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Working with Long Documents in Adobe InDesign CS3: Table of Contents

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Anything you can tag with a paragraph style, you can build into a “table of contents,” which all depends entirely on your using styles. Olav Martin Kvern and David Blatner show you how.
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Table of Contents

Don’t get fooled into thinking the Table of Contents feature (under the Layout menu) is only for making book tables of contents. This feature lets you build collections of paragraphs that have been tagged with specific styles. For instance, if you use even two styles when you’re formatting a book—one for the chapter name and another for your first-level headings—you can build a basic table of contents by collecting all the paragraphs tagged with these two styles. But if you use paragraph styles to tag your product names, you could just as easily build an index of products for a catalog. Anything you can tag with a paragraph style, you can build into a “table of contents.” (While QuarkXPress can also make these kinds of lists based on character styles, InDesign currently only works with paragraph styles.)

This all depends entirely on your using styles. You should be using styles anyway—if you’re not, you’re working way too hard; refer to Chapter 4, “Type,” to see why you should.

Making a Table of Contents

Making a table of contents (or a list of figures, or whatever) is easy, but it requires a methodical approach to the Table of Contents dialog box (see Figure 8-9).

  1. If you only have one list (table of contents, list of figures, etc.) in your document, you can leave the Style pop-up menu set to [Default]. We’ll cover table of contents styles later in this section.
  2. Fill in a name for your list in the Title field. InDesign places this title at the beginning of the list, so you might want to type “Table of Contents” or “Advertisers” or something like that. We usually leave this field blank and later make our own title on the document page. If you do include a title, choose a paragraph style for it from the Style pop-up menu to the right of the Title field. (InDesign automatically adds a paragraph style called “TOC title” to your document when you open this dialog box, but you don’t have to use that style if you don’t want to.)
  3. Choose the paragraph styles that you want included from the list on the right. You can click the Add button to add them to the list, but double-clicking the style names is faster. You can also select more than one style (by Command/Ctrl-clicking each one) and then click Add to add them all at once (in which case they’re added alphabetically—if you want to rearrange the order, just click and drag the style names after adding them).
  4. One by one, click each style in the Include Paragraph Styles list and choose a paragraph style for it from the Entry Style pop-up menu. This is helpful because you’d rarely want a heading from your document to appear in your table of contents in the actual Heading style; instead, you’d probably create a new style called “TOC-head” or something like that. If you want certain paragraphs to be indented on your final list, you should apply styles here that include indentation. InDesign adds a paragraph style called “TOC body text” to your document when you open this dialog box, but you don’t have to use it—we just roll our own.
  5. If your document is included in a Book panel, you can choose to include the entire book in your list by turning on the Include Book Documents check box. We’ll talk about the Replace Existing Table of Contents check box below.
  6. Finally, when you click OK, InDesign builds the table of contents (which might take a little while, especially if you have many documents in a book). When it’s done, InDesign displays the text place icon, just as if you had imported a text file (see Chapter 4, “Text,” if you need to know more about placing text).

More Table of Contents Options

The default Table of Contents dialog box gives you the basic controls you need for a simple table of contents, but for most lists we make we click the More Options button, which gives us more options for fine-tuning the table of contents (see Figure 8-10).

  • Page Number. You may not want every entry in your table of contents to be followed by a page number. For instance, you might want page numbers after the headings, but not after the chapter titles in a book. You can control how page numbers will appear on your printed page with the Page Number pop-up menu. You’ve got three options for numbering: After Entry, Before Entry, and None. The first two tell InDesign to include the page number (either before or after the entry), separated from the text of the paragraph by a tab character. We typically create a character style for the page numbers and select it from the Style pop-up menu to the right of the Page Number menu. This way, all the page numbers appear the same rather than appearing in the Entry Style.

  • Between Entry and Number. By default, InDesign places a tab character between the entry and the page number (whether the page number is before or after the entry). However, you can change this to some other character or characters. For instance, we usually replace the ˆt character (which is code for a tab) with ˆy (a right-indent tab, which always sits flush on the right margin, even if you haven’t placed a tab stop). If you’re planning on including dot leaders between the entries and the page numbers (which you would set up in the Tabs panel), you may want to pick a character style from the Style pop-up menu. A regular dot leader looks too much like periods in a row (which is exactly what it is), so we often make a character style of 7-point text with 500 units of tracking, then apply this style to the leader.

  • Sort Entries in Alphabetical Order. If you turn on the Sort Entries in Alphabetical Order option in the Table of Contents dialog box, InDesign sorts the list in alphabetical order when you build it. Whether or not you want your final list alphabetized is up to you; you probably wouldn’t want it when you build the table of contents for a book, but you might if you’re creating a list of items in a catalog.

  • Level. Each paragraph style you include appears with a different indent in the Include Paragraph Styles list. You can control how much indent with the Level feature. This only adjusts the display in this dialog box; it has no effect on the final list unless your list is alphabetized—in which case, the entries are alphabetized by level.

  • Run-in. Some tables of contents, such as those found in academic journals, are “run-in”—that is, the headings are all in one paragraph, separated by semicolons. If you want this sort of list, turn on this option (see Figure 8-11).

  • Include Text on Hidden Layers. This option is pretty self-explanatory. If you have multiple layers in your document, you can choose whether to include the text on those layers even when the layers are hidden. While it’s rare that you’d turn this on, you might do so if you have made a layer that contains keywords or explanatory text that you want in the table of contents but don’t want in print (see the next section).

  • Numbered Paragraphs. If you have used automatic paragraph numbering in your document, you have a choice of what will appear in the table of contents: the entire paragraph (with the numbering), the paragraph with no number, or only the number.

Using Dummy Text for Lists

One of the things we like most about tables of contents is that they’re document-wide rather than simply story-wide. That means that any text in any text frame can be included in a table of contents—even text in a nonprinting text frame. With this in mind, you can add “tags” to items on your page that don’t appear in print, but do appear in your table of contents.

One of the best examples of this is an advertiser index. You can place a text frame with an advertiser’s name on top of that company’s ad in your document. Set the text frame’s color to None and turn on Nonprinting Object in the Attributes panel (or put the frame on a hidden layer), and it’s almost as though this were a “non-object”—the text won’t print, and it won’t affect the ad underneath. But if that advertiser’s name is tagged with a style, you can include it on a list of advertisers.

The same trick applies to building a list of pictures in a catalog, or for any other instance where what you want on the list doesn’t actually appear on the page.

Building and Rebuilding Tables of Contents

There is nothing magic about the text or page numbers in your table of contents—they’re just regular text and numbers. That means if you update the document on which the list is based (such as adding pages or changing the text), the entries and page numbers in the table of contents don’t automatically update, and you will have to rebuild it. We find that we build and rebuild a table of contents several times for each document or book. It isn’t that we’re having so much fun with the feature—it’s that we make mistakes.

To update a table of contents, use the Selection tool or Text tool to select the text frame containing the list, then choose Update Table of Contents from the Layout menu. Or, if you want to make a change to the Table of Contents dialog box settings, you can choose Table of Contents from the Layout menu, make the changes, turn on the Replace Existing Table of Contents check box, and click OK.

Table of Contents Styles

Everything we’ve said about table of contents so far is based on the idea that you have only one of these in your document. However, you can define lots of different table of contents styles in a single document—one for headings, one for figures, one for bylines, and so on. The easiest way to do this is to build various table of contents styles, which are simply saved collections of settings. Once you set up the Table of Contents dialog box just the way you want it, you can click the Save Style button to save this setup as a style (see Figure 8-12). Later, you can reload those settings by choosing your style from the TOC Style pop-up menu at the top of the dialog box.

A second way to build a “style” is to select Table of Contents Styles from the Layout menu and click New. You get a nearly identical dialog box, but when you click OK your settings are saved for use later. You can also use the Table of Contents Styles feature to delete and edit styles, or load them from other InDesign documents.

Note that if you save your table of contents style after building a table of contents in your document, InDesign isn’t smart enough to match your built list to the style name. That means you can’t use the Replace Existing Table of Contents feature. Instead, you’ll have to delete the already-built list and replace it with a new one.

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