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The Ultimate Guide On How To Make A Table of Contents

You always need to create a table of contents when you write a book

Adding a table of contents (TOC) is often the last task you think about when you have written a book. But when you try to add one, it can lead to some confusion or frustration.

In this guide, we will look at how to add a TOC in:

1. Microsoft Word

2. Apple pages

3. Make A Clickable TOC

4. In an ebook

Creating a TOC depends completely on the heading styles you have used for your chapter titles throughout your book.

It is an automatic table, so before you start you need to check all your heading text in your document.

To do this, go to the Styles menu. In Word, go to the View menu and select Styles Toolbox. In Pages, under the Text menu, click on the arrow near the Default tab.

Microsoft Word and Pages Styles

Consistent headings are the most important step before you can create table of contents insertions, so make sure every heading is correct.

You need to check all your heading text. In most cases, you will choose heading 1 style for your book title and heading 2 style for your chapter titles.

On rare occasions, you might want to have sub-headings in a chapter. If you want to use this heading level, select heading 3 style.

Heading 2

Go through your Word document and select the text for each chapter heading and select heading 2, and use heading 1 only for your book title on the title page.

You might also want to insert page numbers in the footer if you haven’t done so already.

Once all the headings in your document are set correctly, you are ready.

1. How to insert a table of contents field in Word

Go to the point in your document where you want to insert your TOC and place your cursor at the insertion point.

Then go to the Insert menu.

insert tables menu

Click Insert Index and Tables. You will see the following dialog box.

TOC dialogue box

You can select your TOC style from the Formats box. Next, click Options.

TOC settings

This is the most important setting.

Make sure that you number the priority of your headings.

Delete any other numbers in the Available Styles list and only number the styles you are using for your chapter headings. Then click OK.

Now click the modify button.

TOC modify

In this box, you can change the look and feel of your TOC heading style. If you want to make font and style changes, click the Modify button.

TOC Font

Click OK when you have finished styling your text. Then click OK again.

Your custom table of contents is now in your document.

TOC complete

If you want to make changes to your TOC styling, select all the text in your TOC and right click. You can then select from the menu to change the font or paragraph styles.

In the same popup menu in the image below, you can update the table of contents dialog box by clicking Update fields.

If you make any changes to your document, this will automatically update the page number or text changes you have made to your chapter headings.

Any time you make changes in your document, click update table and update the table of contents dialog box again.

The Toggle Field Codes is not very useful as it only shows the code behind your TOC.

TOC customise

The process above is similar for most version of MS Word including Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word for Mac.

2. Add a table of contents in Apple Pages

It is a similar process to Word, but with a couple of differences.

First, choose Insert Table of Contents and then Document at your insertion point.

Pages insert TOC

Next, select only the headings that you are using for your chapter titles. Again this is usually Heading 2.

Pages headings

To style your TOC, click into the table of contents field. This will change the menu tab on the right.

Pages set text

Now you can style your text and fonts. But there is one last setting to have your page number in the correct location next to your chapter titles.

Pages stops

Right at the bottom, you can change the tab stops, alignment and add a leader if you wish.

To make any alterations or changes, click into the TOC and the same dialog box will appear.

3. Creating a navigational table of contents

There are some uses for having a fully navigational, or clickable TOC. While a standard TOC will navigate from the page numbers, it is not very obvious for readers or users.

It is a manual process, so you will not be automatically generating your TOC. But again, make sure your chapter heading style is consistent and using heading 2.

You start by adding a bookmark to your chapter headings. Select your chapter text, and then from the Insert menu, Bookmark.

create bookmark

The next step is to name your bookmark. You cannot have spaces in the name. It can only be letters, so choose something recognisable for each of your chapters.

name bookmark

Click Add, and you have set your bookmark. Now you need to add your chapter title in your navigation list manually. As you can see, I have already added the first three chapters.

Add chapter title

Now select the text and choose Hyperlink from the Insert menu.

Add hyperlink

In the next dialog box, select Document and then click Locate.

Select Document

In the next dialog box, open the Bookmarks menu if necessary and then select your chapter bookmark. Then click OK.

Select bookmarks

You now have a hyperlink to chapter four. You can see the alt text box when you hover your cursor over the link. Clicking the link will take you to Chapter Four.

Link added

4. Adding a table of contents to an ebook

Good news. There is no need to create a table of contents in an ebook if you use the right software or upload directly to an aggregator.

The only action you need to take is to ensure that ONLY your chapter headings are using heading 2. You should check your document carefully to make sure there are no other instances of heading 2.

If you use Draft2Digital (D2D) to publish your ebooks, you only have to supply a Word docx file, with no copyright or title page. D2D will complete all the front matter including your title page and table of contents.

If you are using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) it is almost the same. However, you need to create a title page and copyright page in your docx file before you upload.

If you want to create your own ebook files in mobi and epub, you can use Calibre to make the conversion.

An automatic table of contents is created for you when you convert to epub or mobi using Calibre. Go to your book on Calibre and click on the book or the file type to open it.

Now click on the TOC icon, marked with the red arrow. You will see your all your chapters are listed.

They will be used as ebook navigation points on a Kindle device or any other ebook reading app.

Calibre TOC


For all the different ways you can create a table of contents the most critical factor is in formatting your chapter heading using styles.

Heading 2 must be used to make sure that all entries in the table are correct.

As all TOCs are automatic, if your styles are mixed, or not reserved for chapters headings only, your TOC will be inaccurate.

Once you have mastered the basics, adding a table of contents is a quick and easy task.

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