When using an office suite like Microsoft Word to produce a longer document, small business owners have some great features at their disposal to make professional documents. One of the keys to a professional looking document is that it needs to be properly formatted. many professional reports use a format that includes a Table of Contents (TOC) and headings.

Here’s how you can add and modify headings to your document and have Word create a Table of Contents for you.

Assign headings Many users will just bold titles and change the size of each heading to denote different levels of heading i.e., main headings are bold with a 16 point font, subheadings are bold with 14 point font and text is 12 point font. It’s recommended that you do this while writing the report so you can keep track of what’s what in your report.

When you’ve finished the report and have your headings and subheadings in place, it’s time to apply a heading style to them. First highlight your top level headings (not the main title of the report, but the headings for the main sections). On the Home tab, locate Styles and select Heading 1.

For second level headings, or subheadings, highlight and apply Heading 2. Subheadings thereafter follow the same structure. The reason for doing this is that it will help Word create a TOC that’s properly structured and has links that will take a user to the section when clicked.

If the headline styles Word applies don’t appeal to you, you can change it by going to the Styles group, pressing the grey arrow so the drop down menu opens. Right-click on the heading style you’d like to change and select Modify. You can also hit Ctrl-Shift-S. A window will open which allows you to customize the heading. Press Ok and Word will automatically change all headings that have that style. Note: changes made to a heading style will be saved.

Build a Table of Contents Once you’ve assigned styles to headlines and modified them to meet your needs, you can get Word to insert/build a TOC. First select where you’d like it to go, and make a little space - one blank line above and below should be enough. Click References from the menu at the top of the window, and select Table of Contents. Pick the format you’d like and Word will create the TOC for you.

It’s generally a good idea to apply the heading styles and Table of Contents after you’ve finished the document. If you do need to make changes to the document, you’ll need to update the TOC by right-clicking anywhere on it and selecting Update.

A consistently formatted document goes a long way in impressing external investors or parties, in fact, many now expect a readable document. If your company produces sloppily formatted documents that are hard to read, you could risk losing business. If you would like to learn more about Microsoft Word or other Microsoft Office products, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.