A table of contents is created to give an outline and display the structure of a lengthy document. It is common to add a table of contents in PDF, so users can navigate easily.

Whatever operating system you are using, you can find free tools or commercial apps to create table of contents in a PDF. In this guide, we’ll focus on 4 of the most popular: Adobe Acrobat, Apple Preview, Mac PDFExpert, and online sodapdf.

  1. To create table of contents in PDF using Acrobat (Mac & Windows)
  2. To create table of contents without Acrobat on Mac
  3. To create table of contents in Mac Preview
  4. To create table of contents online (Mac & Windows)

To create table of contents in PDF with links using Acrobat

Available for macOS, Windows, iOS and Android, Acrobat is suitable for those that want to dive into PDF files whenever they need, from desktop or mobile device.

It has a set of powerful editing tools that flexibly control PDF texts, images as well as links or fields, and there is no other tool does better than Acrobat in PDF editing. You can create and convert PDF, edit and optimize, protect and redact, manage and compress, flatten and compare, review and sign, fill and create form, scan and OCR, etc.

You will use the bookmark feature to create table of contents in your PDF with links, check the tutorial as follows:

  1. Grab the free 7-day trial of Acrobat, install and fire up the app on your machine.
  2. Open the PDF.create pdf table contents adobe 1
  3. In the navigation panel, open Page Thumbnails, select the first page and right click Insert Pages>A Blank Page>Before to insert a table of contents page.create pdf table contents adobe 2
  4. Head to Edit PDF>Add Text, enter the table of contents, or just copy from other document.create pdf table contents adobe 3
  5. In the navigation panel, click the 2nd Bookmark icon, add a bookmark, give it a name as per your table of contents, right click the bookmark and set the current page as destination.create pdf table contents adobe 4
  6. Add all bookmarks and make sure the bookmarks have the correct destination.create pdf table contents adobe 5
  7. Go back to the table of contents page, select an outline item and right click Create Link.create pdf table contents adobe 6
  8. Choose the link appearance and action.create pdf table contents adobe 7
  9. Click on the bookmark for each outline item, and Set link.create pdf table contents adobe 8
  10. Repeat this to link outline items to the pages that you want to navigate to when clicking on the outline.create pdf table contents adobe 9
  11. Hit Save.

To create table of contents without Acrobat on Mac

There are also other options available that may suite you better than Acrobat, if subscribing Acrobat is a big decision for you and it is not that much to your liking. For Windows users, Foxit is worth a try, but here in our guide, we want to look at PDF Expert, a beautiful and robust PDF editor for Mac users.

PDF Expert is one of the fastest PDF tools in recent memory, and it has an innovative design, OCR support and ways to export a PDF file. Its simplicity has surprised users again and again, you just need to follow your instincts to edit a PDF file in it. It has all important features of a PDF app: reading, editing, annotating, organizing, including creation of table of contents.

You will use the outline feature to create table of contents in your PDF, check the tutorial as follows:

  1. Grab a free copy of PDF Expert, install and fire up the app on your Mac.
  2. Open the PDF.
  3. Select the words that you want to take as one of your table of contents, right click and select Add Outline Item.create pdf table contents pdfexpert 1
  4. Select other words and all of them as outline items.
  5. Hit Save.

To create table of contents in Mac Preview from bookmarks

Preview has a strong set of annotation tools and other features like search, optimize or export as. It is a solid PDF markup tool, however, it doesn’t have editing feature and it simply cannot become the most choice for most PDF needs on a Mac. Luckily, we can use it to create table of contents from bookmarks as follows:

  1. Open PDF in Preview app on your Mac.create pdf table contents preview 1
  2. Open the page thumbnails, select one page and head to Add Bookmark. Bookmark all pages that you want to use as table of contents.create pdf table contents preview 2
  3. Then show the Bookmarks, it will show a table of contents in the left pane.create pdf table contents preview 3
  4. Head to File>Save.

To create table of contents in PDF with links online

As we will discuss, there are also online ways to create table of contents in a PDF. If you don’ know where to start, here in the following part, we are going to share the most popular and easiest way to create PDF contents table online free.

One of the main reasons we recommend sodapdf is that it is a fully-featured PDF editor. Its proactive approach to edit PDF files should have givens users much confidence in their service.

But the free account cannot export your file, you have to pay to download the edited PDF to your machine.

  1. Navigate to online.sodapdf.com, upload your PDF.
  2. Head to Page>Inert Pages, from blank or a file.create pdf table contents online 1
  3. Get the table of contents ready in the first page of your file.create pdf table contents online 2
  4. Select one outline item, right click to Create Link.create pdf table contents online 3
  5. Head to Go to a page action, click Add.create pdf table contents online 4
  6. Set the page destination for each outline item.create pdf table contents online 5
  7. Repeat this until you add all page destinations for all outline items.
  8. Save and pay to download the PDF.