Jan 07 2012

How to Make Chapters for a Novel Manuscript in Microsoft Word 2010 (Windows/PC or Mac)

Published by at 12:20 am under Microsoft Word Tips

Instead of having a separate Word document for each of your chapters, I would highly recommend instead writing your manuscript as a single Word document with chapter breaks.  Otherwise, changing even the smallest details will be a nightmare.  (For example, if you want to change a character’s name, you’d probably have to Find-Replace every chapter).  That’s a huge waste of time, particularly since most novel manuscripts undergo hundreds of changes. If your chapters are in a single document, you just have to Ctrl+F once.


Fortunately, Word makes it extremely easy to break your novel manuscript into easily navigable chapters.  Once you’ve gotten the hang of how to add chapters in Word, this should take fewer than 10 seconds a chapter.


How to Break Your Novel Manuscript Into Chapters: Windows/PC


Step 1: Open your navigation pane if it isn’t already.  It’s in the View tab.
How to Open Navigation Pane in MS Word 2010


Step 2: Apply the style “Header 1” to your chapter titles.  It’s in the Home tab.  Just highlight your chapter title and click on Heading 1 (or Heading 2, if you prefer).
How to Set a Style in MS Word 2010


Optional Step 3: When you’re ready to add a new chapter, I recommend doing a page break so that each chapter will always start on its own page.  To insert a page break, you can either use the short cut Ctrl + Enter or click the Page Break button in the Insert tab.
Inserting a Page Break in MS Word 2010

Step 4: Apply Steps 2-3 to each of your chapter titles.  After doing so, your navigation pane is a table of contents with a button that you can click to skip immediately to that chapter.  It’s much easier than having a bajillion documents open at once or figuring out which folder you’ve saved Chapter 10 in or which version of Chapter 10 is the most recent.

Creating Chapters in Microsoft Word 2010


How to Make a Header Read Differently For Each Chapter 


Step 1: Make sure you have separate sections for each chapter. If you don’t already, read through the first part of this article.

Step 2: Begin editing the header. (Double-click the header or right-click and select “Edit Header”).

Step 3: Go into the Insert tab, click Quick Parts, and then click Field. 

Step 4: Under “Field names,” select “StyleRef.” Under “Style name,” select whichever style you used for your chapter titles.

How to Break Your Novel Manuscript Into Chapters: Mac

Once you’ve set the style for your chapter titles, you can access your table of contents by opening the Document Map Pane.

46 responses so far

46 Responses to “How to Make Chapters for a Novel Manuscript in Microsoft Word 2010 (Windows/PC or Mac)”

  1. thepopeofbeerson 07 Jan 2012 at 10:56 am

    Ooo! Never knew you could do this. Thanks!

  2. Mr.Ulmoson 07 Jan 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Are comic book editors particularly interested in stories which might have potential for many offshoot stories?

  3. B. McKenzieon 07 Jan 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I can only speak for one person, Mr. Ulmos, but my feeling is “only if THIS script is good enough to stand on its own merits.” If you have some other story in mind that is more compelling, I would recommend submitting that rather than submitting a story that is less interesting but might conceivably be followed by an interesting story. Alternately, you can rewrite the first script until it is good enough to be published.

    (PS: Novelists, I would make the same recommendation for you, too).

  4. Mynaon 08 Jan 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I use this for my chapters and it is incredibly easy. : D Keeps everything nice and simple, and you can just jump to different chapters whenever you need to, I love it.

  5. Mynaon 08 Jan 2012 at 2:06 pm

    And those chapter titles made me lol. xD

  6. Crystalon 08 Jan 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Aw, man! I only have 2007.

    …Is there a way that I can update?

  7. B. McKenzieon 08 Jan 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Well, you could buy a copy of Office 2010 for around $120 (assuming you’re a student).

  8. Silvercaton 08 Jan 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Crystal, an alternative would be to bookmark the start of each chapter. I’m not sure exactly how to do it in Word (I use OpenOffice), but it’s available.

  9. Bruceon 12 Jan 2012 at 10:41 am

    You can do the same thing in Word 2003/2007. It’s called the “Document Map” in these versions.

  10. Clifford Frymanon 12 Jan 2012 at 1:13 pm

    This can be done using 2007 as well. Instead of opening the Navigation Pane under the View Tab, choose Document Map. Works like a charm.

    Thanks for the tip and making me see if it could be done with an earlier version. Now I can stay organized so much easier than I ever have before.

  11. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 15 Jan 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Ahh, that way is so much better than the way I do it. I’ll have to change it this afternoon. I have a fairly strange way of defining chapters. I type: “START OF ONE (line break)”, then start typing. At the end of the chapter, I write “END OF ONE”, (line break) START OF TWO”, and so on. I don’t have chapter names yet.

  12. B. McKenzieon 15 Jan 2012 at 7:17 pm

    You could also use START OF ONE as the section title, instead of CHAPTER ONE: [CHAPTER TITLE]. As long as you understand your organizational system, it’s good enough for me. 🙂

  13. Brett W.on 18 Jan 2012 at 9:53 pm

    The Document Map for Word 2007 is crap. I cant get it to work. I highlight the chapter titles, but alas, they don’t show up on the map.

  14. Bretton 18 Jan 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Ha. It’s been so long since I’ve visited, I forgot I don’t use my last initial next to my name here.

  15. Norma Vaughn Danzeyon 21 Jul 2012 at 6:43 am

    This has been incredibly helpful! Just wish I had this information when writing my fist two books. You would never believe what I went through trying to create a table of contents. My books have lots of chapters, and I must have changed my table of contents ten times or more before I got it right. Thanks for making my life easier!

  16. Karey Brownon 07 Aug 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Working on 2nd book. Have purchased a few ‘writing programs’ only to discover they don’t automatically ‘update’ backups/changes to an online storage that I use–and require one to be a computer genius in order to do so.
    Nice thing ’bout those programs is the navigation pane/tree to the left enabling super author *insert eye roll here* to jump from chapter to chapter, various scenes, etc.

    After a couple of hours searching, screaming, wading through Microsoft Help, I stumbled across your How To Make Chapters…
    My new hero! *swoons*

  17. maiaon 30 Aug 2012 at 11:37 am

    i’ve been using the navigation pane to create chapter headings and move among chapters easily and have a couple of questions about what i seem to be doing wrong…

    1. there’s an up-aimed arrow in the center of a bar above my chapter 1 bar that i don’t necessarily want there… can i get rid of it?

    2. some of my chapter heading bars in the pane have a little arrow to the left and the chapter under that is indented, as if it’s a sub-heading… [i hit ‘page break’ before every one of them, but only some are ‘indented’: 1; 3; 5; 6… 2 & 4 are full size and have arrow at left]…how do i get rid of that arrow and have all chapters showing on a ‘full’ bar?

    3. how do i keep the new chapters from appearing that way?

  18. B. McKenzieon 30 Aug 2012 at 11:54 am

    Hello, Maia. Could you email the manuscript (or at least the affected chapters of the manuscript) to me at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com? I’d like to look at the formatting. Thanks.

  19. Franceson 20 Sep 2012 at 9:14 am

    Trying to get my head around word 2010 so that I can write my book. I have spent hours ploughing through impossible advice from microsoft then found this wonderful site. Thank-you so much – so easy. I dont suppose you could advise on getting a header title for each page that mirrors the name of the chapter it is on?

  20. B. McKenzieon 20 Sep 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Here, Frances.

  21. Jackion 24 Sep 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Thank you so much for the VERY understandable, plain English instructions on this! I’m hoping you can help me with a problem I am about to pull my hair out over! I am trying to get page numbers (in my footer) to be on ALL pages (even the first page of each Chapter). But I do NOT want the “header” to appear on the first page of each Chapter because it looks ridiculous to have:

    Chapter 1 (header)



    I have each chapter as a separate “Section”. I have set “Different First Page” in my headers/footers. If I add a page number on the first page, it automatically pulls the header back in and it’s driving me nuts!!!

    Please help!! I have a time crunch on this project and it is ridiculous that I have spent 2 days straight just trying to get this “should be easy” formatting to work!!

  22. B. McKenzieon 24 Sep 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Hello, Jacki. If you have 5-10 minutes, open up the header on the first page of your Chapter 1, click the Page Layout menu button, and then click the arrow under Page Setup.

    Do this on the first page of every section/chapter. It will take about 30 seconds per chapter. Please let me know if you have any questions!

  23. Farryon 08 Oct 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks, very much appreciated..

  24. Aon 27 Oct 2012 at 9:32 am

    Wow this is awesome. This will be very helpful when I write my Nanowrimo novel. Thanks!

  25. Claudiaon 05 Dec 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I’m not getting it. How do i take each separate chapter and merge it into one document?

  26. B. McKenzieon 06 Dec 2012 at 12:27 am

    Claudia, if you currently have a separate document for each chapter, I would recommend copy-pasting them into a single document and then organizing that document into chapters as described above.

  27. Crisis-boyon 08 Apr 2013 at 8:53 am

    Formatting is draining my super powers.I require a different header on every page,i.e.Crisis-boy1,Crisis-boy2 etc.especially when it comes to chapters starting exactly 3.5 inches from top of page.I can’t separate header from chapter heading.Cursor always jumps past 3.5 mark.Can’t get round this on word 2010.I am familiar with typewriters,this is killing me!

  28. B. McKenzieon 08 Apr 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Crisis-Boy, I’m having trouble visualizing what you’re asking for, but maybe I can break this into easier-to-solve issues.

    1) You want a different header on each page (e.g. Crisis Boy 1, Crisis Boy 2, etc). Go into the Insert tab and then click Page Number to get the page-number effect you’re looking for.

    2) It sounds like you want the pages which start new chapters (ONLY the pages which start new chapters) to have a 3.5 inch margin from the top. I’d recommend going onto those pages, going into the Page Layout tab, clicking Margins, and then clicking Custom Margins, setting your top margin as 3.5 inches, and then choosing the setting Apply to: This point onwards. Then go to the next page and do the same thing on each of the next pages, but setting it back to a normal setting from this point onwards. Once you’ve gotten the hang of this, it should take less than 30 seconds per chapter. Let me know if there are any issues.

  29. Crisis-boyon 09 Apr 2013 at 3:33 am

    Whoooo!Hooooo!Thanks Superhero Nation.My problem is solved,Crisis-boy will now spread the word about your site.Back to fighting tiny crises all over London.USA!USA!

  30. Crisis-boyon 12 Apr 2013 at 9:20 am

    Whoooo!Hooooo!OH!Your previous help worked—–BUT!—–I now have headings on all pages declaring Crisis-boy1 on every header instead of Page1-Crisis-boy1,Page2-Crisis-boy2 etc.Can I stop Crisis-boy1 appearing on every page in every header?My super powers are waning again.

  31. B. McKenzieon 12 Apr 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Click on the Design tab, then click on the other things highlighted in the following screenshot:

    Now repeat Step 1 again and type your title next to the page number. You should have a different page number displaying on each page:

  32. Crisis-boyon 13 Apr 2013 at 9:27 am

    Crisis-boy is taking a break from aiding society but will try your suggestion soon.Over and out!

  33. Crisis-boyon 15 Apr 2013 at 4:15 am

    If you’ve got a writing problem,then maybe you should contact the Superhero Nation team!Even Crisis-boy needs help fighting manuscript formatting gobbledegook occasionally.They rush to a flummoxed writers aid at a touch of a keyboard.Thanks Nation of heroes,for ensuring that the world continues to be a literate haven.
    Crisis-boy logging off!

  34. ricky thompsonon 19 Aug 2013 at 12:35 pm

    how to arrange chapters other than alphabetically

  35. B. McKenzieon 20 Aug 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Ricky, could you clarify? The chapters above are arranged in numerical order (e.g. Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3…), not alphabetically. Could you describe what you’re trying to do? Thanks.

  36. GreenWithAwesomeon 21 Aug 2013 at 5:40 am

    “Instead of having a separate Word document for each of your chapters, I would highly recommend instead writing your manuscript as a single Word document with chapter breaks.” Oops. Better go fix that quickly, hahah.

    Thanks very much for the advice! I’ve never seen that navigation trick so I will definitely be using it now!

  37. ejpoetaon 11 Jun 2014 at 3:21 am

    Wow! I made a songbook for my girl scout troop and struggled with it until I found out about chapters. I finally got it to where I could manage, but if I had had this tutorial, it would have saved me a lot of aggravation. What an easy to understand way of explaining it. Thank you SOOOO much!

  38. B. McKenzieon 11 Jun 2014 at 6:55 pm

    You’re welcome, ejpoeta. I hope it was helpful, and good luck with the GS troop.

  39. Sylaron 28 Jun 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Any idea how to convert these instructions to Microsoft Word on a Mac?

  40. B. McKenzieon 28 Jun 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Possibly, Sylar. I’ll look into it.

  41. B. McKenzieon 28 Jun 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Got it! It’s faster than on Windows, actually.

    1) Set your chapter titles to the style Heading 1.

    2) Access your table of contents by opening up your Document Map Pane.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

  42. Sue Con 12 Feb 2015 at 3:22 am

    I’m so glad I found your fantastic website with so much editing info. I am writing a novel with a friend and have already written over 70,000 words. Was having terrible problems with new chapter headings bouncing about up and down the page even when I had saved them numerous times. So discovering the page break and document map was such a revelation!
    I applied this to my document and got a map to one side however, I noticed I had duplicated the chapter numbers after constant editing and somehow sorting them out I can no longer see some of them on the map. Also some dialogue etc. is also on the map and other bits to one side.
    I have right clicked and tried to see if I could edit the map as it appears or get everything running vertically. Also if I could add back the missing chapter numbers but to avail.
    Have you any ideas or suggestions please?
    I am running Word 2007

  43. AjofEarthon 12 Feb 2015 at 10:33 am

    B.Mac, is this meant strictly for general writer-ease, or is this how manuscripts should be formatted for submissions?

    I ask because while I do write in Word and use a header (author name, title, pg #) and also use page breaks for new chapters, I’ve simply been writing as a single, on-going word document and have never created a navigation chapter list as outlined above. I never even knew before that I ought to. I simply scroll down to where I left off, takes 5 seconds, and then keep writing.


  44. B. McKenzieon 15 Feb 2015 at 10:23 am

    Just for the ease of the writer. Publishers don’t care either way. Many books don’t even have chapters.

    (When you submit, you probably will need a single file containing the entire manuscript, though. When publishers are ready to read the full work, it is much easier to handle a single file than 10-100 files each covering a single chapter). In addition, if you make any novel-wide changes, e.g. changing a character’s name, it is MUCH easier to implement these if you have a single file.

  45. B. McKenzieon 15 Feb 2015 at 10:45 am

    “Also some dialogue etc. is also on the map and other bits to one side.” I would double-check how you’ve formatted the styles. For example, do all of the chapter headings have the same style (e.g. header 1 or header 2) and have you made sure that all of the body copy of the chapters do NOT have the header style? If you’d like, you can email me a copy of the manuscript (or just the affected chapters) at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com and I can take a look at what’s happening with the document map.

  46. QLon 29 Dec 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Wow. This saved my day!
    I was typing a novel, and was having each chapter as a separate document. It quickly became a huge headache.
    This is extremely helpful!!!

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply