Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Take a look at the bottom of the Layout panel. There's this feature called Table of Contents, and when most people see that, they think it's just for books. You know, Heading 1, Heading 2 and so on. And sure it can do that, but this powerful feature lets you build collections of any kind of paragraph. For example, you could build a list of advertisers, or a list of catalog items, or a list of figures, anything that you've applied a paragraph style to, you can collect with this feature. However in this case, I am actually going to build a Table of Contents for this little book that we have been working on in this chapter. So I will go to the File menu, choose Open, and open the book file. I will double-click on the TOC file, move this out of the way so it's not quite so in our face. This is the opening file that's the front matter of our document, and we are going to be putting the Table of Contents in this file. So to get a Table of Contents we go to the Layout menu, choose Table of Contents, and then stare at this kind of overwhelming dialog box.
This is not the most obvious and intuitive dialog box in InDesign by any stretch of the imagination, but it's actually not that hard once you take it step by step. The first step is the title. Right here at the top we can type in a title. That's the text that's going to be at the top of the Table of Contents. You could delete that text and have it blank if you want to, and then you wouldn't have any text at the top, or you could change it to Table of Contents, or really anything you want in here. Style means the paragraph style that's going to be applied to this text over here. So you could choose really anything like Heading 1 or any of your paragraph styles that you have created. It also automatically gives you something called TOC title. You can use that if you want.
Step 2 is to decide which paragraph styles we want represented in the Table of Contents. In this case we want all of our chapter heads, so I will double-click on Chapter Head and that adds it over to our Include Paragraph Styles list. I also want all the Heading 1s, so I will scroll down here until I get to Heading 1, and then I will go ahead and add that as well. So it's going to grab all the chapter heads and all the Heading 1. It's also going to grab the page numbers that are associated with those paragraphs, and it's going to put it in the Table of Contents. But what is it going to look like when it gets there, what kind of formatting will it give it? Well, that's step 3, the style area.
Entry style means, what style should be applied to the paragraph when it gets into the Table of Contents. Right now Heading 1 is selected in the Include Paragraph Styles list and it says same style here. Same style means grab the Heading 1 and its page number, and then apply the Heading 1 style to it. Well, that's going to be kind of weird looking in our Table of Contents. So we don't want that. Instead I am going to choose a different paragraph style out of this list. Let's choose TOC headings. Now I am going to select Chapter Head from this list and change this to the TOC Chapter Head paragraph style. The last thing I am going to do right now is turn on the Include Book Documents check box. Because I have a Book panel open in the background, it allows me to build the Table of Contents for the entire book, not just this one document. All right, let's check this to see what's going to happen. One more time, it's going to put Table of Contents at the top, it's going to style it with TOC title, then it's going to grab all the paragraphs that are assigned with chapter head and apply the TOC Chapter Head to them. Then it's going to get all the Heading 1 paragraphs and apply TOC Headings to that. And it's going to do it for the entire book.
I'll click OK, and let's see how it goes. It goes to the whole document, grabs all those paragraphs, and loads them up in our Table of Contents in the place cursor. So now I need to tell InDesign where I want to put it. I am going to scroll down here until I get down to page three, with the Option+Spacebar feature or Alt+Spacebar on Windows, and now I am going to place this Table of Contents right here within the margins on page three. I just clicked and it built a textframe and put these stories into it. You can see the Table of Contents that we had specified at the top, you can see that it grabbed all of our chapter heads, and all of our Heading 1s throughout the entire book, and built a Table of Contents out of it.
Now I do see a few problems here already. One thing is, why is this duplicated? This one on page I, or the first page of the front matter, and one on page one of chapter one? Well, if I scroll back up here, I can see that that was the culprit. It grabbed that paragraph, because I must have used the chapter head style, even though this is actually of the title page. But that's okay. I can fix it. I am going to double-click on this to place the cursor in that paragraph. I will go the Paragraph Styles panel, and yup, there it is. Chapter head was applied to that paragraph. I am going to go to the Paragraph Styles panel menu, and I am going to choose Break Link to Style. So now it's not associated with that paragraph style anymore, or I could have also just made a new paragraph style for that. But this was little faster. Now let's go down and fix it.
Notice that the Table of Contents is not updated automatically. There is no live update here. We have to do it manually, but it's not that bad. Let's go ahead and close Paragraph Styles for now. This is how you update a Table of Contents. Just place your text cursor anywhere inside that story, then go to the Layout menu, and choose Update Table of Contents. It goes to the whole book and it updates it. Gives me a little alert saying, hey, everything worked just fine. Click OK and I can see that there we go. That first instance is now no longer in the Table of Contents.
The next thing that's kind of bugging me here is that I really wish all of these numbers were along the right side of this textframe. How could I push those out there? Well, let's go back to the Table of Contents dialog box. I will go up to the Layout menu and choose Table of Contents, and I am going to take a look at some additional formatting options in here. You don't see them right now; in fact, you won't see them until you click on the More Options button. Click on More Options, there we go. Now we see all the options that we have for doing Table of Contents. For example, right here we have a feature called Between Entry and Number and there is a code here with that ^t. That means a tab. Let's move this out of the way, and we can see that there is a tab character between the Entry and the Page Number. Instead of a tab, let's put something else in there. I am just going to delete that and I'll use this little flyout menu on the side to choose a special character called a right indent tab. The right indent tab, that code is ^y instead in case you care, I usually just ignore it. But that right indent tab basically is a tab that goes all the way out to the right indent, wherever that right indent happens to be. And of course here it happens to be at the right margin of the textframe, so that will be better.
You have some other options here as well, like how do you want to sort your entries. We want then in numerical order, not alphabetical order, so I will leave that turned off. You can also control where do you want the page number. Do you want the page number after the entry, or before the entry, or maybe no page number at all? In this case we want it to be after the entry, so I'll leave it alone. Now there is even more Style popup menus here. These are character styles, not paragraph styles. For example, the first popup menu is what character style do you want to apply to the numbers in the Table of Contents? Well, I have already created a couple of character styles in this document and I am going to choose TOC number to apply to the number in the Table of Contents.
The second popup menu is what character styles do you want applied to the leader? That is the character that's between the entry and the number. This is really helpful, because I want there to be a special kind of dot leader, which has really spaced out dots in between the entry and the number. Now I have set up all the styling for the Heading 1, I have to do the same thing for the Chapter Head. Let's go back and select that one, and we can see that all of this resets. So page number after entry, style is going to be TOC number, Between Entry and Number, well, I remember that was supposed to be ^y, not t, and the style is going to be dot leader. Looks good. I have set up both of those paragraph styles to be formatted the same way now and I can check down here that says, Replace Existing Table of Contents. That will be useful, now I don't have to update it myself.
But before I do anything else, I am going to save this style. I have done so much work here in this dialog box it would be a shame to lose it. So I will click Save Style and I will just give it a name. I am going to call it the Chocolate TOC. Click Save and now it shows up at the top menu here at the TOC style popup menu here. So if I ever need to have all of the same settings, I can just pull it out of that popup menu. Okay, now I am going to go ahead and click OK and it should replace that Table of Contents. Ah, it didn't. You know that Update Table of Contents check box must have gotten turned off when I saved the style. So that's okay, no problem. I will just go ahead and make one out here. I will delete this one and just do a copy and paste. That's no big deal. Take all of that and put it in here and we are good to go. Let's delete that one. Good enough, looking pretty good. Now you can see that this has a right aligned tab placed in here. You can see that all the numbers are now formatted with the TOC number of character style, so that looks much better because they are all consistent, but we are not getting those dot leaders, where are those dot leaders? Well, those leaders are part of the tab definition and tabs are defined in paragraph styles, so we better go edit our paragraph style. Click on paragraph style, and I will double-click to change to the Type tool here, and I can see that this is set to TOC chapter head, and I happen to know that the TOC headings is based on chapter head. So if I edit chapter head it will be like editing both of those at the same time. So let's go ahead and add a tab stop to the Tabs pane of the Paragraph Style Options dialog box for my TOC chapter head.
Now the way the right indent tab works in InDesign is it picks up the dot leader, or the leader character, whatever kind of character you have, from the last tab stop in the paragraph, wherever it happens to be. So I can click anywhere in here, it doesn't really matter, then click in the leader field and then press period or the dot to add that tab leader to this tab stop and the right indent tab, which is going to go all way out to the right indent here, will pick it up from that one. That's just a little trick that you can use when you are building these Table of Contents.
Now there are a couple of other things, since I am here, I might as well change. For example, I would like to put a little bit of space in between those that should be easy to do. Let's go ahead and do a space before of, maybe just increase that up to maybe 6 points. Now click OK, and you can see, great. We now have space, we have our dot leaders. That worked. Everything is really looking terrific now, except I am going to indent this just because I am a perfectionist and I really want to. So bear with me, I am going to edit the TOC headings and give this a little bit of a left indent, maybe just a couple of picas, click OK. There we go, looks terrific. Deselect everything with a Command+Shift+A or Ctrl+Shift+A on Windows and hit W to go into Preview mode, and we can see that we have built a really great Table of Contents.
So sure, we have used this to build a normal book Table of Contents, but you can see that this feature could easily be used to build a table of anything, as long as you've used your paragraph styles consistently.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
117 Video lessons · 44836 Viewers
119 Video lessons · 55646 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 15595 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 83401 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.
Your file was successfully uploaded.