Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Typically, a table of contents, like an index, is one of the last things you build in your long documents. Before you can build a TOC, you need to build your long document with all of its chapter titles, section titles, and so on, in place and styled with paragraph styles. Then you can use the TOC features to copy and reformat that information into a table of contents. Let's see how it's done. So before you can build the table of contents, you have to build your long document with things like chapter titles, section titles, and so on, all in place and styled with paragraph styles.
And once that's the case, then you can go to the Layout menu and choose table of contents. This opens the Table of Contents dialog box, and at the top, we see a Table of Contents Style menu. There is a Default, and I've built in a front matter table of contents style that we'll take a look at in a minute. But for now, we'll leave it on the default. And then the first choice is do we want a title for our table of contents? So you can have the word Contents appear at the top of your table of contents or you don't have to have it at all--and you can apply a paragraph style for that too.
Then we come to the Styles in Table of Contents area, and this is where you really build the content of your table of contents. This is where you tell InDesign which paragraph styles to look for in your long document to build the table of contents. When InDesign finds those paragraphs, it'll copy whatever is in them and collect it all to build the table of contents. Even things like anchored items can come along for the ride. So right now the only paragraph style this table of contents is going to use is No Paragraph Style, and I actually don't want Content set to No Paragraph Style in my TOC, so I'm going to click on the Remove button and remove that.
I can go on the other side to the Other Styles section and include content from these paragraph styles. So I could scroll down and see all the paragraph styles, and I could pick, say, Chapter Titles, Chapter Headings, and I can double-click to move them over into the Include Paragraph Styles. So I can include Chapter Headings Level 1, 2, 3, the overall ChapterTitle, FeatureTitle, and so on. If I change my mind, I can again double- click on a style name or click on Remove to take it out of the table of contents.
Here, I'll take the FeatureTitles out. Then once you have all the styles in place to grab the content you want in your TOC, you have to decide how it's all going to be formatted, and that's what the next section of the dialog box is for. But before you click anything down here, go over to the right side of the dialog box and click More Options. This gives you several extra options for the way your TOC is structured and formatted. So with the ChapterTitle selected, I can choose or create a paragraph style to format this. So by default, the Entry Style is going to be in the same paragraph style as the ChapterTitle, but I can pick a different style that I want. And I've set up several TOC styles to match up to my regular document styles.
So I have a TOC - ChapterTitle. It's a good idea to have some kind of consistent style-naming convention so you can easily match up your document styles to your table of contents styles. Next, you can choose if each entry gets a page number, either after or before the entry, or no page number at all. And you can apply a style to that. And you can decide what comes between the entry and the page number. By default, it's a Tab character, but you can choose other things from the pop-up menu, including a right indent tab character to make the page number go all the way to the right margin. And you can apply a style to that.
Next, we have the ability to sort entries in alphabetical order and to apply levels. And these two things go together, although you might not guess that right off the bat. The way it works is InDesign will sort all Level 1 entries alphabetically, and then it will alphabetize all the Level 2 entries it finds in between the Level 1 entries, and so on. Also regarding the TOC levels, you might guess that the way they're indented here in the Include Paragraph Styles section will somehow affect the formatting that comes out in the TOC, but that's not the case.
The spacing that actually comes out on the page comes only from the indent set on the paragraph styles. This level serves two other purposes: for grouping entries in alphabetical order and also for creating nested bookmarks in exported PDF files. But it has nothing to do with the formatting on page. Down near the bottom, I have the option to create those PDF bookmarks, to replace an existing table of contents00 so if this is selected, I can keep updating my table of contents as my long document changes--or I can deselect it to just have a static one-time table of contents.
I'll leave it selected. I also have the option to make my table of contents a running table of contents. If I leave this unchecked, entries are separated by a paragraph return, but if I select it, the entries of the same style are separated by a semicolon and are all in one paragraph. And finally, I have the option to include text on hidden layers. So text need not be visible in my document elsewhere in order for it to appear in the table of contents. Finally, I have a choice of what to do with numbered paragraphs? Do I want to include the full paragraph which includes the text, and the number, just the number, or exclude the numbers and have just the text? Okay.
Now that we've gone through the options, I'm going to switch to a different TOC style, the one that I built in advance, this front matter TOC. This includes all the paragraph styles for my long document that I want to include in the table of contents. If I click on each one, I can see how they're going to be formatted. Each one has a matching paragraph style and a right indent tab to put the page number over on the right side margin, as well as styles for the page number and the separator. I am going to create PDF bookmarks. I'll click OK.
I'll say yes, I do want to include items in overset text, and I get a loaded cursor, where I can click in a frame to flow the table of contents. These two frames are linked, so when I click, the table of contents will flow from one to the other. There's my table of contents. So here's the heading that I had at the top of the dialog box. Here are the chapter titles with their page numbers. Here are the poetry titles. Here are the chapter subheadings and the lower-level subheadings. Here's the feature title and the recipe titles.
Now, let's export a PDF and see those nested bookmarks, which were the other purpose of levels in the TOC dialog box. I'll choose File > Export > Adobe PDF. I'll click Save and OK, and if any warnings pop up, I'll just click OK through them right now. I just want to see that PDF file. Here's my PDF of my table of contents, and if I look at the bookmarks, I can see all the nested bookmarks that I set up with the levels, and I can click on them to navigate to those parts of my document.
The Table of Contents feature is one of InDesign's best long-document features and not only does it allow you to make table of contents, but it has a lot of other cool alternative uses too, as we'll see next.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
120 Video lessons · 63293 Viewers
119 Video lessons · 70990 Viewers
125 Video lessons · 31964 Viewers
84 Video lessons · 18598 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.