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Creating a TOC in Smashwords

I have decided to write a post about Creating a TOC in your MS word story for submission to Smashwords. I had trouble with this initially so thought it might be a good idea to write a short section if it may help others. I use the word "story" here in relation to MS word as technically it is not a manuscript as it’s formatting will not match that criteria but will be formatted as an eBook in MS word.

There are two ways really of doing this that I have found the easiest – the second is principally the first method with an additional step.

The first method:

First thing is to highlight each chapter heading ( chapter one ) with your cursor. It’s important to highlight the entire section as you wish it to appear in your TOC, including any sub-heading for that chapter. With that required section highlighted, go to the Insert option on the menu bar and click on Bookmark. Then call the bookmark something like c1 for chapter one then carry out the same process for the remaining chapters. Essentially, what you are doing here is bookmarking the chapters to enable Smashwords to identify them as chapter headings.

That’s it. Once submitted to SmashWords their metagrinder will then recognise the chapters and create a TOC for those headings.

It will probably then look something like this:

Story Title





The second method:

Follow the process above and then carry out this additional step: Choose a section in the book where you need the TOC to appear. This would normally be immediately before page one and probably after the copyright page. Then manually write the TOC, for example

Table of Contents





Be sure you type this exactly as you want it to appear on the rendered eBook version. Then, highlight each chapter heading on your manually-typed TOC and select the hyperlink option and then the Place in this document option. Then choose the appropriate c entry for the chapter you want to link to – c1 for CHAPTER ONE and so forth. The chapter headings should then hyperlink to these entries and their respective locations within the story.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. In the first option ( if you don’t manually type in the table of contents ) Then as long as you’ve booked-marked them, SmashWords will generate the TOC but will do so using the header of your story instead of the Table of Contents header. However, for me this is the preferred way as not only is it easier it will without fail link you to the correct chapter heading.

With the second option, you have more control as the TOC will appear exactly as you have type d it. However, for me the disadvantage (and this always happens ) is that the generated TOC will not link you to the beginning of each chapter but several paragraphs – and sometimes even a page – down from the chapter heading within that same chapter.

What I have also found by manually typing in the table of contents is that sometime Smashwords will lose the settings of the booked-marked chapters. I had this issue with Unto You. I used the “manually type the TOC” method and all was A OK. Then several weeks later upon checking the TOC showed the following:

Table of Contents



When you see this it means that it could not determine the chapter locations and so guessed the mid point of the story to separate it.

For these reasons (inaccurately placing you below the chapter heading and on occasion losing TOC values on the second option ) I always choose the first option – which is to bookmark the chapters and that’s it.

I let Smashwords do the rest and auto generate the TOC. As above, the only slightly downside to this is that instead of the heading Table of Contents you’ll get the heading above the chapters of Story Title ( meaning your title will appear here). Because Smashword’s metagrinder generated this then you will not see this on the submitted MS Word document so I don’t think this can be edited.

This, for me, is a small compromise to make for a much more stable and solid ( in my experience) TOC.

To be perfectly honest, there are very few people who will even notice the TOC on works of fiction, especially if your chapters are not named and so therefore are not required to convey information beyond how many chapters the story consist of. In a non-fiction book where understanding the layout and structure is important then yes, a TOC is essential. But, in a work of fiction it probably is not. No-one is going to open your book, go to the TOC in a work of fiction and think I’ll jump to chapter four and miss the first three entirely. Readers will – obviously – start at the first page and continue (hopefully ) until the reach the last page. They don’t need a TOC to tell them how to read a book that requires the reader to logically progress from page one to the end.

TOC can link to useful pages such as information about you and links to other books you have. It is understood that these would normally be at the end of the book. But, here’s the issue with having these kinds of pages at the end: Amazon especially (I’m sure that other online publishers do this) will allow you to read only the first few pages or the first specified percentage of the book. This means that any hyperlinks that would normally send you to the end of the book for useful information will not work.

This means that the reader will be able to learn more about you and other books and your webpage etc only if they purchase the book in its entirety.

Because of this, I have a link to my webpage in the Author’s note/Copyright page before page one of the eBook. That way, regardless of the percentage of the book you are permitted to download as a sample you can be sure that your links will always be included. And generally, the reader would need to tab past this section to get to page one and so increases the chance that they will see these links.

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