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10/96 How To: Applications

Navigating Your Documents Can Be a Breeze

Chart a course through your masterpiece with a table of contents.

By Jim Boyce

Page after page-or screen after screen-of information can be overwhelming and difficult to absorb, no matter how well written and organized. A detailed map can help readers navigate your document and find the information you've compiled so painstakingly. And creating that map doesn't have to be a pain in the you-know-what: With only a few mouse clicks you can produce a complete, formatted table of contents (TOC) for a document of any length. I'll use Microsoft Word to show you how. (The process is similar in Lotus Word Pro and WordPerfect.)

The first step in creating your TOC is applying paragraph styles to your document. Styles let you specify which parts of a document to include in the TOC and how much each section will be indented. If you're not familiar with styles, here's a quick primer to bring you up to speed.

A style is a collection of format settings that apply to a paragraph. A style's variables can include font, indents, spacing, language, borders, shading and so on. When you define a style, you assign a name to a group of settings that will apply to the paragraph. If you're writing the next big-screen thriller, for example, you could create a template containing "screenplay" styles-dialogue, direction and so forth. To write a few lines of dialogue, you'd simply select the dialogue style and the word processor would automatically format the paragraph with the proper indentation, font and other characteristics.

Let's say you're creating a computer manual for company employees in this particular example. Assume the manual's first chapter is called "Setting Up Your PC." Within this chapter are sections titled "Power Supply" and "Troubleshooting."

You can create your own styles for this manual, but it's probably easiest to use those included with your default template. Word provides a variety of predefined styles. Select Format/Style to open the Style dialog box, and make sure you have access to all styles by selecting All Styles from the drop-down menu under List and then clicking on Apply.

To apply a style to the title of the manual's first chapter ("Setting Up Your PC"), highlight the title and select Style from the Format menu. Next, choose Heading 1 from the Styles list. Repeat this process to apply the Heading 2 style to the title of each sub-chapter ("Power Supply" and "Troubleshooting"). The title with the Heading 1 style will appear leftmost in the TOC, with the Heading 2 titles indented underneath. If you had subsections within "Troubleshooting," they could be designated Heading 3 and so on.

To apply a style to a paragraph in the computer manual, select the paragraph and choose Format/Style. Next, select a style from the list, and then click on Apply. For this example, use the Body Text style for your paragraphs.

Now you're ready to create that TOC. To include a TOC in a Word document, place the cursor where you want the TOC to be inserted (typically at the beginning of the file), then pull down the Insert menu and select Index and Tables. In the Index and Tables dialog box, click on the Table of Contents tab. From the Formats list, choose the style of TOC you want. Word will apply paragraph and font formatting to the TOC table according to your selection. If you want Word to apply your document's default paragraph style to the TOC, choose the From Template option.

The fab four controls

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Content King

Next, use the four controls at the bottom of the Index and Tables dialog box to specify options for the TOC. Enable the Show Page Numbers check box if you want the page number listed for each heading. Enable the Right Align Page Numbers check box to have the page numbers aligned at the right edge of the TOC. Use Show Levels to choose how many levels to include in the TOC. Finally, if the TOC style you've selected supports tab leaders, choose the desired entry from the Tab Leader drop-down list. This is the character, if any, that will separate the page numbers from the heading.

Now, click on the Options button to display the Table of Contents Options dialog box. Make sure the Styles check box is enabled, then scroll through the available styles and locate the Heading 1 style. You'll find that Word has already assigned the appropriate TOC level to the style. If you're basing your TOC on other styles, locate the styles and assign to them the appropriate levels. To do this, click on the TOC Level text box next to the style, then type the level number (1, 2, 3 or another level). When you've set all the necessary style levels, choose OK. Then, choose OK in the Index and Tables dialog box to insert the TOC in the document.

Your document probably won't remain static after you insert the first draft of the TOC, so it's important to understand how to update it as the document itself evolves. Page numbers might change, new headings will come and old headings will go, or you might just edit a few words here and there. Right-click on the TOC table and choose Update Field. This opens the Update Table of Contents dialog box. You can update only the page numbers or the entire TOC. Choose the desired option from the dialog box, then click on OK.

If you prefer, you can create a TOC using fields rather than styles. This method is useful for a document that lacks specific styles. First, add TC fields in the document at each location you want a TOC entry. To do so, choose Insert/Field. Next, choose Index and Tables from the Categories list, and select the TC field from the Field Names list. Use a form for the field similar to TC "text" \Ln, where "text" is the string to be included in the TOC-such as "Power Supply" -and n represents the level of indention for the entry. After you've added the necessary fields, choose Insert/Index and Tables. On the Table of Contents page, click the Options button. Clear the Styles check box and enable the Table Entry Fields check box. Choose OK, then OK again to insert the TOC.

I hope that you and your readers find your latest document-led by its table of contents-to be a well-organized read.

Contributing Editor Jim Boyce is the lead author of Windows NT Advanced Technical Reference (Que, 1996). Contact Jim in the "Applications" topic of WINDOWS Magazine's areas on America Online and CompuServe. Jim Boyce's e-mail ID is:

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