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: Locking Lines in a TOC.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 21, 2020)
Charles described a situation in which his table of contents was working fine, except he wanted to jump to a heading when he pressed Enter with the insertion point at the beginning of the TOC entry that was hyperlinked.
When you automatically create a TOC in Word, the entries in the TOC are actively linked to the headings referenced by the TOC entry. This happens because Word uses the /h option with the TOC field, by default. If you use the mouse to click on a TOC entry, you are automatically taken to the appropriate heading. (In Word 2002 or later versions you must hold down the Ctrl key as you click on the TOC entry, unless you've turned this capability off.)
The interesting thing is that if you position the insertion point anyplace within a TOC entry and press Enter, Word behaves as if you had used the mouse to activate the link, and you are taken to the appropriate heading. Note that the insertion point must be inside the TOC entry, not just to the left of it. If the insertion point is at the beginning (or even at the very end, to the left of the paragraph mark), then pressing Enter will result in a new paragraph being inserted in the middle of the TOC.
This is apparently the way that Word is designed, and there is no way around this. You cannot "turn off" or modify the behavior of the Enter key within a linked TOC. Nor can you "lock" the lines in a TOC so that Enter doesn't insert new paragraphs if the insertion point is outside the actual TOC entry. The only thing you can do is remember to move the insertion point within the TOC entry—even by one character—before pressing Enter.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1764) 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: Locking Lines in a TOC.
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