What can be done to make the Normal style behave normally (!!) ?

I look forward to your reply.

Thank you.

I'm not exactly sure what you're describing. If you have numbered headings, they work as expected, but numbered paragraphs in the Normal style do not? Ordinarily paragraphs in the Normal style would not appear in the TOC (nor would List Paragraph), and if you did include Normal (by assigning it an outline level other than Body Text), then all Normal paragraphs would appear, and surely that would not be what you want. In any case, it is not likely the formatting of the headings themselves that is the issue but rather the formatting of the relevant TOC style.

By default, a TOC field uses TOC 1 style for Level 1 headings (such as Title and Heading 1), TOC 2 for Level 2 headings (Subtitle and Heading 2), TOC 3 for Heading 3 and so on. The styles are indented progressively, and each style includes a hanging indent with a corresponding tab stop, and numbered headings generally have a tab between the number and the text. If the tab stop is missing or set incorrectly, then you get the effect you describe. With the insertion point in any TOC entry that is exhibiting the problem, look at the horizontal ruler and see where the hanging indent is set and whether there is a tab stop there. Adjust the indent as required, or add a tab stop if it's missing, and that should correct the problem. Since the TOC styles are set to update automatically, correcting it in one entry will correct it for all other entries at that level. Repeat the process for each TOC level.

If you really are including paragraphs in the Normal style, and if you have numbered them manually instead of using auto numbering, then the problem may be that they don't contain a tab character, though I don't think even that would result in the effect you describe. It seems much more likely that the TOC style is missing a tab stop (or that it is flush left because there is no hanging indent), and so the tab is going to the right-aligned tab stop for page number, and then the automatically generated tab for the page number is going to the left margin of the next line.
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Suzanne S. Barnhill


I've been using Word for Windows since version 2.0 (1992), and the more I learn about it, the more I realize how little I know. But I may know a few things that you don't, and I'll help if I can. I answer many questions every day in Microsoft's peer support forums and as a result have been awarded the MVP (Most Valuable Professional) designation by Microsoft Corporation. You may be able to find the answer to your question at the Word MVPs' FAQ site or at my own Word FAQ site, so please check those first! Please, no questions about VBA (macros), Registry editing, networks, or complex merges, as I have no experience with these aspects of Word, nor do I have any experience with Word for Mac. Please indicate which version of Word you are using; if you are not sure, see "What version of Word do I have?".


I have a master's degree in classics (Latin), which is surprisingly helpful, though I no longer teach. The things I am proudest of: Having raised two children to maturity, both Merit Scholars, both college graduates (one a philosophy major!), one Phi Beta Kappa (from Harvard!); having been made a Paul Harris Fellow by my Rotary club; having been designated a Microsoft MVP.

Rotary Club of Fairhope, Friends of the Fairhope Public Library

B.A. (Latin), Agnes Scott College, 1966; M.A. (Classics), Emory University, 1972.

Awards and Honors
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award every year since 1999; many Rotary honors

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