There Isn't Just One Table of Contents in an eBook

There are two different types of Tables of Content.  We know this is confusing, but stick with it a moment.

  • The first type is the kind you are used to seeing in print books.  It lists the chapter on the left and a page number on the right.  We call this the “inline" or “HTML” TOC, TOC meaning “Table of Contents.” 
  • The second kind is actually usually invisible to the naked human eye.  It's a navigation aid for the device--it tells the device where each chapter or section or piece of content is, what order it goes it, and where it exists in the hierarchy of the book.  This is called the "NCX."  If you've been researching ebooks for a while, you've probably seen tons of questions about "how do I make an NCX?" from folks who are uploading Word files and trying to make those work.  

We make both kinds of TOCs for Amazon.  Amazon requires it.  Users access the first type of TOC by clicking the Kindle device and clicking or tapping “Go to-->Table of Contents.”  In this type of TOC, we create links from the Table to the respective chapters.  When a reader clicks “Chapter 1,” the reader is taken right to Chapter 1.  This is how that type of Table of Contents works.  

 

The traditional type of TOC, in a Kindle Book.
The traditional type of TOC, in a Kindle Book.

 

The normally invisible kind of TOC, that guides the device, on a Kindle book.
The normally invisible kind of TOC, that guides the device, on a Kindle book.

 

As we said earlier, the second kind is called a “toc.ncx.”  It’s a TOC that is actually not typed on a page.  It is invisible inside the ePUB book. However, when a user opens the ePUB book, they can see the full Table of Contents, always available, on the left-hand side, in a reader like ADE (Adobe Digital Editions, pictured below).  In some readers, like the Nook, they tap an icon and the table pops up, ready to be used to navigate wherever the reader wants to go.  

 

 

An ePUB displaying the invisible TOC NCX.
An ePUB displaying the invisible TOC NCX.

 

At Booknook, we make both kinds and put both in every ebook, so that your readers can use whatever type of TOC they prefer.  This meets Amazon's standards, Nook's and Apple's iBooks, as well as others.  

 

 

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