Headings that do not show up in the Navigation Pane or in a Table of Contents (or Cross-References / Hyperlinks)

  • It is possible to apply heading styles to text and not have it appear in a Table of Contents or in the Navigation Pane.
  • If it shows up in the Navigation Pane, it will show up in a Table of Contents unless the Table of Contents does not include that heading level.
  • This is because Heading Styles (as well as others are "Linked Styles" and can be applied to something less than a full paragraph. This article is a discussion of how this happens and what it looks like.

Here is a screenshot from a sample document demonstrating this effect.

If you open the sample document, it is helpful to have both the Navigation Pane and Comments displayed.

  • Heading styles 1-3 have been applied six times in the document.
  • Only four of these show up in the Table of Contents and only one shows up in the Navigation Pane.
  • The one that shows up in the Navigation Pane does not even look like a heading style because it has direct formatting to appear as body text!

At the bottom of the Styles Pane, there is a checkbox to disable Linked styles. I usually keep that checked to avoid these problems.

Linked Styles at the Root of this Problem (and a solution for other problems I expect)

The sample document has multiple heading styles within one paragraph. Heading Styles are designed and intended to be paragraph styles. When they are used for an entire paragraph they predictably show up in Tables of Contents and the Navigation Pane. A Linked Style can be applied to selected text. When it is used this way it takes on the Character formatting from the style but not the paragraph attributes. It is these paragraph attributes that are keyed on by the Table of Contents and Navigation Pane.

I know that the designers at Microsoft thought there were good reasons to create Linked Styles. I do not care for them, at all. People who want to copy the formatting of a heading or other paragraph style can do so without needing this.

How to Apply a Heading Style So It Will Not Work in a TOC or on the Navigation Pane

  • Select text in a paragraph and apply the style. It will act as a character style for most purposes. It is that simple.
  • Unless you have non-printing formatting marks turned on to display, you may think you have the entire paragraph selected but Word will think otherwise because you did not select the (hidden) paragraph mark at the end of the paragraph. (This is more likely to happen if you have a space or punctuation before the paragraph mark.)

How to Apply a Heading Style So It Will Work in a TOC and Appear in the Navigation Pane

  • Click in the paragraph without selecting text and apply the style. (or)
  • Disable Linked Styles (command at the bottom of the Styles Pane in Windows versions) otherwise by using vba. (or)
  • Be very careful to select the entire paragraph. (This is not all that easy to do.)

Hyperlinks to Headings

  • If you attempt to insert a Hyperlink to a heading, only those that were applied to the entire paragraph will show up in the dialog.

Cross-References to Headings

  • If you attempt to insert a Cross-Reference to a heading, only those that were applied to the entire paragraph will show up in the dialog.

Notes about the Sample Document

  • Each instance of a Heading Style in the document has an accompanying Comment
  • When the style is applied to the beginning of a paragraph, that part shows up in the TOC but not in the Navigation Pane.
  • If the Comment is in the middle of the text that is in the Heading Style, it will cut off the part in the TOC at that point. This is not true if the style is applied to the entire paragraph. See the second and the fourth paragraphs for examples.
  • I do not know why any of the partial paragraphs appear in the TOC.
  • The same rules for when a Heading will appear in the Navigation Pane apply to the dialog boxes for insertion of Hyperlinks and Cross-References.
  • Because I've seen the problems that come from Direct Formatting, I deliberately formatted the only correctly applied Heading so that it looks like body text. This direct formatting has no effect on the Heading qualities of the paragraph style.

See also: Why use Microsoft Word’s built-in heading styles? by Shauna Kelly

Thanks to Rohn007 for his comments.


Forum Article Info

Last updated June 4, 2020 Views 58 Applies to:

You might want to turn on Show/Hide.


Explain how you put 2 heading styles on the same line/paragraph.  Show/Hide would help with that.


Expand on the comment text for the second example.  Explicitly SAY that placing the comment marker in the middle of heading causes the problem in the TOC.


As a reminder, explicitly say that the comment in example 3 is what is blocking it from the Navigation pane.

"Stay together, by staying apart"
“I have studied many philosophers and many cats.
The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.”
~ Hippolyte Taine

Thank you.

I think I've addressed your concerns. I will be deleting these two comments in a day or two.

Volunteering to "pay forward" to return help I've received in the Microsoft user community.]

Charles Kenyon
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

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