How to Add a Simple Table of Contents in Kindle Books

I’m going to be honest and admit that I don’t have a table of contents in my books, or at least I haven’t manually put one in. But, a fellow author got a notice from Amazon that some of you may have gotten:

Your book doesn’t have a Table of Contents. A table of contents provides readers with both easy navigation and improved visibility into the contents of the book.  Please see https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A2BQILI6OJWLTC for help with creating and formatting a Table of Contents.

So, I thought this might be a good time to discuss HOW to make a table of contents using Word. (I assume other word processing programs are similar but I haven’t used them, so I don’t know.)

There are probably multiple ways to go about this, (for how to use headers, check out THIS POST)  but here is what I did:

1. Since my chapters don’t have names, I just typed them up after all of the copyright info

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 2. Then I went through the book and made bookmarks at each chapter. To make a bookmark, place your cursor next to your chapter title/heading:

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Then go to Insert> Bookmark

(this is what it looks like in Word 2010)

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You’ll get a pop up box. Type in some identifying name that you can remember. Chapter1 or chapterone would be the easiest. Then click the Add button.

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The box disappears. Repeat for all the chapters, including any prologues, afterwords, introductions, about the author sections, acknowledgements, etc.

When I was done, I went back to that Table of Contents I had added at the beginning and hyper-linked it.

To do that, highlight “Chapter One” then go to Insert>Hyperlink 

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OR Right Click and choose Hyperlink from the menu:

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This will give you a pop up box. Choose the Bookmark button:

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A second box will pop up. Choose the matching bookmark (aka Chapter One – chapter1) and click OK.

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The second box will disappear and you’ll notice that in the address bar it now says #- whatever your bookmark is named. Technically, I suppose you could manually type your bookmark titles in there, but I always worry about a typo, so I go ahead and choose it from the list. Hit OK

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Your text will now be hyperlinked:

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Repeat for the remaining chapters.

But what if you’ve done all of this, uploaded it and got this response form Amazon?

The Table of Contents isn’t accessible from the “Go To” menu in your book.

Huh? What does this mean? It means that on the kindle, when a reader clicks the menu while in your book the Table of Contents is not showing up under the menu that says “Go to…” There is an easy way to fix this in word. Remember those bookmarks we just made? Go to your table of contents and put the cursor next to the heading, or next to the top entry if you don’t have a heading, and then make a bookmark named TOC:

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click add and reupload to KDP .

Before you upload, be sure to click through your table of contents to make sure that each link goes where you want it to. It might take a couple of extra minutes, but it could save you a lot of frustration and embarrassment later on.

If this doesn’t work for you, try the other method, using headers.

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If you have books on Kindle, do you have a table of contents in them or are you “living on the edge” and waiting for Amazon to make you add one in?

Categories: Amazon store, Book Formatting, Self-Publishing

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31 thoughts on “How to Add a Simple Table of Contents in Kindle Books

  1. Before I decided to try self-publishing I took a class on formatting. That is how I learned to do it, but I’ve heard some people get upset if it takes up a lot of the sample So I make mine look like this:

    Table of Contents
    Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 etc. Readers Letter, Excerpts, Coming books etc.

    At most, it takes 2 or 3 sentence lines

  2. Reblogged this on Oregonmike98.

  3. This is just a new way to complicate matters. Since I was a member of KDP (I have closed my account due to sales issues) I never had to add a ToC before. But now they require a ToC even if the printed book does not have one? No, it smacks of just more work for the author/publisher, which does not really matter to the reader anyway.

    • I’m still eeking by without one in my series – I don’t exactly write the kind of stuff people would need to access specific chapters in – like reference books or such. My short story collection has one, though I don’t know if I did the TOC thing for it, so I imagine the day will come when they send me that nasty letter! I have a tenuous relationship with them, I admit, since they informed me that they got the final say on my book prices…

  4. Thanks. I’m still not sure if it’s necessary. I’ve been going along without one, but I have noticed it makes it easier for reading.

  5. Reblogged this on Legends of Windemere and commented:
    How to Make a Table of Contents for Kindle

  6. I haven’t seen any indication that a TOC is actually a requirement, and until it is, I’ll probably ignore it. Unless you name your chapters, there’s no need for a TOC in a novel, even less for digital than for print. It’s so easy to place a bookmark at chapter beginnings if you really need them. Yes, some readers prefer a TOC. But since when do readers determine how a book is written and published?

  7. For my novels, I don’t use a TOC, seeing as I don’t name the chapters. I think that TOCs work better for authors who do name their chapters, like JK Rowling or textbook writers.

    • I agree, or reference books. Otherwise in a plain fiction novel, the average reader isn’t going to be looking up a specific chapter

  8. I see absolutely no reason for a work of fiction to have a TOC. It makes sense more for books where you are looking for particular things. Like I’ve been thinking of doing a recipe book, and it would make sense to have one for that. With fiction, you read in a linear fashion, so you wouldn’t be jumping around. If Amazon starts requiring it, then I’ll do it.

    I’m definitely keeping your tutorial. I figured out how to do this once, but then I needed this very thing here at my full time job, and I completely forgot how. It’s nice to have this tutorial. Thanks for showing us how!

    • You’re very welcome! I was looking for how to get the ToC to show in the “go to menu” and found virtually nothing on it… i finally emailed amazon about it!

  9. Thanks Joleene! :) I’m currently working on a file for Smashwords, and I was wondering how to make a TOC. (The manual was a little confusing.) I’m printing this article so I’ll always have it.

  10. I agree with Rami and Lauralynn. I don’t see why a novel would be required to have a Table of Contents. I think it should be left to the author’s discretion.

  11. Pingback: How to Add a Simple Table of Contents in Kindle Books | leftgroup

  12. I use Word 10. I format my chapters with Heading 1 and that generates the NCX Amazon requires.

  13. Amazon has sent me a couple of these emails, too, and I have had to go and put a TOC in. Now I don’t dare format without a TOC in place. I believe Smashwords suggests a TOC as well, though they don’t seem to be demanding it.

    There’s a big fuss among some writers about books being professional if they have a TOC, and this demand for a TOC stems from writers, not readers. I have yet to get one email from one of my readers who were upset if there was no TOC. But a couple of writers have let me know that a TOC is prudent to have. Myself? I think a TOC in fiction is a waste of time. I never use it when I read a book unless I’m reading nonfiction and want to jump to a specific topic. But in fiction? Nope. It’s just one more thing to do. In my day, we called it “busy work” because it served no real purpose.

    I don’t think this TOC is limited to Amazon. I think this is a future trend. I don’t see much of a choice but to put them in our future books.

    Thanks for the tutorial, Joleene! I got it to work on my Microsoft computer but not my Apple, and I have Word 2010 on both computers. I can do the bookmark and even the hyperlink looks right, but when I click on the TOC’s Chapter One, it says Word can’t find it. I have no problems with this on my Microsoft computer.

    • I got an email from someone else who said it didn’t work for them, so I contacted amazon and they sent me a link to a complicated way of doing it. I am trying to streamline it down for a second post right now, so hopefully ti will work on apples.

      I think a lot of things we do as writers is dictated by other writers, rather than readers, and it’s interesting to me how often we wrap ourselves and our opinions of our books up in other writer’s comments when it;s the readers we’re writing for in the first place. I think Amazon just likes to complicate things, personally.

  14. Thank you for the lesson. I’m working on formatting my book, so it’s good to know now that I’ll need a Table of Contents. I honestly was going to avoid that issue, thinking it wasn’t necessary.

    Keep smiling,
    Yawatta

  15. Reblogged this on yawattahosby and commented:
    Found an informative blog post for authors needing help adding a Table of Contents to their ebooks. It’s an easy step-by-step guide, including pictures.

  16. Thank you so much, Joleene. I tried to figure out how to do the TOC but I admit I just couldn’t. Your explanation seems simple. Hmmmm…so far Amazon hasn’t emailed me. Does this mean I need to re-do all my ebooks with them and upload them again? Ahhhhhhh!!!!!

    • I’m not going to add it to mine until I get a nasty letter. That may not be the best way to go, so I think until they demand you do it, it;s up to you.

  17. Thanks so much for this. I knew how to add a table of contents but not with the hyperlinks. Very handy!

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