Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to make a clickable table of contents in Microsoft Word

This is how I make my table of contents for Smashwords and Amazon.  If you would like to see how they work, you can download my first novel “Rojuun” for free.  (links at the bottom of this tutorial)

I would like to note that this is a tutorial on how I do it.  I’d say there’s more than one way to skin a cat, but that’s just mean and my children will beat me up if I do.

Table of Contents

Here is a screenshot of what my hyperlinked table of contents looks like in my first novel.  As you can see, all the chapters have the blue, underlined hyperlinky effect.  (That is the official term)

You may notice that it says “Compatibility Mode” at the top of the document.  Smashwords doesn’t play well with Word 2007 and 2010, so I save everything as a Word 97-2003 document.  I’m using Word 2010, but I originally did this with Word 2003.  The process is the same, but Word 2010 has that ribbon thingy Bill Gates is so proud of at the top.

I like the left aligned table as shown here.  You could center it if you like, it’s a personal choice.  You’ll notice that I have my maps on there too.  If you have maps, I highly recommend it.

Okay, so now we get to how to make all of this. 

Make a Table of Contents.

We’ll start with this:

Nothing is hyperlinked, just written out.


The first thing you want to do is create a bookmark.  Select “Table of Contents” and then go to your ‘Insert’ tab.  Click on ‘Bookmark’ in that ribbon:

and you will get a screen like this:

Type in ref_TOC  Then click “Add”  It is important to name it exactly that, because that’s what Smashwords Meatgrinder looks for.  I have this in all of my books with a table of contents.

Chapter Headings

Okay, the next thing you want to do is make a Chapter 1.  Use Heading 2 and set up the style as you like it.  I personally use 16pt Times New Roman with an underline.

Now it’s time to bookmark Chapter 1  Do it exactly the same way, but let’s name it title_chap01.  ‘title’ will be a unique identifier for the name of your book.  ‘chap01” is because it’s chapter 1.

The reason I name mine ‘roj_chap1’ instead of just ‘chapter1’ is because “Rojuun” is the first book of a trilogy.  I sell an omnibus with all three books of the trilogy.  The table of contents has ‘roj_chap1’, ‘ani_chap1’ (“Anilyia” is the second book), and ‘ket_chap1’ (“Kethril” is the third book).

Creating the links

Now it’s time to hyperlink the table of contents to the chapter.  Select ‘Chapter 1” in the table of contents, go to the insert tab and click on ‘Hyperlink’

You will get a screen like this:

On the left, you want to ‘Link to:’  “Place in this Document”.  That will bring up your bookmarks.  Select ‘title_chap1’ (or whatever you call your chapter 1) and click OK.  That will make your blue hyperlinky Chapter 1 in the table of contents.

If you click on it, it will take you to the beginning of chapter 1.  Repeat this step for every chapter and you will have a working table of contents.  You can do the same thing for your maps too.  Select the map, the same way you did the chapter and add a bookmark to it.  I name mine ‘map_ryallon’.  Then hyperlink ‘Map of Ryallon’ in the Table of Contents (or whatever you call your map.

Linking your chapters back to the Table of Contents.

This is a wonderful tool for the reader to get back to the beginning of the book, especially if they want to be able to glance at the map and then return back to the chapter they’re on.

For this, you want to select the Chapter 1 heading and select hyperlink:

This time, select ‘ref_TOC’ as the place to link it to.  That will link it back to the Table of Contents.  You can do this with every chapter.  You get an underlined chapter heading.  (It’s purple now instead of blue because I’ve clicked on them)

Hidden bookmarks.

I discovered that clicking on hyperlinks within a document creates hidden bookmarks, like this:

The ‘Hlt…….’ Bookmarks are the hidden ones.  They are unnecessary and take up extra space, so before I publish, I always delete all of those.

In conclusion.

So that’s the basics.  If you want to test the links, just press shift and left click the mouse.  This works wonderfully on the Kindle Touch and Fire, which I’ve been able to test.  I hope this helps for you too.

Here are the links to Rojuun:

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/31154?ref=johnhcarroll

All my best,

John H. Carroll
With assistance from multiple emo bunnies.


Unknown said...

Very informative, thank you. I have bookmarked it for future reference. :)

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Mark,

That's excellent. I hope it helps.

Thank you for stopping by. :)


Chris Hibbard said...

very nice. Been having troubles w/ TOC in Smashwords, this will be my 3rd try (w/ your advice). I did not bookmark my TOC as "ref_TOC" before, and only the PDF Smashwords created worked right--the others, only ~1/3 of the links worked... :(


John H. Carroll said...

Hi Chris!

I know how hard it is and ran into numerous troubles my first try. I hope this helps and that you're successful.

As a word of encouragement, once you get everything down, it becomes easier each time. :) I almost know what I'm doing now that I have my 16th book done. ;)

Gouri said...

Thanks for the post it really helped!
We are about to publish our firms 1st kindle book.

Good luck with your upcoming books.

Anonymous said...

You are very welcome, Gouri.

Best of luck with yours! I hope it does well. :)


PTL! said...

Ah, thank you so much for this very helpful post. Steam was beginning to come out of my ears trying to get my contents sorted!

John H. Carroll said...

You are very welcome, Mandy. :)

It can get very confusing, so I'm really glad I was able to help cut down on the surplus steam. :D


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much John! I am about to write my first e-book and this was a source of frustration for me. I already tested it and it the TOC links worked like a charm.

Thank again!


AJ King

Anonymous said...

You are very welcome, AJ. It took me a long time to figure out too. There's so much that goes into formatting a book. I'm happy to help in any way I can. :)

Anonymous said...

Will your link system work for an Adobe PDF eBook format?
I plan to convert a Word 2003 file and make it available as a download from my WordPress.org site.

Would converting from Word 2003 to Adobe PDF disrupt the link?

Thank you for the post.


Anonymous said...

I would save the Word 2003 file as "web page, filtered". Then convert that. The table of contents remained in mine when I converted to PDF.

I used Calibre to convert. I'm not sure how it will work if you're using Adobe to do the converting, but it should do just fine.

Anonymous said...

Tech Challenged Says Thank You!

John H. Carroll said...

You are very welcome. :)

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this.. It's really helpful.

Anonymous said...

You are very welcome. :)

Epic-_-KG said...

Hey John this is excellent, I have done this and doulbe check the instructions twice to ensure that i can jump from the table of content to the specified chapter and also the "back to top" option works as well when tested in Microsoft word which is great...I have now publish my book and the hyperklinks shows up blue and underline on the smashwords site but when I click link for both the chapter and the back to top option nothing happens...can u tell me what i did wrong?

Thank you

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Epic-_-KG,

I'm not sure. It sounds as though the link didn't find the bookmark. Can you give me a link to the book on Smashwords? I'll download it and see if I can tell what happened. :)

John H. Carroll said...

Oh! Wait, I think I know what it is. If you look at the online reading version, none of those links work for any book in Smashwords. I don't know why they don't make the online reading version work.

The ones it will work for are the Kindle and epub versions. It should also work on the pdf version. :)

Epic-_-KG said...

Hey John Thx...I'll check it out...I don't know why they would make me go threw all that if it doesn't cover all formats.
Thx again

John H. Carroll said...

You're very welcome. :)

btw, the reason your posts don't show up right away is because I check all comments before they appear. I've been getting a lot of spam lately.

Good luck with your book.

Rachelle said...

Your information was fantastic and easy to follow. Definitely made my project go easier!


John H. Carroll said...

Hi Rachelle!

I'm really glad it helped. :)

Doc Nebula said...

Huge thanks. I was going crazy trying to figure out how to do this. I'm using Open Office so I had to adapt your instructions, but you definitely put me on the right track. You are Teh Awesome.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot! this is exactly what I needed!! however, i have a small issue, I've bookmarked all the headings of my thesis and now when I try to hyperlink the TOC, I don't get that list of bookmarks, I need to type the names one by one, there must be something wrong!! only when I type the full name correctly does the list appear…why??? :(

Unknown said...

Worked perfectly for my work. Thanks a bunch.

Unknown said...

It worked perfectly for me. Give it a trial.

Dave Leigh said...

Thanks for this. So helpful!

Question: Is there a way to keep the title from changing color once clicked? I'm able to remove the underline and make the original text black instead of blue, but it still turns purple once it's clicked. I'm using Word 2010.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi David,

You're welcome!

And yes, you can change the color. 1. Go to the page layout tab on your ribbon.
2. At the top left is "Themes", next to it is "colors". Click on that.
3. At the bottom of the drop down menu that appears is "Create New Theme Colors". Click on that.
4. The last selection is "Followed Hyperlink". You can click on the color box and change it to whatever you want, including the original blue color. :)

I hope that helps.

Rick Hageman said...

Thanks so much for this-

I'm a Senior Mechanical Designer and usually deal with 3D modeling and fluid flow software.

This was invaluable in writing a complicated software procedure with illustrations. It got to several chapters with 30 captioned figures. It is to be distributed in PDF form to the designers.

Without the organizational capabilities of Word learned here, it would be difficult at best to get anyone to pore through a 20+ page technical document.


Rick Hageman
Cosmodyne, LLC

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Rick,

You're very welcome. :) The procedure sounds complicated enough! I'm glad I could help.

Akorede said...

What an helpful tutorial. Very concise and direct.


Sanj said...

Hi John,

Thank you very much for your efforts in this post. It is perfect for those writing a book.

John, my document is a bit different - it is a business plan that will likely be close to 100 pages when it is said and done. I was wondering if you could help me to create a table of contents that is linked to the page numbers for each heading in such a context?

Would really appreciate it!



John H. Carroll said...

Hi Sanj!

Yes, I can help. Use this tutorial instead: http://ryallon.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-add-table-of-contents-for-amazon.html

On step 6, I say to uncheck the part where you have page numbers. Ignore that step and you will get page numbers, exactly as you like. :)

Ifeoma Samuel said...

Thank you so much. God bless you. This is easy to use. I had to bookmark your blog.
you are the best.

John H. Carroll said...

You are very welcome, Ifeoma. :)

Billy D Manus II said...

Your explanation of creating a linked TOC is smoother that butter. Thank you!

Ella said...

I am created a index at the top of a long document. First I created the bookmarks and then made them hyperlinks ("place in this document")and saved - they are now blue and underlined...but go NOWHERE. There is no little hand symbol or color change when I move the cursor over them. (The bookmarks do work, but using them is tedious.) Any ideas what the problem may be??

Anonymous said...

So helpful. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for putting this up! I'm creating a TOC and for formatting reasons, my chapter names have been made headings and I can't hyperlink to them in the toc formatted that way. When I change them to heading 1 I lose the formatting of the chapter names if. There's got to be a way for this to work so hopefully it will with bookmarks.

Anonymous said...

Truant you so much for posting this tutorial. I managed to get my book accepted by Smashwords first try.


John H. Carroll said...

You are very welcome. Well done! :)

Ann said...


Your instructions are fantastic. Thank you and I am grateful! I didn't get the TOC to show up on the Kindle "Go To" screen. The Contents page itself shows up if I scroll the pages, e.g., from the beginning. Do you know how to get the TOC to show from the Kindle Go To screen? I downloaded Rjuun and will be looking forward to read! Thank you!


John H. Carroll said...

Hi Ann,

Yes, it's a slightly different process. Give me a week and I'll respond with the details. :)

Ann said...

Thanks, I appreciate it, John!

Anonymous said...

Your explanation of creating a linked TOC is the best one I found, this really helped me. Thank you.

John H. Carroll said...

You're very welcome. :)

Anonymous said...

Hello John,

Need your help in fixing my word...

I am using Word 2010. First page is blank. Each page after that has new heading.

Followed the steps but its not working.. It shows me hyperlink but does not jumps to next page.

John H. Carroll said...

Hello Anonymous,
Add a Table of contents to the first page and add a bookmark to it. You can link the page headings back to that.

If you want the hyperlink to go to the next page, then you can link the hyperlink from the page's heading title to the next page's heading.

Cari Jean said...

You are both funny and helpful! Your instructions made me laugh and they also came in very handy when setting up the TOC for my first e-book.

Nancy Joy said...

Hi John,

Well, I am desperate! I have already created the TOC with styles and it works beautifully. However, I want to be able link back and forth from TOC to the body of work and back. This is a cake baking ebook with no photos. There will be more on my website. I am having trouble creating bookmarks. Thanks for any help.

Nancy Joy

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Nancy. You should be able to highlight the word you want to hyperlink to, go to the insert tab, and select bookmark. Once you've done that, you can name it anything you want. Then, on the word that you're hyperlinking from, hyperlink within the document and select the bookmark.

If that doesn't clarify it, give me a little more detail and we'll try to figure it out. :)

Nancy Joy said...

Hello John and Happy New Year!

Am trying so hard to hyperlink my wonderful ebook...ha! Have been through many different files to hyperlink since we talked.
To date,should I link from the table of contents first or from the contents first back to the table of contents? And, what if one link works and the next one does not?
By files, I mean, those I have work on and tried to make the links work easier or better. Why is is so marginal that the process should not be the same for all links?
Please contact me, if necessary. Thanks so much, Nancy Joy

Nancy Joy said...

Hello John and Happy New Year!
Please let me clarify something. I have not done to well to date in linking...ha! Should I first link from the TOC to the content, or link first from the content to the TOC, or does it matter. And, I find it helpful if I press the name or location button if one or the other does not work. Please, please clarify any of the aforementioned.....ha!ha!
I have so many files now with elongated names...HahHa

Unknown said...

I am trying to add tables for competition fixtures for snooker in the first row after the header I want to have player name, the. In column 3,5,7 have the frame score 1-2 then in row 2 columns 2,4,6 have points scored between both frames with a diagonal border between top left corner on row 1 column on column 3,5,7 and bottom right of row 2 column 2,4,6 with the cells of column 2 & 3, 4 & 5, 6 & 7 of each row merged and row 1 & 2 mergedto show data correct.
Displayed as:
Column 1. 2 3. 4. 5. 6. 7
Row 1 Iain Wallwork 2 1 0
Row 2 130 77 109

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Anonymous said...

Woulld it work if I simply hyperlinked everything with the chapter titles without bookmarking them first? It eliminates one step and so faster and easier. thanks

John H. Carroll said...

@Bala Murali Krishna,

Yes, it would. I've switched to doing that as well in my books. I believe you have to have the chapters formatted in one of the heading styles to do so.

John H. Carroll said...

@Abiya Carol

I believe what you want to accomplish would work far better in an Excel document

John H. Carroll said...

@Nancy Joy,

I apologize for not answering you. Life this year has been in upheaval. If you are still having issues, please let me know and I will respond.

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