Creating a Table of Contents

A table of contents (TOC) provides readers with a hierarchical view of the topic titles in a help system. When readers select a topic listed in the TOC, they are taken directly to that topic. The TOC can be organized by subject or by category, and a topic can be included under more than one heading, so readers have more than one way to find it.

Topic titles and the structure of the TOC need to be logical from a readers' point of view, which may differ from the developers' point of view. The structure for an online help TOC should be similar to the structure of a table of contents in a printed book.

Many websites can automatically generate a TOC or index for a help guide. Plugins (sometimes known as widgets), which help the browser process special types of web content, can also help in generating a TOC if one cannot be automatically generated directly from the website.

Table of Contents Guidelines

A table of contents provide a user with a familiar way to locate topics and view the overall structure of the document. The Table of Contents should:
  • Be readily accessible.
  • Show hierarchical relationships. Topics should be grouped.
  • Be expandable and collapsible to keep users from having to scroll through long topic lists.
  • Highlight the current topic. When the user moves from one topic to another in the information space, the new topic in the table of contents should be highlighted. This reminds the user of their location.
  • Indicate the type of information provided. Avoid single word titles.
  • Use informative and unique topic titles. Users rely on topic titles to decide if the topic might contain the needed information.
  • Use terms that your users understand.
  • Ensure that the title in the TOC listing is identical to the name of the help topic.
  • Use double clicking to get the user from the TOC item to the help topic. Double clicking is the standard action in the Table of Contents generated by most authoring tools.
  • Move from the Table of Contents to the top of the selected topic . Access from the Table of Contents should always be to the beginning of the selected topic.

Using RoboHelp to generate a Table of Contents (TOC)

Creating a Table of Contents using Robohelp is really simple. With the program open, just follow these easy steps:
  1. In the Project Manager Pod, right click on the Table of Contents folder and select New Table of Contents.
  2. Choose a name for your new TOC.
  3. Click OK. Robohelp will proceed to open the Table of Contents pod.
  4. In the Table of Contents pod, click the Auto-Create TOC button.
  5. You will have options to select from in the Auto-Create TOC dialog box:
    • Delete Current TOC Before Creating New: This option removes books and pages before automatically creating the table of contents. If this option is deselected, existing books and pages are included in the table of contents.
    • Create TOC Pages For Mid-Topic Links: This option creates pages in the table of contents based on bookmarks. Robohelp makes the topic that contains the bookmark into a book and all bookmarks into page.
  6. Click OK.

You are now free to use and edit your new Table of Contents.

Using RoboHelp 10 to Print a Table of Contents (TOC)

  1. Click the Table Of Contents pod.
  2. In the toolbar, click Print.
  3. From the pop-up menu, select the information to print.
    • OverviewPrint: Prints all book and page titles.
    • DetailedPrint: Prints all book and page titles, the topic titles linked to each, and the folders in which the topics are located.
  4. Click Properties or Page Setup to specify print options.


Adobe RoboHelp. 10, Using Adobe RoboHelp 10 HTML, Updated 23 July 2012. Web. 04 Oct. 2012. RoboHelp 10
Hackos, Jo Ann T., Dawn M. Stevens. Standards for Online Communication. New York: Wiley,1997. Print.
Weber, Jean Hollis (2004). Is the Help Helpful?. Frazier (Ed.), Chapter 6: Producing the Table of Contents and Index. Whitefish Bay WI: Hentzenwerke


Original Author: Luis F. Regalado
Contributors: Wendy Anderson, Inez Funchess, Larita Clow
Editors: Tammy Fitzpatrick