How to Create a Table of Contents in Adobe InDesign

In Brief...

Paragraph Styles form the basis of many features in Adobe InDesign, and the Table of Contents function is no different. The Paragraph Styles to be included in the Table of Contents are selected, and then the content with those styles applied is pulled into the Table of Contents.


  1. First we'll look at the Paragraph Styles panel. In this example, the Chapter_Head and Sub_Head styles will be used for the Table of Contents. Notice also the TOC styles that have been created.
    Paragraph Styles Panel

  2. Go to the Layout menu and select Table of Contents.
    Table of Contents Command in Layout Menu

  3. In the dialog box, the Title field at the top-left is where you type in the heading you'll want to appear at the top of the Table of Contents. To the right is a Style menu where the Paragraph Style to be applied to the Table of Contents title can be selected. After entering the title and selecting the style, click the More Options button at the right to expand the dialog box.
    Table of Contents Dialog Box

  4. The Styles in Table of Contents section lists all the paragraph styles used in the file on the right under Other Styles. Click on a style, then click the Add button so it appears under Include Paragraph Styles.
    Table of Contents Dialog Box

  5. The Style section is now linked to whichever style is highlighted in the Include Paragraph Styles list. Entry Style is a menu where the paragraph style to be applied to the Table of Contents listing is selected. Page Number gives options to place the number before or after the entry, or to have no page number. The Style menu to the right of Page Number is where a character style to be applied to the TOC page number can be selected. By default, a tab will be inserted in Between Entry and Number when After Entry is chosen, and a character style could be applied to that, as well, if for example, leader dots of a different color were being used.
    Table of Contents Dialog Box

  6. The hierarchy of the Table of Contents can be controlled by changing the Level in the Style: Sub_Head section. In this case, the level will be left at the second level.
    Table of Contents Dialog Box

  7. If the file is to be exported to PDF, the Table of Contents can be made interactive by checking the Create PDF Bookmarks box in the Options section.
    Table of Contents Dialog Box

  8. After clicking OK to close the dialog box, the text cursor will be loaded. Click on the page to place the Table of Contents.
    Table of Contents Placed on Page

  9. If page numbers change after creating the Table of Contents, the TOC can be updated by going to the Layout menu and choosing Update Table of Contents.
    Update Table of Contents in Layout Menu

Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical, and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her class. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint to produce a fully-developed and cohesive brand identity.