How I Hyperlink My Tables of Contents

I have recently published my second eBook on Smashwords.com. When I published my first eBook on their site, I had the devil’s own time of it, especially because of the difficulty in formatting, bookmarking and hyperlinking its Table of Contents, which is very important because it enables the reader to switch easily back and forth from the table of contents (ToC) to a specific chapter and back again to the table of contents.

After the third or fourth failed attempt at it, I really began to doubt that it was worth all the effort I had put into it. So, I reviewed again why Smashwords advised including a hyperlinked table of contents in the book.

Since my book was a work of non-fiction, organized into named chapters, a hyperlinked table of contents would add value to my book by enabling readers to jump from the Table of Contents and back again. So, convinced that I had no other choice in the matter, I studied all the harder how to build a hyperlinked ToC that will do as it should in the eReaders. As usual, I had no problem with bookmarking and hyperlinking the chapter headings in the ToC to the chapter headings in the text. It was getting the reader back from the chapter headings to the table of contents that wasn’t working for me.
Then, on the last reading, I discovered something that I’d been overlooking before: “Some authors prefer to link their chapter headings back up to the Table of Contents,” Smashwords CEO Mark Coker wrote, “Other authors prefer to insert other text, such as, ‘Back to Top.’”

For my second book, I chose to use “Back to Contents.” The results became the recipe for eBook Table of Contents formatting success:

This is the table of contents for that eBook:

Table of Contents

Preface: “Fleshing Out” the Life of Jesus

Part 1: A Portent of Things to Come
Chapter 1: The Conception of Jesus
Chapter 2: The Birth and Childhood of Jesus

Part 2: Jesus’ Public Ministry
Chapter 1: The Baptism of Jesus
Chapter 2: The Temptations of Jesus
Chapter 3: Jesus’ First Apostles and First Miracle
Chapter 4: Jesus’ Galilean Ministry
Chapter 5: Jesus, Healer
Chapter 6: Jesus is Rejected in His Hometown
Chapter 7: Jesus Feeds Thousands
Chapter 8: Peter Gets It about Jesus
Chapter 9: The Transfiguration of Jesus
Chapter 10: Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem
Chapter 11: Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Part 3: Jesus’ Passion & Death
Chapter 1: Jesus’ Last Seder, First Mass
Chapter 2: Jesus’ Agony and Arrest
Chapter 3: Jesus’ Criminal Trials
Chapter 4: Jesus’ Torture, Crucifixion and Death
Chapter 5: The Burial of Jesus’ Body

Part 4: Jesus’ Glorification
Chapter 1: Jesus’ Resurrection
Chapter 2: Jesus’ Other Post-Resurrection Appearances
Chapter 3: Jesus’ Ascension to the Father

Below is the formatting for the “Back to Contents” hyperlink for each chapter:

Back to Contents

Chapter 2: Jesus’ Birth and Childhood

It is spring, nearly six months since Mary’s return from the home of Zechariah and her cousin Elizabeth. Mary is well into her third trimester. Recently, Roman soldiers had come to Nazareth to announce to the townfolk there the decree of the Emperor Caesar Augustus, proclaimed byPublius Sulpicius Quirinius, who was sent by Augustus to establish a seat of . . .

This is how I learned from the Smashwords Style Guide how to bookmark and hyperlink this Table of Contents in its formatting system:

1. Type the Table of Contents
Immediately after your title/copyright page and before your other pages, type your table of contents, using Normal paragraph style, left-justified (per example above).

2. Bookmarking Individual Chapter Headings
a) Highlight the first chapter heading.
b) In MS Word, select “Insert”, then “Bookmark.”
c) Click “Bookmark.”
d) In the Bookmark window, type in the name of your first bookmarked chapter heading, without spaces or punctuation between words.
e) Click the “Add” button.
f) Repeat this procedure for each succeeding chapter heading until all are bookmarked.

3. Return to the Table of Contents Page
a) Highlight the “Table of Contents” heading at the top of the table of contents.
b) Select “Insert”, then select “Bookmark.”
c) Name this bookmark “TableofContents”, “Contents” or “ToC.”
d) Click the “Add” button.

4. Hyperlinking to Chapter Heading Bookmarks
a) In proper order, highlight each chapter heading in your Table of Contents.
b) Click “Hyperlink”
d) In Word’s hyperlink menu on the left side of the “Hyperlink” window, click “Place in This Document” to see the ToC chapter heading bookmarks in the main window’s right-hand side.
e) Select the proper bookmarked heading in the main window.
f) Click the “OK” button.
g) Repeat this procedure in sequence for each chapter heading in your ToC. Be sure that each heading in the Table of Contents has turned the color blue and is underlined.

5. Linking the Chapters Back to the Table of Contents
a) On the line at the end of each chapter, type “Back to Contents” or “Back to Top” in the Normal paragraph font, and format it as 10 pt, right-justified.
b) Highlight it
c) Click on “Insert”, then “Hyperlink”.
d) Select the small “Place in this document” window in the “Hyperlink” window.
e) Select the “Table of Contents” heading bookmark in the main “Hyperlink” window.
f) Click the “OK”, then check to see if the “Back to Contents” legend has turned the color blue and is underscored.
g) Repeat this same procedure at the end of each chapter, linking each to the “Table of Contents” (or “Contents” or “ToC”) name in the ToC, and making sure that each “Back to Contents” legend is the color blue and underscored.

6. Troubleshooting Tips
a) After all links are found to be underscored, before you test them, click Insert: Bookmark, then uncheck the box that displays “hidden bookmarks” to discover any unwanted bookmarks. Delete all the unwanted bookmarks to make your ToC work more reliably.
b) Carefully test each link to see if they’re operating properly
c) If you edit names of bookmarks or the linked text, you might damage the viability of your links;
If you have edited any, be sure to remove those former intra-document hyperlinks and re-apply them.
d) Do not use Microsoft Word’s automatic Table of Contents generation feature!!

6. Testing Your Links
a) Check to see that all links have turned the color blue and are underlined.
b) Ctrl+Click each link to make sure that each hyperlink links to where it should.

On April 14, 2011, Smashwords accepted my second eBook  into its Premium Catalog, exactly one month after they had accepted my first eBook. I believe that this method enables my eBooks  work universally in all eBook format conversion processes.

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4 thoughts on “How I Hyperlink My Tables of Contents

  1. This blog post was so informative.
    Thank you. Do you have any advice on how to create a numbered, but divided list so that it looks nice but the words line up underneath the first word, rather than the number?

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