An Easy Way to TOC
September 27, 2022 3:25 PM   Subscribe

I need to make a table of contents for a poetry manuscript. I have not had success with Word, either in Manual or the automatic method with headings. I can upload the text anywhere; I just need a final pdf. What non-word options are there? Any other ideas? I’d hire help if I could. Thanks, all!
posted by mermaidcafe to Writing & Language (9 answers total)
 
What is the part you're having trouble with?

I mean, you can, if all else fails just type it out, right?


Item ..... Page
A .......... 1
B .......... 3
C .......... 5

Note if you're doing this type out all the item headings (be it chapters or poem titles or whatever you're using) before you start getting the page numbers, as if you have more then 1 page of item headings then it's going to push the page count up.

The Word feature relies on you having used Word's Styles to properly label each section/chapter/poem title or whatever else you want to show up in the TOC. This randomly choosen YouTube video seems to cover the Word TOC pretty well: Creating a Table of Contents in Word (THAT WORKS)
posted by tiamat at 3:37 PM on September 27, 2022


This isn't a helpful answer, but as someone who's wrestled with Word over this very same problem, I've resorted to drafting the table of contents myself, "by hand": I just sift through the manuscript and type up the titles of poems one by one in an adjacent document, then add page numbers. It's a bit time-consuming, but it's also unfortunately more effective than getting Word to automate the process (much less with an aesthetically pleasing outcome).

If you do this, it might be helpful to set up tab stops to put the little . . . between title and page number, if that's the style you're going for. I've seen lots of poetry manuscripts that just do Poem Title | 15 or the like for every single poem.

I've had good luck getting Scrivener to generate a table of contents, but I mostly only use Scrivener when I'm in that in-between stage with a half-finished with a manuscript that I'm still not sure how to order (it's great for moving individual poems/sections around really flexibly, and for generating new manuscript drafts in just a minute or two of work). But like Word's persnickety styles, Scrivener also needs to be configured just-so for the automatic ToC to work right, which is time-consuming enough that if you're not already using Scrivener, now's not the time to start.
posted by knucklebones at 3:40 PM on September 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


If you've already got a PDF I've had good luck with the Evermap series of Adobe Pro plugins, specifically (in your case) AutoBookmark which has a feature for Creating [a] Table Of Contents From PDF Bookmarks.

(Note these are Adobe PRO plugins, and require not only that you buy the plugin but that you've already paid $$$ for the full version of Adobe Acrobat, NOT the free Reader version).
posted by tiamat at 3:40 PM on September 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


The Word feature relies on you having used Word's Styles to properly label each section/chapter/poem title or whatever else you want to show up in the TOC.

Yes - but note that you don’t have to use the weird default styles! To change the styles to what you already have:

Select (say) a section of header text.

In the Styles menu, right click on the Heading 1 style and choose “update style to match selection.”

Now change all your headers to Heading 1, which should not change their appearance if you did this correctly.

Now make the TOC with the automatic tool.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:47 PM on September 27, 2022 [2 favorites]


Same in Google docs. All items that go in the TOC are given the heading style, and then it's as simple as choosing insert > table of contents
posted by Acari at 4:22 PM on September 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Now change all your headers to Heading 1, which should not change their appearance if you did this correctly.

All items that go in the TOC are given the heading style, and then it's as simple as choosing insert > table of contents


This is exactly what hasn't worked for me, as mentioned in the question. I want to avoid headers altogether.
posted by mermaidcafe at 4:59 PM on September 27, 2022


Overleaf is a free, web-based front end for LaTeX. LaTeX does tables of contents like a pro.

(Also its default font is one of the most beautiful fonts you have ever seen.)
posted by heatherlogan at 5:02 PM on September 27, 2022 [6 favorites]


Best answer: Word can make a table of contents with a style other than headings, if that helps accomplish what you want. If so, say so and I will look it up.

Also happy to help with this if you memail me. Other workaround in my setup would be to convert the Word file to PDF with bookmarks then produce the TOC in a pdf editor.

Html files also interpret headings if put in codes, e.g.
Heading. That could be a step towards your desired outcome.
posted by lookoutbelow at 6:38 PM on September 27, 2022


I actually find the google docs headings / toc setup super-intuitive compared to word, FWIW.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:25 PM on September 30, 2022


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