How to Use Outline Tool in Google Docs

Google Docs enables you to write, edit and structure text documents online. An outline is a centralized point where you can see all your main points, a list of headings, a complete structure of your topic, and a summary of your whole document. In Google Docs, the outline feature guides the user about the overall content of an article, and the user can navigate to any of the headings.

Document outline helps you to navigate multi-page documents and quickly jump from one section to another. In this write-up, a procedural guide will explain the use of the outline tool in Google Docs.

So, let’s start!

How to Enable Outline Feature in Google Docs?

Head to Google Docs, sign into your Google account and open a Google document:

Click on the “View” tab from the Menu bar and check the “Show outline” option, as indicated below:

The outline will be displayed on the left side of the document.

How to Create an Outline in Google Docs?

If your outline is empty, that’s because you have not formatted your text as “title”, “heading 1”, or “heading 2”. After applying the “title”, “heading”, or your desired heading level, it will automatically be formatted in the outline with the indentation level.

To apply the heading or subheading, you can do it in two simple ways:

  • Apply Heading Directly From Toolbar
  • Apply Heading From Menu

Method 1: Apply Heading Directly From Toolbar

First, apply the heading level directly from the“Styles” menu dropdown list (available adjacent to the font family option).

Method 2: Apply Heading From Menubar

Secondly, the level of style can also be added by clicking the“Format” dropdown option from the menubar. From the format dropdown, choose “Paragraph styles”, and a list of options will open as shown below:

Select the text and apply the “title”, “heading”, or “subheading”. It will automatically show up in the outline, and the text formatting will change to the pre-defined format of that heading.

If you change the indentation level of the heading, it will automatically be updated in the outline.

How to Remove a Heading From the Outline?

If you have changed your mind and you don’t want to keep the text as a heading any more in your document, you don’t have to delete the heading text.

Just click “X” on the right side of that heading and remove that from your outline:

How to Navigate From Google Docs Outline?

You can easily navigate from one heading to another by simply clicking on that heading. For a lengthy document, you don’t have to go to every heading to read the text in that heading, rather just navigate from the outline:

When you click on the heading from the outline, that heading text color will change to blue, indicating that we are in this heading and will take us to that heading paragraph text directly.

How to Close/Hide the Outline From Google Docs?

While working in Google Docs, users can hide the outline by clicking on “View” from the menu bar and unchecking the “Show outline”:

Once you hide the outline, the outline will not be available on the left pane.

If you want to show or close the document temporarily, you can simply toggle the option on the top left in the outline.

The below buttons show the option for “Close Document Outline” when you click it, the outline will be closed and replaced by the outline list option. Similarly, to show the closed outline, just click on the list option available.

That’s all from this guide!


The outline tool can be enabled/disabled in Google Docs by navigating to the “View” option in the “Menu bar” and checking/unchecking the “Show outline” option. The outline tool is used to navigate multi-page documents by clicking the heading from the document outline. The outline tool gives structure to your document and allows you to see all your main points at a centralized location. This guide has provided a brief knowledge about the outline tool in Google Docs.