Menu
Cart 0

How to create a document outline in Microsoft Word

Posted by Roger Hyttinen on

When working with longer documents, especially those with several chapters or sections, it is often helpful to first create your chapter or section headings and then add in the detail information later on. This enables you to lay out the structure of your document so you can see the overall organization of the manuscript, allowing you to make structure changes before it gets too large.

Document outline in Word

To create a document outline, you will need to first format it using one of the Heading Styles such as Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. so that when you switch to Outline View, only the headings and subheadings are displayed. Using Word’s built-in Heading Styles also allow you to quickly create a Table of Contents, which we will discuss in the next section.

When in Outline View, enter your headings. Word automatically formats headings as a Heading 1 style. To create a subheading, press Tab or click the demote button on the contextual Outlining Ribbon. This indents a main heading and converts it to a subheading. Likewise, you can turn a subheading into a main heading by clicking the promote button on the contextual Outlining Ribbon or pressing the Shift + Tab keys. You can easily move headings up or down by clicking the Move Up or Move Down buttons on the Outlining Ribbon.

Outlining Ribbon in Word

After you’ve created your outline, you will notice plus symbols next to the main headings and minus symbols next to the subheadings. Double-clicking the plus symbol hides the subheadings. To redisplay the subheadings, double-click the heading plus symbol again.

Once you have the structure of your document laid out, the next step is entering your text. To do this, it might easier to switch to Normal or Page Layout view.

Quick Guide:  How To Create an Outline

  1. Click the View tab on the Ribbon.
  2. Click the Outline button on the Views group.

  3. Type your heading and press the Enter key.

  4. To create a subheading, press Tab or click the Demote button on the Outline Tools group of the contextual Outlining Ribbon.
  5. To revert to a higher level heading, press the Shift + Tab keys Or Click the Promote button on the Outline Tools group of the contextual Outlining Ribbon.
  6. To move a heading or subheading to a different location, click the Move Up or Move Down buttons on the Outlining Ribbon until the heading is in the desired location.
  7. When finished, click the Close Outline View button on the Ribbon.

Looking for more Word tips? Our Word 2016: Up To Speed guide is now available in printable PDF format from this site. The Up To Speed series is designed to help you get productive quickly with your software. Check back as new titles will be added regularly. Also available as an ebook from Amazon, iTunes Books and Kobo.


Share this post



← Older Post Newer Post →


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.