Creating an ebook table of contents

Until I started using Mark Coker’s eBook formatting template I was letting Microsoft Word create my ebook table of contents for me.

I have purchased quite a few Kindle formatting books, reports, etc., and most say to use the automatic table of contents in Word so that is exactly what I was doing. In fact, one I downloaded from Amazon itself said to use the automatically generated table of contents. Unfortunately, if you will be using Smashwords and converting your files to the various eBook formats, the automatic table of contents just won’t cut it. Actually, I don’t think it cuts is anyway…

When I was using the table of contents creator in Word, it was easy as pie. That is unless I manually edited the table or until I made changes to the document and had to update the table. I have had on a few occasions times that I had to edit the generated table to make things look ok to me. I then made more changes to the document and when I regenerated the table, you guessed it, I had to redo everything again, it was a pain!

Then when I had everything to my liking, the EPUB validation kept giving me errors. One was my table of contents. Frustrating!

Never use the automatic table of contents creator in Word. Always create your ebook table of contents manually using bookmarks and hyperlinks. This makes converting to other EBook formats much easier. It also makes adding or editing the table easier. If you add a chapter to the book all you need to do is add it manually to the table of contents using a bookmark and hyperlink.

The style guide explains exactly how to create the table of contents but I will point out the steps:

  1. Place your cursor where the bookmark is to be. This is usually directly before the chapter heading
  2. Choose Insert/Bookmark and name it to something recognizable for the location
  3. Bookmark names must not have any spaces; chapter1 is ok, chapter 1 is not
    Selecting where to place bookmark for table of contents link
  4. Repeat for all chapters
  5. Create your table of contents using the chapter names
    Table of contents before hyperlinking
  6. Highlight the first chapter name in the contents and navigate to Insert/Hyperlink
    Highlighting the chapter to be hyperlinked
  7. Choose the “Place in this document” tab and find the bookmark associated with the chapter. Click “Ok”
    Inserting hyperlink
  8. The words you highlighted should now be a hyperlink that will take you to the specific chapter
  9. Repeat for all chapters
    Hyperlinked ebook table of contents
  10. Be sure to check all hyperlinks to be sure they work correctly

Of course, there may be a little more involved for your specific book but the style guide goes over it in much more detail.  I know you downloaded the guide right?