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iBook Lessons: Creating Amazon KDP tables of contents on MS Word for Macintosh


For whatever reason, many Amazon authors seem to be under the impression that you can only create a proper table of contents for Kindle Direct Publishing on Windows, not the Mac.

Having just uploaded our newest book (Getting Ready for Mountain Lion) to Amazon, Steve Sande and I have invested a lot of time learning the quirks of KDP and its tools, as well as those for iBooks (but more about that in another post). For any of our readers who are also budding authors or publishers, we'll be sharing what we've learned in a TUAW series called "iBook Lessons."

We thought we'd share our KDP Table of Contents strategy with you to help reduce the hair-pulling and frustration associated with document preparation. Here are the steps we use in Microsoft Word 2008 and 2011 to create our TOC.

  1. Create a fresh page and add Table of Contents text line, formatted with your favorite header style.
  2. Move your cursor just to the left of "Table". Choose Insert > Bookmark. Call the bookmark toc and click Add. This creates a bookmark before the title, named in such a way that KDP's automatic conversion tools will recognize it as the start of your Table of Contents. All the Kindle hardware and apps will be able to use it as well.Image
  3. Generate a temporary TOC, so you have an outline to start working with. Move to under your Table of Contents header to a new line. Choose Insert > Index and Tables > Table of Contents. Uncheck "Show Page Numbers".
  4. Click Options. Choose which heading styles you wish to include. If you use custom styles (e.g. H1 instead of Header 1) make sure to add a level for those as well. Typically, most ebook TOCs use either just H1 or H1 and H2. Your call. Click OK to finish options. Click OK again to generate the contents.
  5. Select the entire TOC, cut it, and paste it into TextEdit to be your guide to the next step.
  6. For each entry in the TOC, locate the start of that section in your manuscript. Set your cursor to the left of each section title. Again, use Insert > Bookmark to create a bookmark at that position. Name each item with a meaningful (and easy-to-recognize) tag.
  7. After bookmarking your entire document, return to the initial Table of Contents section. Paste the text from TextEdit back into your document as simple, unlinked text.
  8. For each item on your list, select the entire line: i.e. every word, not just clicking to the left of the name as you did to set bookmarks. Then choose Insert > Hyperlink (Command-K). Choose the Document tab, and click the Locate button to the right of the Anchor text field. Choose the bookmark you wish to link to, and click OK.Image
  9. Repeat for the remaining TOC entries.

Once you've finished adding bookmarks and hyperlinks, save your work. Go to KDP and upload the file (you may want to create a testbed skeleton book entry just for this purpose). Download the .mobi file it generates and try it out on the Kindle Mac app and/or any Kindles or iPads/iPhones you have on-hand. Amazon's Kindle Previewer app is also available for download from KDP, and provides simulated views of your ebook on iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Kindle DX, and Kindle Fire.

Always make sure you test each link to ensure that the bookmarks are placed properly. Also test the Table of Contents button in-app and check that it jumps you to the TOC correctly.

Best of luck in your ebook / iBook publishing efforts, and look forward to more tips about publishing here on TUAW.