Chicago Table of Contents: How to Create One


Table of contents refers to the list of the contents in a paper that is usually found in the preliminary pages of a paper. Plus, it usually gives the descriptions of the chapter and sections in the paper as well as their commencing page number. Just like most writing styles, Chicago style does not come with strict guidelines for creating a table of contents. Having said that, you might need to include a table of content when your paper is lengthy, or you are being instructed to include one. (Also learn about table of contents in APA and MLA format)

Most papers do not require a table of contents simply because tables of contents are only required when a paper has several chapters and sections. Creating a table of contents for your Chicago style is relatively easy as long as you follow the easy rules provided by the Turabian manual.

Typically, a table of content despite being a preliminary page is one of the last things you should add to your paper. The reason is that the purpose of the table of contents is to map out the contents of the paper, and you can only do that when you are done with the paper.

pointing hand Basic Guidelines for Chicago Table of Contents

The table of contents page should follow the formatting guidelines of the entire Chicago paper. That is

  • Font: Any readable font, preferably Times New Roman.
  • Font size: 12pts
  • Margin: one-inch page margin on all sides
  • Spacing: double spacing
  • Page number: top right corner or bottom center
  • The chapter and section headings should be written in title case

pointing hand Turabian Guidelines for Creating a Table of Contents for a Chicago Paper

Here is how to set up a table of contents page for a Chicago-style paper following the guidelines in Turabian’s manual

  • The page of the table of content should be titled “Contents.” This title should be written in bold and centered at the top of the page.
  • There should be two lines between the title and the first item listed.
  • Leave a blank line after each item listed.
  • The table of contents should be listed in the order of preliminary pages, parts, chapters, other units of the text, and then the supplementary pages.
  • Between the list for the preliminary pages, chapters, and supplementary pages, leave two blank lines.
  • Give the page number for only the first page of the listed items.
  • The chapter titles should appear flushed to the left while their page numbers should be flushed to the right.

pointing hand Creating a Chicago Table of Contents Automatically with Microsoft Word

Microsoft word can be used to create a table of content for your Chicago paper automatically. You just need to follow the following steps.

  • Customize the heading styles

Microsoft words come with built-in heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, and Heading 3). All you need to do is to customize the heading styles according to the format of the different headings levels for Chicago format. To customize the heading styles right, click on the heading style in the Home tab and click on modify.

  • Apply the heading style

You can do this in two major ways. It is either you apply the headings as you go, or you apply the heading styles when you are done with the paper. You apply the heading style by highlighting the chapter or section titles and then click on the appropriate heading style.

  • Insert the table of contents

When you are done applying the heading style, it is time to insert the table of contents. You can do this by navigating to the reference tab, and then you click on “table of contents.” There would be a drop-down menu where you will get to either choose the automatic tables available, or you can opt to customize your table.

If you want to choose the automatic table of content, you should go for “automatic table 1” as it comes with “contents” as the title of the page.

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