Making a linked Table of Contents with screenshots

How to make your Table of Contents manually, yet quick!

This is derived from the Smashwords ( Style Guide that Mark Coker wrote for formatting your eBook to their specifications. The specifications that would allow you to fast-track your way through the premium distribution. Well, not technically fast-track. Just make it through. Personally, I find that building my TOC with the way it is described in the Style Guide, takes me a few hours. I suggest you first read up on the Smashwords tutorial ( so that most of this makes sense. You don’t have to, but Mark explains why we name things certain ways, and more. So it helps.

Doing it this way?

30 minutes or less. Depends on how many mistakes I make, whether I tune out and screw up, or if I’m distracted. Distracted = 30 minutes. This is to shorten the time it takes, but not the quality. Make sure you pay attention to what you’re doing. If you mess up, you will spend 2-3 times as much time, having to come back and redo the entire thing. We want to do this right the first time.

This is complicated when you first read it through. I’ve compiled screen shots to help guide you. This again, is how I do it. And I use Microsoft Word 2010.

Gasp! Yes, that is the only thing I use. The keyboard shortcuts may not be correct if you use something else so you may have to find the ones that work for you. This can be used for a fiction or non-fiction book.


I make my TOC a small font size. Typical font in the MS is 12-pt. I use 9-pt for my TOC. Since it’s a regular book and not something that someone will need a TOC for, yet is required for publishing, I make it small so it doesn’t waste more space than it has to. For a non-fiction that readers need the TOC for, I’d suggest leaving it the base font size (12-pt). That being said, let’s get started!

First I insert a cover image as one page (in case a site like Barnes and Noble doesn’t receive the cover when it’s sent from Smashwords), title page, then TOC page. So 3rd page. Start there.


Below that, write out all your chapters as you see fit. I prefer just writing them out. One, Two, Three. Sometimes I get creative and do all capitals! Or when I do “twenty one,” I don’t place the dash, or I get really creative, and do “twenty-one.” Fancy, eh? Again, I don’t think it matters so do what you like. I don’t think I have to say this, but when you do write the chapters out, make a new line.


TABLE OF CONTENTS (I sometimes underline, sometimes not.)

Next, highlight the entire TOC title. Add bookmark. In the navigation bar, you can find it under: Insert > Links > Bookmark. Or just Insert > Bookmarks as you see in my screenshot below. The keyboard shortcut I use (again, Windows user, I have Window 7 right now) for inserting bookmark is to hold down Ctrl and Shift, then hit F5. That will bring up the same I mentioned above, without using the mouse. Cuts down on more time.

Now, also in the screenshot above, you’ll see that there is a Hyperlink button. Pay attention to that placement, because that is the other main button/link you’ll need to make your TOC.  It’s technically called a hyperlinked TOC, but I am shortening the term for brevity purposes.

After highlighting the TOC, bring up the bookmark window, then enter “ref_TOC” [no quotation marks]

EXTRA: If you’re doing this for Kindle, and want to make sure Amazon links to your Table of Contents, look at the extra screenshot below. Notice how my cursor is clicked at the beginning of the Table Of Contents? Bring up the bookmark window at that spot, then enter “toc” [no quote marks] and click add. That small thing alone, will tell Amazon this is where the TOC is located so Amazon’s navigation will send the reader there when clicked.


Now, let’s begin with the rest of the Chapter Headings. We needed that first ref_TOC to help us work our way through so we don’t have to come back and forth, which for me produces headaches. This method doesn’t induce the pain and nausea. Don’t ask me why, I’m just that way. I try to find ways of avoiding all that.

Go to your first Chapter Heading. Typically CHAPTER ONE. My screenshots are all for Chapter Five, so just be aware of that. I didn’t start at chapter five, it’s only the screenshots that are at five. I don’t want to confuse anyone.

Here we are with the cursor, once more at the beginning. Place the cursor (and click) as I did, so that the cursor is at the very beginning of Chapter Title.

Bring up your Insert > Bookmark window (Ctrl + Shift + F5). Write out your chapter title. You only need the title so you can find it and link later.

No spaces are allowed. So even up at 21, you’ll do “twentyone.” This is for the links. Don’t do fancy. Do simple. I simply do: “one,” “two,” “three,” “four,” “five,” etc.

You can see some of the others I have up there. Ignore those for now. Just focus on your: “one,” “two,” “three,” “four,” “five,” etc. Type it in, then click add.

Bookmark placed!
[happy dance]

As you go along, you’ll encounter the above. Those are what cause you trouble in Smashwords. Those are hidden bookmarks that Word can place into your MS without you knowing, and mess everything up. Notice that I have the box marked “hidden bookmarks” checked. Clicking one of the bullets will bring them up, but as I have it, they will naturally show up. Every time that you see anything marked, “_Hlt” go ahead and delete those.

What I do now is to delete them, then move on to entering the bookmark name, and clicking add. Otherwise when you click add the window closes and you have to reopen. To delete one, click the name to highlight, then click delete. Done. Now you can add your bookmark. That will save you a lot of deletions later on. Otherwise, in the Smashwords Style Guide, you’ll see that Mark mentions to delete them at the end. I have accidentally deleted bookmarks when I was removing those ones and went CRAP!

Uh hunh. Said it out loud even. So I have discovered that deleting those suckers as I go is much easier, and less destructive. Otherwise you will have a LOT to delete later on. But they will still have to be deleted.

Next, highlight your chapter title as below.

Now bring up Insert > Hyperlink (remember the mention of it?). Or to use a shortcut like I do, it’s hold down Ctrl, then hit K (Ctrl +K).

Now Link to > Place in this document, and then scroll down to find your “ref_TOC” you made earlier. As screenshot below.

Click on “ref_TOC,” under the “bookmarks” list, and then click OK (as you go along, you’ll have to scroll down the list to find it). Done! Linked to original “Table of Contents” that you did the first step. Pat that back. You did good!

When you hover over Chapter One (in my screenshot above it’s Chapter Five) you will see the popup which states that you can hold down Ctrl and then click the mouse on it to go to the link. Test that link. If you did it right, you will be brought to the beginning of your Table of Contents on that 3rd page (or whatever page you placed the TOC on.)

If it worked, congratulations! Woohoo to you!

If not, go back and read, then try again. Make sure you do the steps correct or you’ll end up with a bunch of funkiness and have to do the nuclear method again. (Read Smashwords Style Guide for what that means.) I tend to call it the “purge” so if that slips, that is what I mean.

Now that you’re up in the main Table of Contents listing, you are proceeding (if you’ve done correct up to this point) to now link the chapter heading within the TOC, to the chapter heading in your book. So that when you (or the reader) clicks on Chapter One in the TOC, they will be taken to Chapter One, Two, etc., in the book. From there they can click on the Chapter Heading and return BACK to the main TOC.

Let’s continue. Highlight the chapter you just did the bookmark and hyperlink from. In this case, mine is Chapter Five See below.

You should be highlighting Chapter One, since that is where you are at from all of the above steps. Now that you’ve highlighted Chapter One, open up the Hyperlink window. Insert > Hyperlink. Or keyboard shortcut again is: Ctrl+K.

Make sure you’re on the “Place In This Document” window pane, and then scroll down to find your Chapter One that you just made a bookmark for. Remember, this is the hyperlink that will take you TO the Chapter, which means the bookmark you just made. In this case, it is showing Chapter Five because that was what I was working on. You will be looking for Chapter One.

Now that you’ve clicked on the chapter title (five in my case, one in yours), then click on OK. Great!

Hover over it and you’ll see the above screenshot if you’ve done everything correct. It will say in the popup, where the link is to take you. At this point, you can double-check it by holding down Ctrl on the keyboard, and then clicking the mouse on it. You should be taken to your chapter. If all is correct, yay you!! Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for that one.

At this point, just scroll down through the manuscript to Chapter Two, follow all the above steps once more, and it should go much faster soon enough. What you’re doing in all the steps above is combining every single separate step that is mentioned in the Smashwords Style Guide, into one giant leap. If you do it carefully and make sure to follow, you can complete the linked TOC within no time.

NOTE: The special bookmarks that Kindle wants for the navigation is to place “start” (without quotations) where you want the reader to start readin (very beginning of first sentence of first chapter in book), then “toc” (without quotations) at the start of the TOC, and the “cover” (no quotations) on the cover. If you don’t have a cover, just ignore, otherwise I do the cover bookmark by simply clicking ON the actual image, then clicking the Hyperlink option (or keyboard Ctrl + Shift + F5) to place.

You’re done!

Any questions or confuseled points that you need me to go over?

And for the millionth time, here is the link to the Smashwords Style Guide – – which will explain everything else in-depth. I will make more of these tutorials with screenshots as we go along. From start-to-finish. That way you can use them along WITH the book above to really help you out. What other tutorials would you like? Any of the formatting process you’d like one on? Let me know in the comments.

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