How to Add a Table of Contents to PDF File

Portable Document Format, or PDF for short, is designed to share documents with fixed formatting. It’s the most common and widely-used format at the moment, from client invoices to customer records, or even business memos.

People love the PDF file format not only for its small size and the flexible integration with any system but also for the password protection function. You can also search for a word or phrase in the file via the “CTRL+F” keyboard combination.

Wait! You might be surprised to discover that it’s possible to create a table of contents in your PDF files. Readers will have a quick overview of what the PDF file covers before going through it.

Not all users are masters at PDF’s functionalities. Exporting a PDF file from a Microsoft document seems easy. However, creating a TOC for the file might be a tricky task. That’s why in this article, we’ll show you 2 different ways on how to add a table of contents to your PDF. Before going into details, let’s discuss the roles of a TOC in PDFs.

Importance of Table of Contents

The table of contents, or content page, tells readers the PDF content will cover, such as how many sections are included, how long the file is, what topics are contained in each section, which section starts on which page, and more.

Different from the index, the content page is found in the front matter of a PDF ebook. Although the TOC is displayed on one page only, it’s quite significant.

  • Make a good impression
    The content page gives readers a brief overview of the PDF ebook, which makes it easier for them to digest. People judge your PDF book by the TOC. They will keep reading the file or skip it depending on how impressive the sections’ titles are.
  • Manage the material more effectively
    The TOC is also a guide for your own writing plan. You can break the content into chapters. As a result, instead of writing or modifying the content sequentially, it’s possible for you to jump back or forward any section which you intend to work on.
  • Easier to discuss
    When you want to discuss the content of a specific section, you can easily select that section from the TOC and reach it without scrolling the file tiredly or worrying that you would miss any related information.

How to Create a TOC in a PDF via Word Document

PDF doesn’t offer a feature allowing you to add a TOC to the first page of the file. Some recommend converting PDF into a Microsoft Word document and edit it there.

Step 1: Export PDF to a Microsoft Word doc

  1. Open your PDF file via the Soda PDF tool
  2. Head to the Convert tab and select the PDF to Word option
  3. Click Convert to continue

Step 2: Create a table of contents in the Word doc

  1. Scroll to the section you’d to add the TOC in
  2. Click the References tab and choose Table of Contents
  3. Pick Automatic Table

Step 3: Detect the Word document headlines with the TOC

  1. Back to the Home
  2. Highlight the title and apply Heading 1
  3. Add subtopics by using the heading 2 or 3. Remember that heading 2 and 3 titles will appear beneath the higher level heading, the H1, for instance.

In some cases, your TOC won’t be updated immediately. To have it updated, you need to click on the Table of Contents then click Update entire table.


Step 4: Once the TOC is created, your last step should be converting it back to PDF format.

  1. Back to the File menu and choose Print
  2. Click the Soda PDF printer and print. A new PDF file with a TOC is created in a new tab now. You can save the file or use it online, depending on your demand.

Add a Table of Contents Using InDesign Tool

Another way to create a content page for a PDF file comes from the InDesign tool. While supporting producing PDFs for Flipsnack, it also assists you in creating a TOC.

  1. Create a new paragraph style by clicking on one of the titles, then go to Paragraph styles and click New to all chapter titles
  2. Head to Layout and click Table of contents
  3. Add a name
  4. Check the Create PDF bookmarks option
  5. Place the TOC at the desired position

Use Watermark WordPress Files Plugin to Add a TOC to PDF File

This method works best when your content’s ready on your WordPress site. All you need to do is to export the page or blog post to PDF format and see the automatically created TOC on the first page of the file. To do so, it’s required the Watermark WordPress Files plugin. The following guide will show you how to achieve that.

  1. Download the plugin Watermark WordPress Files
  2. Head to Add New under Plugins in your WordPress admin dashboard
  3. Click Upload Plugin and choose the downloaded file
  4. Install and activate the plugin. Once activated, the plugin will be added right to your WordPress admin navigation menu
  5. Move to the Export tab and enable the option Table of Contents

  6. Select the types of content you would like to convert in the Export Multiple Pages section. It can be random pages and posts or a whole category. You need to pick the pages and posts to export in the underneath box.
  7. Click Export. This is how your converted PDF file looks.

Converting posts and pages to PDFs benefits you in many ways. You can combine several blog posts as an ebook with many chapters to send to subscribers or users. This helps you improve the relationship with the readers and increase the chance to get them back to your site.

On top of that, you don’t have to export or import your documents into different file formats which takes time and effort. Once installing the plugin, creating the PDF file containing the TOC is done with a few simple clicks.

The following video will help you visualize the steps above better:

Impress PDF Readers with a Table of Contents

TOC plays a key role in organizing your content and impressing the readers. They can have a quick summary of what your ebook talks about.

Now you’ve known 3 ways to add the table of contents to your PDF. Converting the PDF to a Microsoft Word document allows you to edit and create the content page with the Headings feature. The InDesign tool, meanwhile, supports the TOC function by creating a new paragraph applied for titles.

The most simple method is performed by the Watermark WordPress Files plugin. If you have blog posts ready on your WordPress site, just install the plugin and let it handle the hassle.

You can also explore how to export a WordPress post to a Word document here.