Table of contents in iWork Pages

Pages can easily create a table of contents. To properly create a table of contents we need to consistently apply the paragraph style that will be used to create the table of contents. Pages uses paragraph styles to dynamically create the table of contents. The table of contents is automatically updated each time a paragraph style used for the table of contents is applied in the document.

To create a table of contents you should be familiar with using paragraph styles. Paragraph styles are the backbone for creating proper table of contents. If you are not familiar with paragraph styles, please read my lessons on using paragraph styles in Pages.

In this example, we would like to include a table of contents before any of the sections. The table of contents will be on a section page of its own. We will need to have the page thumbnails panel visible. If it’s not visible, click view in the menu and select “Show Page Thumbnails”. To create a section we’ll click on the first page of the first section.




Click on the Document button and then click on the section button.


In the “create a new section” selector, choose to create a section after this section, which is the only option available.


The new section will be created and placed after the current section. We need this section to be the first one in the document. To make this our first section we’ll drag and drop it in front of the first page of the first section.


With the new section at the beginning of the document, we need to make some changes to the section. This section includes the section formatting from the previous section. It has a header and footer. The document is also divided into two columns.


In the section panel we will select the option to hide the headers and footers on the first page.


In the format panel, we need to click on the layout section.


We’ll change the column layout from two to one.


The Heading 1 style is being applied to the first line of this page. We’ll change this to the body paragraph style. We’ll click on the styles selector and choose body style.


Our page is now ready for the table of contents. Click on Insert in the menu and move to the table of contents option.


There are three table of content options. Select the document option. This will use all the pages in the document to construct the table of contents.


Pages will insert a table of contents and find any text that is formatted with the styles to be used in the table of contents. It will then place this text in the table of contents along with the page number where the text can be found.

How does Pages know which styles to use in the table of contents?

When Pages creates the table of contents it looks for the standard styles used in any newly created Pages document. It doesn’t use all of them. It uses the styles that are typically used to designate titles and headings on a page. A list of all the styles is available on the right side of pages in the table of contents styles panel. This panel opens automatically when we create a table of contents. The styles selected are the ones used to create the table of contents.


If we would like to include a paragraph style in the table of contents, all we need to do is place a check mark next to it. Likewise, if we would like to exclude a paragraph style, we can remove the checkmark from the style.


The table of contents is constantly updating itself. In this example we have three pages listed in the table of contents. We can add more pages by applying a style used to create the table of contents in the document. Let’s look at an example.


On this page we’ll apply the Heading 1 style.


The moment we apply the style to the heading the text will update and so will the table of contents.


Here we have the table of contents updated with the new page.

Table of contents are easy to create once you understand how they work with paragraph styles.

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