Basic Book Design/Table of Contents

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Most word processors will automatically generate a table of contents.

A table of contents should be one or two pages. Readers should be able to glance through it and see what the book is about. If your table of contents is too short, increase the number of levels. If it's too long, reduce the number of levels. You can put a detailed table of contents after the primary table of contents if necessary. The detailed table of contents can be as long as you wish.

Chapter Summaries[edit]

A table of contents should include a one- or two-line chapter summary after each chapter title. The summary makes readers want to read the chapter (like the title and subtitle of the book). E.g.,

Chapter 3: The Announcement………..…....……36
Brad and Carol always wanted kittens—but for lunch?

Microsoft Word can't do chapter summaries automatically. You'll have to run your table of contents, and then type in each chapter summary. This is tedious, if you have to run your table of contents several times (e.g., you add or move a chapter).

Before sending your book to the printer, check the table of contents page numbers. Nothing makes a book look more amateurish than a table of contents that doesn't match the page numbers. E.g., Chapter Three is supposed to start on page 36, but actually starts on page 37.