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I am getting parts of the title page and other text which appears in the document before the TOC - actually showing up within the TOC

How can I prevent this behaviour?

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The TOC will include all Heading-styled elements regardless of where they are in the document. You can disable and enable the showing of different heading levels (e.g. you can turn off Heading 4 in the TOC) but you cannot remove individual heading lines.

My initial thoughts are to create a new style based upon the Heading styles you are using, and assign this new style to the headings above the TOC. You may even find some pre-fab heading styles included in Word's default template.

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Rus' idea of having an alternative style is the best way if update your Table of Contents often.

However, what I usually do is: after updating the TOC for the final time, I select the headings I don't want in there then simply delete them.

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You need to switch to the outline view (the button is in the lower right corner) and use the outlining toolbar to set the proper levels on your paragraphs. Beware that it will impact formatting on those paragraphs so you'll need to check everything in the print view (the button to the left of outline view).

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Find those items and change the paragraph style from Heading 1 to something else. You can retain the formatting as long as the style is not one that is included in the TOC.

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