I am wanting to create a table of contents in Indesign for my publication.

First of all I have made a table of contents already. This has a group in paragraph styles with TOC - headings and TOC - sub headings. I have assigned these paragraph styles to footer headings throughout the document. From this the table of contents was created. I have not however written every section on its page because some are full image pages or others are chapter page dividers so a footer is not needed.

My question is how can I include these sections in the table of contents without making a footer on the pages I want to be text-free? I am still a bit confused as to how the table of contents works in relation to the paragraph styles assigned.

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An example of a page I want included in table of contents 'Power station'

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Table of contents with TOC heading and TOC sub heading paragraph styles I have only used the TOC heading

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Thank you

  • Add a text frame with text you want in a specific style. Set the style's color to match the page background.. it won't be visible on the page, but TOC will pick up text and its' style.
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 22:56

1 Answer 1


Based on your screen shots, it looks like you are headed the right direction. It doesn't help matters that this feature in InDesign has a rather clunky interface for all the power it possesses. I'm wondering if, based on your style names, you might be a little confused on the order of operations to make this feature work. You are off to a great start by using styles in your primary layout. I'll step through this and hopefully we'll identify the spots giving you trouble.

  1. In your layout use paragraph styles that will be referenced by the TOC tool. For [chapter title style] this should only be the style used in the first instance in a chapter, not the style used on every page for the running heads/footer. Your running heads will also reference the [chapter title style] and then display them on multiple pages, and they can be omitted if needed for artwork, etc.
  2. Likewise, any specific [section title style] should only occur once within the text, and you can have multiple sections titles within your text. Think of this as a heirarch: text contains [chapter title style] followed by zero or more [section title styles]. Running heads can use the [section title styles] just as you did with the chapter titles.
  3. In your TOC settings, the Include Paragraph Styles setting would reference your [chapter title style] as the level 1 element, then the [section title styles as the level 2 element. When you create you TOC (by Saving your TOC Style first, then selecting OK) the tool will step through your document or .indb book of documents, finding each of these elements as often as they appear. (This is why you don't want to create TOC based on the running head, but rather the instance in text.)
  4. for the visible TOC in pages, create solid paragraph and character styles, then assign these in the TOC tool to apply to each entry. In essense, you are saying "find every [chapter title style], create a TOC entry for it, and apply my [toc title style] to it. You can also specify to automatically apply folios within the TOC entry and how to handle those, as well. Each time be sure to SAVE your TOC style, then OK. The TOC will update IF you have the "Replace exiting TOC" selected, as you do in your example.
  5. The real trick is that when you have a well-styled document, you can easily update the visible TOC without having to apply any manual formatting. I've watched way too many people generate a good, nearly complete TOC but not apply the styles with the tool, and they they manually adjust the look of the TOC. Their manual adjustments are totally lost with the next TOC update, and they curse at the tool and never use it again! Poor souls, they were so close!

I hope this long post helps!

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