I've been remembering and inspired by an old style of table of contents/chapter summaries where a list of short sentences or phrases describing the events or contents of the chapter is presented separated by em dashes:

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I don't have any physical books on hand right now that use this pattern, so I've been forced to look for examples by just searching for old book scans on the internet archive, like these:

That's been a fairly painstaking process, and I realized if I knew what this style was called perhaps I could find examples more easily. Is there a name for this style of chapter summary?

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    Hi, and welcome to GDSE! 😀 Interesting question. I'm guessing it could have had a name back then. At least to use among typographers. But I have little faith in someone being able to answer this. We'll see. I've never come across any comprehensive list of such "styles" with names. Not sure anyone ever spend the time naming such patterns. Perhaps in some book from a publisher with styles for their clients to choose from? Anyway, your three examples follows more or less the same overall pattern. Isn't this enough to get inspired from? I'm curious about what you hope to find.
    – Wolff
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 15:42
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    related: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/152008/…
    – Yorik
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 16:14
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    I have a folder with about 50+ TOC styles that I sometimes use for inspiration. Its a good question, but I don't think anybody bothered to come up with a name for every TOC variation.
    – Lucian
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 17:05
  • @Yorik funnily that's the book I have immediately thought of when seeing the question Commented May 20, 2022 at 9:35

1 Answer 1


According to my wife - who has been a book editor for a number of years I'm not allowed to say - has told me that there is no particular name for this style. The only part she pointed out is that it's an "open em dash" table of contents - meaning there's a space on each side of the em dash. This could be a "house style" created by the publisher that may have been picked up by other designers. There are standards such as the Chicago Style but this doesn't adhere to it. Did my own digging but truth is you can design a table of contents any way you wish.

  • I figured there might not be a name, but was just curious if people have written about this kind of thing before. It is admittedly quite a small detail, but isn't that what designers like to pay attention to? Thanks for sharing your and your wife's thoughts. Commented May 19, 2022 at 19:23
  • @PhinJensen, designers do like to pay attention to details like this. But it's just that (AFAIK) there aren't really any resources that tries to classify all historical typographic patterns. Understandable as the workload would be enormous. The possibilities are virtually endless as you experience when you open a blank document in InDesign. A classification system could be based on when we first see a certain pattern, but man ... imagine going through all books in history and deciding for each typographical pattern if it should have its own name or if it's a hybrid of two existing patterns.
    – Wolff
    Commented May 20, 2022 at 15:12

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