Creating an eBook Linked Table of Contents in Word at Smashwords

Linked TOC ArtI just published an ebook through Smashwords and had quite the time following the directions for creating a Table of Contents (sorry, Mark), even though I carefully read the Smashwords Styleguide. (I did try to cheat and use a paragraph indent and space between the paragraphs–I like the look–but the Meatgrinder caught me. I’m so ashamed.)

So, I looked elsewhere online and found some instructions that, combined with some from Smashwords, allowed me to figure out how to do it properly and easily in WORD. (I’m assuming this, since my book wasn’t kicked back due to TOC problems. My Table of Contents passed the EPUB and NCX checks the first time!) I’m sharing these steps because it’s way less confusing. I hope they work for you, too.

To create the TOC takes several steps. (Please note, I have put some pre-TOC notes below these directions.)

1)      In your WORD document, just after the’ front matter,’ (the Copyright and Dedication pages) do two returns, place a page break if you want one (Insert>Pages>Page Break), and do two more returns before adding Table of Contents. (If you don’t do two returns, the words before and after the page break can stick to the break.) At the top of the new page, type the words Table of Contents. Highlight those words, go to Styles, click on Normal and select Modify. There you can set the font, size, (such as 18pt; anything larger will get you booted), bold or italics, and choose center or flush left, however you want it. Give it your name, like TOC Style (or whatever).

2)      Then click anywhere in the three words, go to Insert>Links>Bookmark and type where it says Bookmark Name: ref_TOC (for EPUB AT Smashwords. The Kindle ID is different, but Smashwords converts our EPUB docs to all other formats).

3)      Back at the Table of Contents heading, hit Enter twice and type the list of your chapters (in the Normal style, usually 12 pt regular text). I named my chapters like this: Chapter One  Notes Along the Path (all on one line); Chapter Two  So Long, Guilt, and so on. (Can’t use tabs because they won’t line up in the ebook, so I just used two spaces between the chapter numbers and titles.) After I typed them all in a list, I created my own modification for the list of chapters: I highlighted all chapter names and went to Normal Style>Modify>Paragraph and set the changes as: Flush Left. (My Normal paragraph style is justified text.) I also wanted the list indented, so I used Paragraph>Indentation> Left>.50. Single spacing looked tight (apparently double spacing messes them up) so I set spacing at 1.5 and saved it as ‘Chapters List.’

4)      Now, you go to the first page of each chapter inside the book, one at a time, and repeat the following process for each of them:

Put cursor anywhere in the name of each of the chapters, one at a time. Click Insert>Bookmark>Name. They can only be set in the following fashion exactly, with only ‘Ch,’ only numerals, and no spaces anywhere on the line:


I used a reduced name for each chapter so I could recognize them later. At the bottom, choose Sort by: Location.

5)      Now, back to the Table of Contents page. Highlight each chapter on the page, one at a time, then right click>Hyperlink. A Bookmarks box opens. Click on the chapter you highlighted. On the left side of the box, click ‘Place in this Document.’

6)      After all chapters have been added, one at a time, open Insert>Links>Bookmarks. You should see your list of chapters there. Click on each one to confirm that it is linked to the chapter title inside the book. Be sure to remove any Hidden Bookmarks. (I didn’t think I had any, but sure enough, I had two. These mess up the real table of contents.) Find the ‘Hidden Bookmarks’ box, and click and unclick it to see the weird stuff you didn’t add. Delete all those lines.

One thing happened that I didn’t like (or do anything to cause, as far as I know). When I clicked on each of the chapter titles, my links worked, but the text does not appear just below the name of the chapter. I had to scroll down to see it, even though I didn’t use more than one return, or any page breaks, after the chapter titles. I guess this is an eBook thing, or I would’ve been booted out by the Meatgrinder software for this, too. Or, maybe it’s something else. I don’t know. But, using the above directions, my eBook passed through Smashword’s Meatgrinder software.

Here are some PRE-TOC notes, things you should know before creating the contents page:

There are no page numbers because on e-readers the text flows as one very long page. You create links to the chapter titles instead.

Don’t use Word’s Table of Contents creator. It doesn’t work in EPUB docs.

Regarding line spacing, everything in the book (at Smashwords) has to be either single-spaced or 1-1/2 spaces. Can’t use double space, or any features like, ‘Exactly’ and so on.

Your entire book should be based on the Normal Style: Home>Styles>Normal. This would ordinarily be 12pt, the font you select (eBook producers offer several choices, though they seem to favor Times New Roman, which was created for newspaper columns and tightly jams the letters together; I chose Palatino) and either Flush Left or Justified text. You modify ‘Normal’ (click on Normal, select Modify) for everything that is not 12 pt text paragraphs, like 18 pt for the words “Table of Contents;” and I used 14 pt bold for the title of each post from my blog. Think about your modifications, create and name them. (I named my based-on-Normal modifications: 18pt Centered and 14pt Title.) Then you’ll be ready to create your TOC. If you don’t like the way your choices look, just modify them again.

Hope this helps and keep at it. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Creating an eBook Linked Table of Contents in Word at Smashwords

  1. Hi There…I have downloaded your book and will let you know when I get through it…I had trouble finding it tonight so you may want to consider putting an image and link somewhere obvious on your home page!! Good for you!!! With love and light….Kim

    • Hi Kim, Sorry about that and thanks for the suggestion. I added a link to the book just under my image. That should be pretty obvious. 🙂
      I’ve downloaded a book to read from Smashwords too and you know what I’ve learned? Reading books on the computer is very tiring, at least for me. Someday I’ll make printed copies, too, for older people like me. 🙂 Thanks for reading it. It means a lot to me.

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