How to Add Outline in Google Docs

483915 How to Add Outline in Google Docs

An outline is an extremely useful tool in Google Docs to help organize and navigate long documents. Outlines automatically detect headings in your document and display them in a separate sidebar. You can also manually add items to the outline.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to add an outline in Google Docs, both on desktop and mobile.

Enable the Outline Feature

To enable the outline feature:

  1. Open a document in Google Docs
  2. Click View > Show outline in the top menu. The outline sidebar will appear on the left.

To disable the outline, uncheck View > Show outline.

Add Headings to the Outline

Google Docs will automatically add headings to the outline. But you can also add headings manually:

  1. Highlight the text you want to make a heading
  2. Click the heading style in the toolbar (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.)
  3. The selected text will be added as a heading in the outline

Note: Subheadings will not show in the outline. Only top-level headings will appear.

Remove Headings from the Outline

To remove a heading from the outline:

  1. Hover over the heading in the outline
  2. Click the X icon that appears to the right

The text will remain in the document but will be removed from the outline.

Re-Add Headings to the Outline

If you accidentally remove a heading from the outline, you can add it back:

  1. Select the heading text in your document
  2. Right-click and choose Add to document outline

Navigate Headings from the Outline

The outline allows you to quickly jump between headings in your document:

  1. Click a heading in the outline
  2. You will be taken to that section of the document

This allows for easy navigation in long documents.

Add Outline on Mobile

The outline feature is also available on the Google Docs mobile app:

  1. Open a document
  2. Tap the More icon
  3. Choose Document outline
  4. The outline will open at the bottom of the screen

You can then navigate and modify the outline as needed by tapping headings or using the menu.

Outline for Collaboration

The outline is especially helpful when collaborating on documents:

  • Team members can use the outline to quickly navigate the document
  • Changes flow automatically between the document and outline
  • Headings can be reorganized in the outline without moving text

This allows for easy collaboration without lots of comments or confusion over formatting changes.

Best Practices for Using Outlines

Here are some top tips for getting the most out of outlines:

  • Add descriptive headings and subheadings to take full advantage
  • Use consistent heading levels (don’t jump from H2 to H4)
  • Remove irrelevant headings from the outline for clarity
  • Disable outlines in short documents to reduce clutter
  • Refresh outlines if they become out of sync with document changes


The outline tool is an invaluable feature in Google Docs to organize long, complex documents. By following this guide, you can fully leverage outlines to improve collaboration and enhance document navigation.

Start using outlines today to take your Docs to the next level!

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