Is it possible for InDesign's table of contents to use different character styles from the actual text elements used to build the table of contents?

For instance, I want my table of contents to use formatting that is different from the actual title pages and page names used in my document.

Pic related...obviously the text for the entry names is enormous and should instead look like the page numbers.

enter image description here

  • If I understand correctly, it looks like you did apply a character style to your level 2 headers throughout the document. TOC does carry over applied character styles, which can lead to this kind of situation. If so, question is: why applying a character style to an entire paragraph? Why not using a paragraph style instead? This is what para styles are meant to, and it will solve your issue. Do not hesitate to give more details if I didn't get what your issue was.
    – Vinny
    Mar 9, 2020 at 9:34

1 Answer 1


Yes, definitely. The settings for this are in the very window shown in your image and you are looking at those.

'Include Paragraph Styles' section is a list of styles from your chapters that should be pulled into the TOC.

Then, the styles referred to below are the actual styles you need to use in the formatting of the TOC, which of course can be different from the styles used on the actual pages.

Make sure to read this: https://helpx.adobe.com/indesign/using/creating-table-contents.html

  • I don't want to change the paragraph style of the actual chapter and subchapter names, though. I only want to change the style in the TOC itself, and I can't seem to figure out how to do that in a way that allows me to later update the TOC without reverting to the styles displayed in my pic above.
    – CXL
    Mar 9, 2020 at 0:10
  • @Clairely: you must have forgotten to save your adjusted TOC style; that's when you have to recreate it from scratch.
    – Jongware
    Mar 9, 2020 at 8:50
  • @ClairelyClaire.msft: please read my answer again. You are clearly not aware of all the options available, read that again + the official docs (via the link provided) and you'll figure it out somehow.
    – Lucian
    Mar 9, 2020 at 14:09

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