Table of Contents : Pros and Cons

Lafayette

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I'm struggling right know trying to format my book. Paginating and table of contents are causing me to lose what hair I have left. I am wondering if I'm putting myself and others through needless toil and frustration.

I don't want my laziness and my lack of know how to be factors in producing a shoddy product. I want to give my would be readers the best product possible.
So I'm here to obtain thoughtful opinions, insight, and suggestions.

I have notice that some authors list a table of contents while others don't.. Do you pay attention to them? Are tables of contents convenient for readers? Do TO look more professional? Where do I place a TOC?

This is how I envision my book's contents:

Title Page Is always on right hand side of book.
.Copy Right page next page by its self (Does it belong on the right or left side? Does it matter?
Acknowledgements Where does this go?
Dedication Page Right or left?
Table of Contents Right or left? I have 36 chapters
Chapter one This one I know goes on the right hand side of the book.
Chapter Two and following chapters start on a clean page.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I take it you are talking about a physical book, since there is no right hand page/left hand page in an ebook.

So, in a physical book the copyright page comes on the reverse of the title page.

Acknowledgements on a right hand page, usually blank on the back.

Dedication may have it's own page, or I've seen them sometimes at the top of the copyright page.

Table of contents usually begins on a right hand page, although in some of the oldest books I own I've seen it start on a left hand page.

Chapter one begins on a right hand page.

Following chapters may be formatted in a number of different ways. Usually each new chapter starts on a fresh page, either right hand or left, depending on which would immediately follow the last page of the previous chapter. However, I have seen paperbacks where a new chapter begins on the same page where the previous one ends, with a gap of several lines between them. I'm not sure if I have ever seen any hardcover books done this way, but that may just be my failing memory.

Since there are options for some of these, why not look through some of the books you own, compare the way(s) they do the formatting, and choose what looks best to you.

_____

Whether to use a TOC is a matter of personal taste (however, if you plan to do an ebook version, I think you'll need one there, but it needs to be an active table of contents—that is, not one with page numbers, but with hyperlinks to the various chapters), but as a reader, I personally like a book to have a TOC.
 

Lafayette

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Since there are options for some of these, why not look through some of the books you own, compare the way(s) they do the formatting, and choose what looks best to you.

_____

Whether to use a TOC is a matter of personal taste (however, if you plan to do an ebook version, I think you'll need one there, but it needs to be an active table of contents—that is, not one with page numbers, but with hyperlinks to the various chapters), but as a reader, I personally like a book to have a TOC.
Yes, it is a 6 x 9 paperback. I'm also going for an e-book version which means I will seriously think on your suggestion.

The TOC question has confused me. I looked through two paperbacks and no TOCs. My e-books are a mixed bag some have a TOC and some don't. I'm leery of coping bad habits of other writer. I want to be as professional as possible as it is I expect to be hammered for my content.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Two suggestions:

1) If you want the formatting to look as professional as possible, look at books that are published by professional publishing houses of some standing. Then, as I said, follow the examples you like best.

2) If you expect (as opposed to merely fear—we all have our fears, reasonable or otherwise) to be hammered for your content, it sounds like you know in your heart that the book isn't ready. I suggest joining a good critique group that will give you valuable advice without costing you any money, finding beta readers (ditto) who are writers, too, not just friends and relatives (unless they also write), and listen to the advice these readers give you. That doesn't mean you have to follow all of it, but you should give it fair consideration, especially if anything strikes a chord, or several people spot the same thing. Then, since you are self-publishing, give yourself the same advantages that a traditionally published author has, since readers will compare your book to theirs: hire, at the least, a copy editor, and quite possibly a developmental editor before you even reach the copy editing stage. Yes, you will have to pay an editor or editors (part of the advantage of being traditionally published is that the publisher pays for things like this.) But regard them not just as editors but teachers, and realize how much you can learn from them that you can apply to future books. Again, you don't have to follow everything they say, but since you are paying for their advice it would be foolish not to give it the most serious and open-minded consideration. Many of them are not hideously expensive at all. (Look around. Get recommendations.) They are the folks who may help you avoid getting the kind of reviews that discourage you from ever writing a book again.
 

tinkerdan

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I've seen the TOC just before the first page and sometimes sandwiched between the acknowledgement and the dedication--I've even seen a dedication with an about author together with the beginning of the TOC on the back page of that. What seems universal is that the first page of the body is page 1 and is on the right and has a blank page on the left. And in word the TOC is an easy no-brain-er if you are using styles. And TOC are usually preferred in E-books so you should have one for those. For fiction you could leave those off; however if each of your chapters has an intersting title you might a be tempted to put the TOC in to encourage curiosity.

Now paginating and having headers and footers and figuring out how to use those is another matter; though if you closely examine the template-example files that amazon offers there are a lot of insight into how those are accomplished and once you establish that, you just have to make sure your sections are all conforming to the pattern.
 

Cathbad

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Could you please tell me why. I need some insight.
I use the TOC as reminders. Rather than keep trying to recall the page numbers, I can keep track with just the chapter (I am frequently going back and forth between reading and writing).

If the TOC has chapter names, more the better! Those can add some flavor to the overall story, and/or give me a hint at what's to come.

A novel just seems incomplete without them. My opinion is all, though.
 

ctg

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I really don't like it when novels don't have TOCs.
The problem with the TOC and books that doesn't have named chapter headings is that TOC is mostly useless. You get the title for the beginning of the book, the acknowledgements and the biography. So only four lines, one of them saying Table of Contents, and it takes one page. In the print that one page cost as much as a full page of text.
 

-K2-

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Personally, I insist upon two things in everything I have written from short stories to 200+k word novels. Those two things being, chapter titles and at the end of each chapter, a punch-line sentence or two that sums up the chapter and builds some anticipation of the next chapter to come.

Chapter titles, to me, beyond giving the reader a nice place to stop and pick up from (which is important IMO... though sadly in my work they tend to stop before then :cautious:), are a great place to be creative and build up a bit of curiosity and anticipation that hopefully entices the reader into reading just one more chapter.

Now I'm not an expert like most folks here, so take EVERYTHING I say with a grain of salt. But, that word 'chapter' to me is important. I read once, that a chapter should be as long as it needs to be. Okay, I buy that, however, I try to keep my chapters around 1,800-2,500 words max. Besides being meaty BUT short enough that a ready feels satisfied (and justified that they took the time) after having read it, it should leave them ready to take a break, but tempted to read more.

Some folks break up a chapter into multiple scenes. I try not to do that. Each chapter has a specific theme, though the setting may change, the characters use that movement from one set to the next to note the world/exposition, have discussions, build up anticipation and so on. In any case, there is a singular fixed theme to each chapter, and once it shifts (say character interaction to action), then it's time for a new chapter.

That final sentence hopefully helps build that anticipation and curiosity... yet the next chapter title is what I hope entices them to want to read just one more chapter.

My 1870's Western Half-Breed, at 211k words has 91 chapters. I even went so far as to break those 91 chapters up into 11-parts that also each get a title. So, they're like little novelettes, once again, all of the chapters in each part sticks to a common theme (or character evolution), and naturally each of the chapters does as well.


In my latest work, the 'ROUGH' ToC reads as follows

The Abolitionist
Liberty Stumbled ~ G8


Table of Contents:
ii. Warnings and Cautions
iii. Enhanced Reading Options
iv. Introduction
1. Home Hell Again
2. Welcome Wagon
That Smell by Lynard Skynyrd
3. That Smell
4. Habitual Cruelty
5. Retrospection Wheel ***
6. Plus One
7. Do unto Others
8. Misericorde
9. Harbinger of Rain
10. Peace
When the Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin
11. Southpaw
12. Welcome to Eden
13. Renewed Innocence
14. Revelations of Sin
For Pete’s Sake by The Monkees ~ Pogue’s Theme
15. Crush of Humanity ***
16. That Which Was
17. Deliverance from Eden
18. Sowfilly Anew
19. Liar’s Poker
20. Hermes Staff
21. Renaissance ***
22. When Monkeys Dance
23. Little Piggies
24. The Bob Knobs
Wicked Game by Chris Isaak
25. Turncoat
Everybody Wants Some by Van Halen
26. A Just Harvest
27. When Hawks Cry
28. Weight of the Masses
29. Benevolence of the Masses
30. Baptismal Justice
31. Agricultural System of Population Management ***
32. When Monsters meet Makers
33. American Cathedral
Breathe by Télépopmusik ~ Kae’s Song
34. Faces to be Forgotten
35. A Sinner’s Redemption
36. Shuttlecock
37. No Quarter
Bad Reputation by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts ~ Ode to Mop Boy
38. Principal’s Office
39. Mop Boy
40. The Mad Clown ***
41. Cocked, Locked and Lunkheads
42. Future Founders of Freedom
43. To Raze a Fallen Star
Killing Strangers by Marilyn Manson
44. Chasing the Harvest
45. A Tiger’s Cubs
46. United We Stand
47. Delicate Flower of Virtue
48. Breaking the Wheel
49. Bitter Sailing
Disparate Youth by Santigold ~ The White Tiger Theme

Appendices:
A1. Equipment of Reaper-379, Rokka-Kae (Rahk’kuh-Kay)
A2. Glossary of the Restored Constitution Federal Government
A3. Pastoral Pidgin/Slang Vocabulary
A4. South Philadelphia (exclusive) Dialect, Pastoral Pidgin/Slang Vocabulary
A5. Pastoral Pidgin Conversations Translated (by Chapter)
A6. Removable Pastoral Pidgin Conversations Translated (by Chapter)
A7. Music & Sound Credits



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