Step5i: How to Write a Table of Contents

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a table of content shows the things that are held or included in something. In the book inudstry, it is a list of the chapters or sections given at the front of a book or periodical.

It is usually on a page at the beginning of the book and indicates chapters’ and their corresponding page numbers. In addition to chapter names, it can include bullet points of the sub-chapter headings or subsection headings.

๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ’๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐๐ฎ๐ซ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐š ๐“๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ?

It serves two purposes:

(i) It gives readers an overview of the book’s contents and organization.

(ii) It allows readers to go directly to a specific section of the book.

๐ˆ๐ฌ ๐“๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐š ๐ƒ๐ข๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ซ๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐๐ž๐ญ๐ฐ๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐“๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ?

No. These two words are often used interchangeably.

๐ˆ๐ฌ ๐“๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐š ๐ƒ๐ข๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ซ๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐๐ž๐ญ๐ฐ๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐“๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ˆ๐ง๐๐ž๐ฑ?

Yes. These are two different sections in a book. The main difference between the two is that table of contents consists of main headings, titles, and page numbers associated with it whereas an index lists briefly the key elements, important words, concepts, etc from each chapter.

๐ˆ๐ฌ ๐€ ๐“๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ ๐‚๐จ๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ฌ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐€๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐๐จ๐จ๐ค๐ฌ?

No. Most fictional novels and children’s short story books do fine without a table of contents.

On the other hand, most nonfiction and self help books benefit from the use of a table of contents.

To determine if your book needs one or not, you have to determine if the table of contents will benefit your readers when they have an overview of what to expect in the book.

๐‡๐จ๐ฐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐–๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ž ๐š ๐“๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ

๐’๐ญ๐ž๐ฉ ๐Ÿ: Start on a new page and put the heading as CONTENTS or TABLE OF CONTENTS. It should be on its own page, so do not include the introduction or a dedication on this page.

It should come immediately after Dedication page ie Title Page, Verso Page, Dedication then Table of Contents.

๐’๐ญ๐ž๐ฉ ๐Ÿ:: List the headings of your book in order of appearance starting with chapter one to the last chapter. First include only the major titles or headings of each of the chapters. Write them down vertically on the page, using the same font and font size for each heading.

๐’๐ญ๐ž๐ฉ ๐Ÿ‘: Add subheadings if applicable. The subheadings will be the major subtopics under the main chapters of the book.

They should match the exact titles in the book. Write down all subheadings underneath the applicable main chapter. It is optional to list the subheadings. At the end, you should aim to get a table of contents that best invites your reades to venture into your book. Sometimes less is more appealing.

๐’๐ญ๐ž๐ฉ ๐Ÿ’: Write page numbers for each chapter and subheadings where each starts in the book. Only include the page number that marks the beginning of the chapter and subheadings. You do not need to include in the table of contents, the page number of where the chapter ends.

Before handing your manuscript to a publisher or editor, confirm that the numbering is well matched.

A designer will later work on the numbering professionally during the layout phase of your book. However, it is important for you to do a good job self editing the best way possible to give your book agents a better chance to further improve on the standards.

๐”๐ฌ๐ž ๐“๐ž๐œ๐ก๐ง๐จ๐ฅ๐จ๐ ๐ฒ: Instead of manually working on the table of contents, you can do it automatically within your word processor. Find more info from Microsoft Support.

Next we will look at Are There Differences Between Preface, Prologue, Prelude and Introduction?

Training by: Dr. Muthoni Mercy Omukhango

Publisher in Africa | National Director @CLC Kenya |Authorsโ€™ Manager @African Christian Authors Book Award-ACABA | Marketplace Minister | Patron at CLC Kids and Teens | Advancing Godโ€™s Kingdom through literature. www.muthoniomukhango.kenyaclc.org

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