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Table of Contents in Adobe InDesign

Having a table of contents is a must in any book, magazine or any form of large
publication. A table of contents displays the structure of the publication helps
the reader navigate its contents. By displaying significant sections of a
publication along with its page number, will link the reader to the information
theyre looking for without having to scan the entire publication.
InDesign can automatically generate a table of contents from the information
already in the document. This means that you dont have to manually write-out
the table of contents, but there is still a fair bit of preparation work involved to
get the table of contents generated properly. You will also need some actual
content inside the document before you can even create a table of contents as
well.
To save time, Ive attached an InDesign document with some dummy content
that you can download HERE. Its only for Adobe InDesign versions CS6 and
above, so sorry to those with those with the earlier versions.

Preparation
When producing a table of contents, you will need to first assign
some paragraph styles to certain sections of the content and to the table of
contents itself. You will see later why this is important. In the file Ive included
in this tutorial, I have already assigned the paragraph styles with their own
formatting. However, I will still go through where the paragraph styles need to
be used and you can format them to your own tastes if youre working on this
tutorial from scratch.
1) Open open the document and make sure the Paragraph Styles panel is
available by going Window > Styles > Paragraph Styles.
2) In the Paragraph Styles panel, create six new styles by clicking on
the Create new style button at the bottom of the panel.

Heres what each of the styles will be used for:


Chapter Heading: Style used for the chapter headings on each page. Ive
made mine 50pt and bold, so its quite large.
Chapter Summary: Syle used for the short bit of description text right under
the chapter heading.
Body text: This is simply the style for the blocks of lorem ipsum text. Not
really essential for the table of contents.
TOC Chapter Name: This will be the style used on the table of contents itself
for the chapter names.
TOC Summary: Another paragraph style for the table of contents in the
summary text part.
TOC Title: Style to be used for the table of contents title.

3) On the file Ive provided, all the paragraph styles have been set. However,
heres how to customise the paragraph styles if you need it:
To give each new style the same names as above (or the names you want) along
with the formatting, double click on the style button (but not on the text part),
which will bring up Paragraph Style Options window. Basic Character
Formats on the side bar is the place to go.

Get all five paragraph styles done and move on to the next step.

4) Now you need to apply these new paragraph style to the right bits of text.
With the Selection Tool select the text you will be using for the chapter titles.
Open up the Paragraph Styles panel and click onto Chapter Heading to
apply the style.

Then do the same for the Chapter Summary and Body Text.

Time to Generate a Table of Contents


Return to the first page of the document, which should be blank. Here we will
place the table of contents.
1) Go Layout > Table of Contents which will open up a window:

2) In Title type in ~ Contents ~ and set the Style to TOC Title.

3) Under Styles in Table of Contents Select Chapter Heading and press <<
Add

This will tell InDesign that we want all text assigned with this paragraph style to
be included in the table of contents.

4) Do the same for Chapter Summary:

5) Underneath we need to adjust how both the Chapter Heading and Chapter
Summary will appear on the table of contents.
First, under Entry Style set the style to TOC Chapter Name, make sure Page
Number is set to After Entry and type in ^>p. which will add a space and
then a p. inbetween the Chapter Heading and page number.

6) Select Chapter Summary and underneath set TOC Summary for the Entry
Style and set Page Number to No Page Number as we do not want a number
to appear after the summary text.

7) Finally hit OK and your mouse cursor will transform into a lump of text:

8) Click onto the top of the page to generate the table of contents.

You can now tweak the table of contents just like any other block of text in
InDesign:

Also, if you make any changes to the titles or summary text in the document,
you can update the table of contents by simply going Layout > Update Table
of Contents.

Create a table of contents


About tables of contents
A table of contents (TOC) can list the contents of a book, magazine, or other
publication; display a list of illustrations, advertisers, or photo credits; or include
other information to help readers find information in a document or book file.
One document may contain multiple tables of contentsfor example, a list of
chapters and a list of illustrations.
Each table of contents is a separate story consisting of a heading and a list of
entries sorted either by page number or alphabetically. Entries, including page
numbers, are pulled directly from content in your document and can be updated
at any timeeven across multiple documents in a book file.
The process for creating a table of contents requires three main steps. First,
create and apply the paragraph styles youll use as the basis for the TOC.
Second, specify which styles are used in the TOC and how the TOC is formatted.
Third, flow the TOC into your document.
Table of contents entries can be automatically added to the Bookmarks panel for
use in documents exported as Adobe PDF.
Tips for planning a table of contents
Consider the following when planning a table of contents:

Some tables of contents are built from content that does not actually
appear in the published document, such as a list of advertisers in a
magazine. To do this in InDesign, enter content on a hidden layer and
include it when generating a TOC.

You can load TOC styles from other documents or books to build new
tables of contents with the same settings and formatting. (You might
need to edit an imported TOC style if the names of paragraph styles in
the document do not match those in the source document.)

You can create paragraph styles for the table of contents title and
entries, including tab stops and leaders, if desired. You can then apply
these paragraph styles when you generate the table of contents.

You can create character styles to format the page numbers and the
characters separating them from the entries. For example, if you want
the page numbers to be in bold, create a character style that includes the
bold attribute, and then select that character style when you create the
table of contents.

Create tables of contents in books

For best results, be sure to do the following before creating a table of contents
for a book:
Before you create a table of contents, verify that the book list is complete,
that all documents are listed in the correct order, and that all headings
have been formatted with the appropriate paragraph styles.
Be sure to use paragraph styles consistently throughout the book. Avoid
creating documents with styles that have identical names but different
definitions. If multiple styles have the same name but different style
definitions, InDesign uses the style definition in the current document (if
a definition exists there), or the first occurrence of the style in the book.
If the necessary styles do not appear in the pop-up menus in the Table of
Contents dialog box, you may need to synchronize the book so that the
styles are copied to the document containing the table of contents.
If you want number prefixes (such as 1-1, 1-3, and so on) to appear in
your table of contents, use section numbering rather than chapter
numbering. Section number prefixes can be included in a table of
contents.

Generate a table of contents


Before you generate a table of contents, decide which paragraphs
should be included (such as chapter titles and section headings),
and then define paragraph styles for each. Make sure that these
styles are applied to all appropriate paragraphs in the document or
booked documents.
When you generate the table of contents, you can also use
paragraph and character styles to format the table of contents.

Table of contents without paragraph styles (left) and with paragraph styles
applied to entries (right)
If paragraphs that are to be included in the table of contents appear in different
stories on the same page, their order in the TOC is determined by their position
on the page.
1. Do one of the following:
If youre creating a table of contents for a single document, you may
want to add a new page at the beginning of the document.

If youre creating a table of contents for multiple documents in a


book, create or open the document to be used for the table of
contents, make sure that its included in the book, and then open
the book file.
2. Choose Layout > Table Of Contents.
If youve defined a TOC style that has the appropriate settings for your
TOC, you can choose it from the TOC Style menu.
3. In the Title box, type a title for your TOC (such as Contents or List of
Figures). This title will appear at the top of the table of contents. To
format the title, choose a style from the Style menu.
4. Select Include Book Documents to create a single table of contents for all
documents in the book list, and to renumber the books pages. Deselect
this option if you want to generate a table of contents for the current
document only. (This option is dimmed if the current document is not part
of a book file.)
5. Determine which content you want to include in the table of contents by
double-clicking paragraph styles in the Other Styles list to add them to the
Include Paragraph Styles list.
6. Select Replace Existing Table Of Contents to replace all existing table of
contents stories in the document. Deselect this option if you want to
generate a new table of contents, such as a list of figures.
7. Specify options to determine how each paragraph style in the table of
contents is formatted.
Its a good idea to define a TOC style that contains the formatting and
other options for your table of contents, especially if you want to include
multiple TOCs in your document. To do so, click Save Style. You can also
create TOC styles by choosing Layout > Table Of Contents Styles.
8. Click OK.
A loaded text cursor
appears. Before you click or drag, you can move
to a different page or create a new page without losing the loaded text.
9. Click or drag the loaded text cursor on a page to place the new table of
contents story.
Note:

Avoid threading the TOC frame to other text frames in the document. If you
replace the existing TOC, the entire story will be replaced by the updated TOC.

Create TOC styles for multiple lists


Use TOC styles if you need to create different tables of contents in your
document or book. For example, you can use one TOC style for a list of contents

and another for a list of advertisers, illustrations, or photo credits. Create a TOC
style for each type of list.
Creating TOC styles are also useful if you want to use the same TOC formatting
in another document.
Note:
Dont confuse TOC styles with paragraph styles that have a TOC prefix. TOCprefixed paragraph styles (for example TOC title) are used to format the table
of contents entries themselves. In contrast, a TOC style is a collection of settings
used to automatically create a table of contents.
Create a TOC style
1. Choose Layout > Table Of Contents Styles.
2. Click New.
3. Type a name for the TOC style you are creating.
4. In the Title box, type a title for your TOC (such as Contents or List of
Figures). This title will appear at the top of the table of contents. To specify
a title style, choose a style from the Style menu.
5. From the Other Styles list, select the paragraph styles that represent
content you want to include in the table of contents, then click Add to add
them to the Include Paragraph Styles list.
6. Specify options to determine how each paragraph style is formatted.
Import TOC styles from another document
1. Choose Layout > Table Of Contents Styles.
2. Click Load, select the InDesign file containing the TOC styles you want to
copy, and then click Open.
3. Click OK.
Note:
If the paragraph styles in your document do not match the paragraph styles in
the TOC style you import, youll need to edit the TOC style before generating a
table of contents.

Options for formatting a table of contents


When generating or editing a table of contents, use these options to determine
the appearance of the generated table of contents text. Some of these options
are available only when you click More Options in the dialog box.
Note:

The settings in the Style section apply only to the style currently selected
under Include Paragraph Styles. You can specify different formatting options for
each style.
Entry Style
For each style in Include Paragraph Styles, choose a paragraph style to apply to
the associated table of contents entries.
Page Number
You might want to create a character style that formats the page number. You
can then select this style in the Style pop-up list to the right of Page Number.
(See Add paragraph and character styles.)
If you want the page numbers of the TOC to include prefixes, or to use a
different numbering convention, see Define section numbering.
Between Entry And Number Specify which characters you want between the
table of contents entry and its page number. The default is ^t, which tells
InDesign to insert a tab. You can choose other special characters, such as Right
Indent Tab or Em Space, in the pop-up list.
Select the existing text in the box before you choose a different special
character, to make sure that you dont include both characters.
You might want to create a character style that formats the space between the
entry and the page number. You can then select this style in the Style pop-up
list to the right of Between Entry And Number. (See Add paragraph and
character styles.)
If the entrys paragraph style includes a tab leader setting, and if the tab
character (^t) is selected, a tab leader appears in the generated table of
contents.

You can specify a character that separates an entry and page number, as well
as a style to apply to a character.

Sort Entries in Alphabetical Order


Select this option to sort table of contents entries in the selected style
alphabetically. This option is useful for creating simple lists, such as lists of
advertisers. Nested entries (Level 2 or 3) sort alphabetically within their group
(Level 1 or 2, respectively).
Note:
The sort order for a table of contents is determined by the documents default
language setting. To change the default language setting, make sure nothing is
selected and then choose a language from the Language menu in the Character
panel.
Level
By default, each item added to the Include Paragraph Styles box is set one level
lower than the item immediately above it. You can change this hierarchy by
specifying a new level number for the selected paragraph style. This option
adjusts only the display in the dialog box. It has no effect on the final table of
contents unless the list is alphabetized, in which case the entries are sorted by
level.
Create PDF Bookmarks
Select this option if you want the table of contents entries to appear in the
Bookmarks panel of Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader when the document is
exported to PDF.
Run-in
Select this option if you want all TOC entries to be run into a single paragraph. A
semicolon followed by a space (; ) separates the entries.
Include Text On Hidden Layers
Select this option only if you want the paragraphs on hidden layers to be
included in your table of contents. This is useful when creating a list of
advertisers or illustrations that may not appear as visible text in the document
itself. Deselect this option when youve used layers to store various versions or
translations of the same text.
Numbered Paragraphs
If your table of contents includes a paragraph style that uses numbering, specify
whether the TOC entry includes the full paragraph (both number and text), only
the numbers, or only the paragraph.
Frame Orientation
Specify the writing direction for the text frame you will use to create a table of
contents.

Create TOC entries with tab leaders


Entries in a table of contents are often formatted with dots or tab leaders
separating the entry from its associated page number.

Table of contents with dot leaders

1. Create a paragraph style with a tab leader.


2. To update the table of contents settings, do one of the following:

Choose Layout > Table Of Contents Style. Select a TOC style, and
click Edit.

Choose Layout > Table Of Contents (if you are not using a TOC
style).

3. Under Include Paragraph Styles, select an item you want to appear with a
tab leader in the table of contents.
4. For Entry Style, select the paragraph style that contains the tab leader.
5. Click More Options.
6. Verify that Between Entry And Number is set to ^t (representing a tab).
Click OK or Save to exit.
7. Update the table of contents, if necessary, by choosing Layout > Update
Table Of Contents. Otherwise, place the new table of contents story.

Create a paragraph style with a tab leader


1. Choose Window > Styles > Paragraph Styles to display the Paragraph
Styles panel.
2. In the Paragraph Styles panel, do one of the following:

Double-click the name of the paragraph style applied to entries in


your table of contents.

From the panel menu, choose New Paragraph Style.

3. Enter a name, if necessary, for the paragraph style.


4. Click Tabs.
5. Select the right-justified tab icon
the tab stop.

, and then click on the ruler to position

If the paragraphs youre applying the style to include numbered list


items, make sure that you include two tab settings the first for the
indented number and the second for the tab leader.
6. For Leader, type a period (.).
7. Select other style options as desired, and click OK.

Update and edit a table of contents


The table of contents is like a snapshot of content in your document. If page
numbers in your document change, or if you edit headings or other elements
associated with table of contents entries, youll need to regenerate the table of
contents to update it.
Update a table of contents
1. Open the document containing the table of contents.
2. Do any of the following:

To make changes to table of contents entries, edit your document or


booked documents, not the table of contents story itself.

To change the formatting applied to the table of contents title,


entries, or page numbers, edit the paragraph or character styles
associated with these elements.

To change how pages are numbered (for example, 1, 2, 3 or i, ii, iii),


change section numbering in the document or book. (See Number
pages, chapters, and paragraphs in a book.)
To specify a new title, include other paragraph styles in the table of
contents, or further format table of contents entries, edit the TOC
style.

3. Select or place the insertion point in the text frame containing the table of
contents, and then choose Layout > Update Table Of Contents.
4. If you have multiple tables of contents in your document, such as a list of
figures and a list of advertisers, select the text frame containing a
different list, and then choose Layout > Update Table Of Contents.
Editing a table of contents
If your table of contents requires editing, edit the actual paragraphs in the
documentnot the table of contents storyand then generate a new table of
contents. If you edit the table of contents story, youll lose your revisions when
you generate a new table of contents. For the same reason, you should edit the
styles used to format the table of contents entries, rather than formatting the
table of contents directly.