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Use Table of Contents Tools for Note-Taking

My students often have difficulty keeping up with their notes. Those who type them on their tablet or computer often save each day’s notes in a separate file. When they need to use the notes to study or do homework, they often can’t remember where they saved them. Using the table of contents feature in a word processor can solve this problem very easily. If this is a problem for your child, show her this blog.

All of your child’s notes for one class can be typed in the same document. The table of contents will make it easy for him to find what he needs. This way, there is only one file for each class, and that is much easier for him to organize and find.

If your child does not type her notes at school, perhaps she could spend some time each evening organizing and typing her notes. That has always been a great study strategy, and now it is even better because of the linked table of contents in the document.

Here is how to set up a table of contents using Google Docs. (Other word processers such as Microsoft Word work in a similar way.)

  • Open a new Google Doc and name it something that makes sense (maybe “Notes for Science Class”).
  • Select “Insert” and then select “Table of Contents.” A box will be inserted where the table of contents will be. When you click inside the box, you will see a tool that allows you to add topics to the table of contents. The table of contents grows with each section of notes you add. I like to keep the table of contents on page one and start my notes on page two.
  • Type a title for your first day of notes. The title should match the topic for the notes. If the lesson is about magnetism, title that section “Magnetism,” highlight it and change the font to “Heading 1.” (There is a drop down menu where you can select “Heading 1.”) Every time the topic changes, use “Heading 1” as the font for the title.
  • Click inside the table of contents box where you inserted it on page one, click the update tool, and a link to your notes on magnetism will be created.
  • Type all your notes on magnetism. When your teacher changes topics, insert a new heading for the topic and add it to your table of contents using the update tool. You can also create subheadings by using “Heading 2” and “Heading 3.”


For those of you who prefer to watch how to do something new, here is a YouTube video that shows two different ways to make a table of contents using Google Docs.

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