Tables of contents in ebooks are kind of like toilets. Necessary, but you don’t want them on display in the living room. This week I faced an interesting dilemma: a ToC with almost 70 entries, and the majority of them just numbers. So ensued my usual futzing about, trying to figure out how to make it as unobstrusive as possible. I could have gone with a short ToC at the beginning, linked to a full list of contents in the back. Ah, but then I would have several pages that looked like this:
Not what I want at all.
Then I had a lightbulb moment. Table it. (pardon the typo, I fixed it already!) Screenshots off my Paperwhite Kindle:
No matter how the user sets their preferences, the tables remain intact and no text wrapping. The result is a large ToC on one or two “pages” that is easy to read and use, and doesn’t eat up the sample or Look Inside preview.
The styling is very easy in html (though repetitive–hooray for copy/paste).
You can learn more about how to do this at the w3schools site.
Now would this work for a long ToC styled as Chapter 1 or Chapter One? It might be worth experimenting. Then, your ToC can be like your toilet, doing its job quietly in the background.