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Creating an Inline Heading

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Creating an Inline Heading.

Pete notes that APA style defines a level-three heading as being indented in italic on the same line as the first sentence in the paragraph. ("APA style" means the style guide devised and published by the American Psychological Association. You can find more information at http://www.apastyle.org.) Pete's question is how to define an inline heading style that will appear properly in the Table of Contents without including the rest of the paragraph in the TOC.

There are two common ways of approaching this problem. First, you can simply create your level-three heading and body text as you normally would, each in their own paragraph. Then, select the paragraph mark at the end of the heading (you may need to configure Word to display paragraph marks) and format the paragraph mark as hidden text. As long as your copy of Word is not configured to print hidden text, your heading will appear inline with your body text, and the TOC will appear just as you expect.

The second option is to use what is called a "style separator." This feature was added beginning with Word 2002. It basically allows a selection of text to have a paragraph style applied to it. The easiest way to use this type of formatting is to type your heading text followed by your body text, in a single paragraph. Make sure the entire paragraph is formatted as body text, then select just the text that will comprise the heading. Apply the level-three heading style to this selected text. The selected text now has your heading formatting and the rest of the paragraph is formatted as body text.

When you format in this manner, Word generates the proper TOC, as you would expect. What it doesn't do well is apply any paragraph features that are different than the paragraph features in your body text format. So, for instance, if your level-three heading is formatted to include a half-inch indent from the left margin, that indent will not be applied to the selected text. Instead, the paragraph attributes of the body text format will be used.

Word also includes an internal command called InsertStyleSeparator, which can be added to a toolbar. This tool allows you to "separate" text so that two paragraph styles are applied to what appears to be a single paragraph. In reality this tool does nothing more than what has already been described. The command is described in this Knowledge Base article:


Basically you format your heading using your level-three heading style, use the InsertStyleSeparator command to indicate you want to start a new style, type the rest of the paragraph, and apply the body text style to the rest of the paragraph. The inserted "style separator" keeps the application of the body text style from affecting the application of the heading style before the separator.

For a great write-up of different ways you can set up inline headings, see this page by Word MVP Suzanne Barnhill:


WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3855) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Creating an Inline Heading.

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Comments for this tip:

Scott    21 Oct 2016, 23:28
Thank you for the help. I have spent many hours trying to format or modify my Level 3 TOC headings. You have given me a gift. God Bless
PETER    19 Feb 2016, 01:50
Mark C.    16 Oct 2015, 11:32
Thank you for writing and publishing this article. I had downloaded an APA template that was formatted with the style separator, but I could not figure out how they had done it. This explains it very clearly and I can format it myself now that I understand the feature. Thanks again! Mark.

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