How to link your ebook’s table of contents

When reading a paperback, the table of contents gives you page numbers so that you can easily locate each chapter. Ebooks don’t have page numbers, but you can set up links in its table of contents so that with the tap of a screen, readers can go directly to the beginning of that chapter.

Creating a linked table of contents is fairly easy, albeit tedious. Indeed, a table of contents in book with 50 chapters can require up to an hour to set up. Taking the time to create a linked table of contents, however, is worth the effort, especially if you’ve written nonfiction. As well as making the reading experience easier, it indicates a level of sophistication that carries over to acceptance of your text’s validity. So put on your headphones, listen to your favorite tunes, and prepare to get into rhythm.

If using Microsoft Word, follow these steps to create a linked table of contents:
• On the document that will be your ebook, write a table of contents devoid of page numbers.
• Copy and paste this table of contents to a Notepad document. Delete any spaces between the letters and all punctuation marks. For example, “Chapter 1: Conflict” would look like “Chapter1Conflict”.
• Set up your screen so that you can see both the Word document that will be your ebook and the Notepad document.
• Go to the Word document that will be your ebook. Scroll down your text to the first item that your table of contents listed (We’ll presume it’s “Chapter 1”). Click the cursor before its header.
• In the command ribbon, click “Insert”. Then at the center of the new ribbon, under “Link”, click “Bookmark”.
• A pop-up window will appear. From your Notepad document, copy the corresponding line (In our case, this would be “Chapter1Conflict”) and paste it in the window below “Bookmark name:”. Click “Add”. You have now bookmarked a spot in your text.
• Staying on your Word document, scroll back up to the table of contents. Highlight all of the words that make up the first line in your table of contents (or “Chapter 1: Conflict”).
• In the command ribbon under “Link”, click “Hyperlink”. A pop-up window will appear; on its left side, under “Link to”, click “Place in this document”.
• The window at the center will change to list all the bookmarks you’ve made. Locate the wording that corresponds with this line in your table of contents, click it, and then hit “OK” at the lower right of the pop-up window.
• Returning to the Word document that is your ebook, you’ll see that the wording in your table of contents is now in blue and underlined. It is hyperlinked to the bookmarked spot in your document.
Click the link to see if it takes you there. If it does, repeat the steps above for the next line in your table of contents. If it doesn’t work, that means either it wasn’t bookmarked or hyperlinked properly.

After you’ve bookmarked and hyperlinked a couple of chapter titles so that you’re familiar with the steps, you can speed up the process by making all of your bookmarks then going back and hyperlinking all of them. This saves you the trouble of scrolling back and forth between the bookmarked spot and the table of contents.

Always test your hyperlinks. Making a mistake is very easy to do, and you don’t want one to appear in print. Should you make a mistake, simply highlight the hyperlink and bookmark it; before doing so, you may need to place the bookmark in the correct spot.

This same process can be used to create other bookmarks in your ebook. For example, if writing a travel guidebook, you might provide a list of must-see sights. The sights in the list could be hyperlinked back to the spot in the book where they are fully described.