03 May in  How-to tutorials

How to Create a Table of Contents in a PDF


PDFs are extremely flexible and can easily become large hubs of key information. Anyone reading your PDF can use the search feature to get around, but only if they know what they are looking for. To help you out, we’ll be explaining to you how to create a table of contents in a PDF, which is a practical way to give your files greater accessibility.


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A table of contents serves two primary functions:

  1. It’s a clear way to show every topic your PDF covers at a quick glance.
  2. It makes document navigation a breeze by clearly showing the page on which each subject is explained.


Learning how to create a table of contents in a PDF will increase the likelihood your that your document will be well received by the people who care most about what you have created. You can easily create one for your documents with an editor like Soda PDF and a word processor like Microsoft Word.


There are a couple of ways to approach a table of contents.



How to Create an Interactive Table of Contents for your PDF (Bookmark Feature)

A bookmark is Soda PDF’s feature that re-creates the experience of a table of contents. We’ve already posted a blog article detailing how to create a bookmark so we’ll be brief here. Soda PDF provides readers with an interactive experience where clicking on a topic brings you directly to the correct page.


This feature does not embed the table of contents into your document. This means the person reviewing the PDF will need a reader to take advantage of this feature. Unless this file is printed to paper, this method is ideal.




There’s still the matter of a real table of contents. You’ll find all the steps below:



1. Convert Your PDF into a Microsoft Word file

A standard table of contents will appear at the beginning of your document outlining the subject matter covered. Since Soda PDF doesn’t have a tool that can insert a table of contents, you’ll also need to use Microsoft Word. Soda PDF provides you with a simple conversion tool that makes it easy to go back and forth between Word and PDF.

  1. Open the Convert Tab.
  2. Choose PDF to Word.




Soda PDF default settings will convert the entire file. Click here if you want more information on the settings available during file conversion.

  1. Click Convert to continue.





2. How to Create a Table of Contents in a PDF 


Your file will convert and will open in Microsoft Word once completed. It’s time to create the table of contents.

  1. Go to the part of the document where you want to insert your table of contents.
  2. Open the References
  3. Click Table of Contents.
  4. Choose an Automatic Table.




Now you’ll mark your text so the table of contents can detect it.

  1. Open the Home
  2. Highlight the first title of your document.
  3. Choose Heading 1.
    1. You can right click on Heading 1 and choose Modify to update its appearance.




The table of contents inserts into your document.




You can add subtopics by using the Heading 2 or Heading 3 options. Each Heading number indicates their placement in the tier of information. Heading 2 titles will always appear as a subtopic to the last marked Heading 1. Heading 3 will always appear beneath the last marked Heading 2.

  1. Highlight your text and continue adding the appropriate heading options.




Once you have started marking your text, you may notice that the table of contents does not update right away. If that is the case:

  1. Click on your table of contents.
  2. Choose Update Table.
  3. Select Update Entire Table.
  4. Click OK.




The content for your table now appears!




Click here for full instructions on creating a table of contents.



3. Create a New PDF from your Updated Document

Now it’s time to turn your file back into a PDF. You can convert your file inside Microsoft Word. This is called the “Virtual Printer” method.

Click here to see all PDF creation options.

  1. Click on File.
  2. Choose Print.
  3. Select Soda PDF as your printer.
  4. Click Print.




  1. Enter the name for your new PDF
  2. Choose its file location.
    1. When you create this new PDF you will not replace the original PDF.
  3. Click Save.




You’re free to edit your newly created PDF!




Download Soda PDF and show others how to create a table of contents in a PDF.



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