Creating a Table of Contents for Multiple Word Files
September 18, 2009 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Microsoft Word and a table of contents across multiple files: my sister has to deliver her book as a series of Word files, one per chapter. In order to meet the house style (pdf), she's created a specific heading in Word to match their 'A' headings. She wants to generate a separate Table of Contents compiling all those headings into one linked ToC file. Is that possible?
posted by yerfatma to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Yes, this feature is called "Master Document" and that's the phrase she can use in the online help to find directions. It is very buggy, so she might need these instructions as well, for recovering a master document.
posted by Houstonian at 7:42 AM on September 18, 2009


Best answer: Honestly, the easiest way to do this is probably to just make a two-columned table, with the chapter titles in the left hand column and the page numbers in the right. Then make the table's lines invisible. The Table of Contents tool in Word is very good, but enough trouble to set up properly that it's only really worth it if you have a big, complex document and want the ToC to update automatically as you edit it.

As Houstonian says, you can use the "Master Document" tool to create one big Word Document that contains all the chapters. When open, any change that you make in the Master document will be reflected in the individul files. Similarly, any change you make to an individual file will be still be there next time you open a Master Document.

In Word 2004 for Mac (I know, I know...)

1) Create a New Document
File -> New Document

2) Change to "Master Document" view
View -> Master Document

3) Insert the chapters
Insert -> Document -> [choose the Word file that your first chapter is in]
Alternatively, just click the "insert subdocument" on the (newly-appeared?) Master Document View toolbar
...You'll probably want to insert a Page Break or Section Break between the chapters. Word should do this automatically, but it seemed a bit flakey to me.


4) Make sure that the headings are recognised by Word as headings. E.g. chapter headings are all "Heading 1", subheadings "Heading 2", etc. The Heading format that she's built should be fine too.

4a) Do you want page numbers?
For each section you've inserted, in "Normal" or "Page Layout" view, put the cursor somewhere in the section then do:
Insert -> Page number -> Format -> Continue from previous section

5) Check that all the document stucture looks ok
On the Master Document toolbar, click "1" to just see all the "Heading1" lines, "2" to see the "Heading2"s nested under the "Heading1"s, etc.

6) At the beginning of the document, insert a table of contents
Insert -> Index and Tables -> Table of Contents -> Choose a ToC that you like the look of

You can edit the ToC manually if you want, but be aware that some clicks on the ToC will take you to that heading/page instead of letting you edit it. When you change something in the main documents, it won't be reflected in the ToC until you right click on the ToC and select "update field".

Finally, having created a Master Document, be wary of moving it around too much. It doesn't actually contain the inserted documents, just links to them. So if you move the master or the sub-documents it can lose track of how to find the subdocuments. Ideally, save the Master Document and individual documents all in the same folder. When you open the Master Document in the future, you might just see the ToC then a few links that look like hyperlinks. If so, just go the the Master Document View and find an option or button to click labelled something like "expand all subdocuments".
posted by metaBugs at 9:13 AM on September 18, 2009


The Table of Contents tool in Word is very good, but enough trouble to set up properly that it's only really worth it if you have a big, complex document and want the ToC to update automatically as you edit it.

Oh, god, truer words have never been spoken. And when I was a technical writer, the only alternative for organizing complex documents was Framemaker. Jesus wept.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:37 AM on September 18, 2009


The Table of Contents tool in Word is very good, but enough trouble to set up properly that it's only really worth it if you have a big, complex document and want the ToC to update automatically as you edit it.

Oh, god, truer words have never been spoken. And when I was a technical writer, the only alternative for organizing complex documents was Framemaker. Jesus wept.


When dealing with vast documents I find myself wishing people would just write them in XML so I could write scripts to parse them.
posted by sonic meat machine at 2:19 PM on September 18, 2009


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