How to use the Navigation Pane (Document Map) in Microsoft Word
This page is primarily the work of the late Shauna Kelly. The original page
here. It was apparently written before the name Navigation Pane was
released. This is rewritten to try to distinguish between the legacy Document
Map and the current Document Pane. Errors are mine (Charles Kenyon). Copied with permission.
Once upon a time, Word's Document Map had a poor reputation. That reputation
was justified. Until Word 2002, it was very flaky. I've had Word 2000 crash
while displaying the Document Map more times than I can remember.
But from Word 2002, it improved a lot, and in Word 2010 it has been re-vamped
and moved to centre stage. The Navigation Pane is very useful, so give it a go.
How to invoke Navigation Pane (Document Map)
Figure 1: The three parts to the Navigation Pane in Word 2010
Figures 2 and 3: The Navigation Pane were given words rather than icons in
Word 2013 and later. (Pages shows thumbnails.)
To see the Document Map:
- In Word 2007 and earlier versions: View > Document Map.
- In Word 2010: View > Navigation Pane. Below the
search box, there are three un-named pale buttons. The first is the Document
Map (if you hover over it, the button says 'Browse the headings in your
document'). See Figure 1.
- In all versions except Word 2007: Alt+V+D.
(We lost the old keyboard shortcut in Word 2007, but it was reinstated for
You'll see the Document Map/Navigation Pane on the left of your Word screen.
What does the Navigation Pane (formerly Document Map) do?
Strictly speaking, it doesn't do anything. It just sits there on the
left of your screen. What it shows you, however, can be very useful. It shows an
outline of your document. That is, it shows all the headings in your document.
You get to choose whether to show just the highest-level headings, or
lower-level headings as well.
How to get Navigation Pane (Document Map) to display something useful
To get Navigation Pane (Document Map) to display useful headings, apply the
built-in heading styles to the headings in your document.
many ways to apply the heading styles.
In Word 2007 and Word 2010, on the Home tab, in the Styles gallery, click the
thumbnail for the heading style you want to apply.
In Word 2003 and earlier versions, the easiest way is probably to use the
Styles combobox on the toolbar. (And if you're used to using that, in Word 2007
and Word 2010, you can
reinstate the Styles combobox to the Quick Access Toolbar.)
From the Styles combo box, choose Heading 1 for your main headings, Heading 2
for sub-headings and Heading 3 for minor headings, and so on.
How to use the Navigation Pane (Document Map) to move around your document
If you click on a heading in the Document Map, the cursor will jump to that
heading. That gives you a really fast way to navigate around your document.
How to use the Navigation Pane (Document Map) to see where you are in a
If you have a really big document, it's sometimes easy to get "lost". You can
see a page of text, but it's hard to know where you are in the document.
The Navigation Pane (Document Map) is a good way to solve this problem. As
you move around your document, the Document Map will highlight the current
For example, in Figure 1, I can see that the cursor is within the section
with the heading "Balloons". In Figure 2, I can see that the cursor is within
the section "Sea transport".
How to control the number of levels that the Navigation Pane (Document Map)
There are two controls available:
- You can determine how many levels of headings the Navigation Pane
(Document Map) displays. Right-click in a blank area of the Navigation Pane
(Document Map), and choose how many levels you want to display. See Figure 1.
- You can expand or collapse individual headings by clicking on the plus
and minus signs next to the headings. See Figure 2.
Figure 1: In Word 2007 and earlier versions, to control the number of
levels displayed in Document Map, right-click in spare space
in the Document Map and choose your preferred level. This is the Document
Map from Word 2003. Word 2007 is similar.
Things change with Word 2010.
Figure 1a: Navigation Pane in Word 2010 and later. Recent versions look a
bit different but work the same way.
Note that although the expansion menu
talks about the Heading 1-9 styles it is really referring to the Outline
Level built into those styles.
Figure 2: Expand or collapse individual headings by clicking on the Plus
and Minus signs next to the headings. This is Word 2003. Word 2007 is
Word 2010 and later is shown in Figure 1a. The expand/collapse
How to change the format of the text in the Document Map (but not Navigation
In Word 2007 and earlier versions, text in the Document Map is shown in style
Modify the Document Map style to suit your needs. I find that 10pt Tahoma
works well. This feature was removed from Word 2010.
How to change the width of the Navigation Pane (Document Map)
Hover over the vertical bar separating the Navigation Pane (Document Map)
from your text. Drag left or right to suit your needs. See Figure 3.
Figure 3: Hover over the vertical bar to the right of the Document Map
and drag to change the width of the Document Map.
How to use the Navigation Pane in Word 2010 and later
The Document Map has changed substantially in Word 2010 (Figure 4). It's not
even officially called the Document Map but rather the Navigation Pane.
Figure 4: The Navigation Pane in Word 2010 and later showing the shortcut
menu when you right-click a heading. Note that in Word 2010 you must
right-click a heading.
It now shares the new "Navigation Pane" with a panel for
Find "Results" and one for Thumbnails "Pages".
There good things about the changes:
- Best of all: I can drag a heading in the Document Map, and the heading,
and all the paragraphs of text "below" it, will move.
- The old pre-Word 2007 keyboard shortcut of Alt-V-D has been reinstated.
So I can open the new Document Map with the keyboard shortcut I've been
using for a decade or more.
- Word no longer guesses about what to show in the Navigation Pane. It
displays paragraphs based solely on each paragraph's outline level.
But there are things I don't like so much about the new Navigation Pane:
- It shows a lot less content than the old one. It's pretty, but because
the headings are in little buttons, each one takes up a lot more space. We
lose 40% to 50% of the content compared with Word 2007 (the smaller your
screen resolution, the bigger the hit).
- To change the number of heading levels displayed in the Document Map
requires one more mouse movement than the old version. One more mouse
movement in this case is a change from 2 to 3, or a reduction in
productivity of 50%.
some good material about the new
Navigation Pane at microsoft.com, written
during the beta testing of Office 2010.
Moving parts of document using the Document Map (Word 2010 and later
You can click on a heading in the document map, hold and drag to move the
heading and all content between that heading and the next one of that level to a
different location in the document.
Figure 5.. Compare with Figure 4.
Shows ability to move sections in document to rearrange (Word 2010 and later
Bugs Challenges Annoyances
There are several problems with Navigation Pane:
- Navigation Pane doesn't show headings that are in
tables. I find this really annoying. It's a known bug that has
been inherited by the "new" Document Map of Word 2010. I guess it won't get
fixed any time soon. [Still true Word 2021]
- Navigation Pane doesn't show headings that are in text
boxes. Even the "new" Navigation Pane of Word 2010-2021 fails to show headings in
a text box. Until Word 2007, text in a text box did not appear in the table
of contents. So we weren't likely to put a heading in a text box. Since that
bug was fixed, we can put headings in a text box, and it's the only
straight-forward way to lay text over an image. So the failure of the new
document map to show headings is particularly irritating. [Still true Word
- Navigation Pane (Document Map) won't show numbering on
a heading that immediately follows a hard page break. [Still true Word 2021] There is a solution to
this: stop using Insert > Break > Page Break or
Insert > Page Break. Instead, use the Paragraph
dialog box. To see the Paragraph dialog:
- In Word 2003 or earlier: Format > Paragraph
- In Word 2007 and later: On the Home tab, click the dialog launcher
in the Paragraph group (the dialog launcher is the tiny arrow at the
bottom right of the group). It can also be selected using the
right-click context menu.
In the Paragraph dialog, on the Line and Page Breaks tab, tick "Page
Break Before". Or, better, use the "Keep with Next" setting to keep the
paragraph on the same page as the next paragraph. Or, better still, format
your document using styles that have been modified with an appropriate "Keep
with next" setting.
- In Word 2007 and earlier versions, sometimes the
Document Map decides to display tiny, unreadable type. It's a
known bug. The solution is to switch to Outline View and then back
again. That is:
- In Word 2003 and earlier: View > Outline View,
View > Print Layout)
- In Word 2007: View > Outline. On the
Outlining tab, click the
Close Outline View button.
- For developers: if you have a document attached to a
schema, marked up with XML tags, then the XMLSelectionChange event does not
fire when a user clicks on a heading in the Document Map that results in
moving the insertion point from one XML tag to another. This is very
disappointing, but there's nothing we can do about it. On the other hand,
using documents marked up with XML tags is unlikely to be important in the
Microsoft has had to remove the XML markup feature from Word when sold
in the US. That's disappointing, too.
For the curious or the frustrated: How does Word decide what to display in
Navigation Pane (Document Map)?
Word 2007 and earlier versions
Word displays paragraphs in Document Map according to the Outline Level of
the paragraph. You can change the outline level of an individual paragraph by
doing Format > Paragraph and changing the Outline Level. Or, you can use
Outline View to change the outline level of a paragraph.
More usefully, the Outline Level can be derived from the style you apply to
your text. The built-in heading styles have their Outline Level fixed (Heading 1
has Outline Level 1, Heading 2 has Outline Level 2 and so on). If you create a
custom style, you can
modify it to have the Outline level you choose.
If your document has text with appropriate Outline Levels, Document Map will
use those outline levels. If Word can't find any text with appropriate Outline
Levels, then, in Word 2007 and earlier versions, Word will guess. (In Word 2010,
Word no longer guesses. Hooray!)
You can test out this behaviour yourself, to see what kind of a mess Word can
make when it guesses<g>. To do that, follow these steps:
- Turn off Document Map.
- Create a new Word document.
- Copy the following text into your document:
A small line of text
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps
over the lazy dog.
Another short line
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. jumps over the lazy dog.
Few words here
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps
over the lazy dog.
- Turn on Document Map.
- Click within the bold paragraphs and do Format > Paragraph to inspect
the Outline Level.
You can see that Word has guessed that short, bold lines are headings and has
changed the Outline Level of the paragraphs.
Since no-one ever wants Word to guess, make sure you apply appropriate
styles (which have appropriate Outline Levels) to your text. Then you will be
controlling what displays in Document Map.
Word displays text in the Navigation Pane based entirely on the Outline Level
of the paragraph. It does not guess.
Fellow MVP Klaus Linke worked out the
problem with the missing heading numbering in Document Map.
Numbering, headings, outlines
Created May 2005. Last updated 7 August 2010.
Updated by Charles Kenyon 30 January 2020
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