I am working on a book where each chapter is a separate .indd file. These files are assembled in a single .indb file to make the final book. However, I am considering grouping these chapter-documents (68 in total) into 4-5 sections. Thus, the TOC would look something like this:

Section 1: Section 1 title
  Chapter 1: Chapter 1 title
  Chapter 2: Chapter 2 title
  Chapter 3: Chapter 3 title
Section 2: Section 1 title
  Chapter 4: Chapter 4 title
  Chapter 5: Chapter 5 title
  Chapter 6: Chapter 6 title
  Chapter 7: Chapter 7 title
  Appendix I
  Appendix II
  Appendix III

Is this possible? From what I have gathered reading Adobe help documents, Section markers are used within a long document to designate different parts of the text. Since in my case each document is a single chapter, how can I make sections behave as proper "sections" instead of "sub-chapters"?

  • The Section markers in InDesign cannot function across documents like that, but that’s because they specifically denote sections within a single file. You don’t need to have anything called an actual ‘section’ to make this, though. That’s just a name. The content doesn’t have to relate directly to the name of the feature. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 23:45

2 Answers 2


If your question relates only to ToCs, then what you want can be done.

Set up your paragraph styles such that your chapter opening style is a lower level than the section opening style. You do this in the ToC dialog, under More Options.

Then set up ToC paragraph styles for each type of ToC paragraph (i.e. which correspond to paragraph styles that appear in the ToC).

These ToC styles can be made to reflect the indentation you want. The ToC will then render as you wish: with indented paragraphs, or in a certain typeface or size, for example. And best of all it is all automatic.

I think the comment about Parts relates to academic books conventionally being divided into parts rather than section, but I have seen some divided into sections, as you suggest.


Don’t buy into Adobe's mangling of book terminology and call these sections. The term which you want to use is Part.

A Section is traditionally a sub-division of a chapter.

Hierarchy of text:

  • Volume (book in a multi-volume set) --- no support for it, create a static text variable and update by hand.
  • frontmatter, text block, backmatter (traditional descriptors of what goes where)
  • Part (division of a book into usually topical portions) --- these will be in the text block --- if book is in a single file, can be done as a numbered list --- InDesign misrepresents these are "Sections", see Layout | Numbering and Section options
  • Chapters --- explicitly supported as a Text Variable, number will update if all chapters are in an InDesign book file (.indb) and enabled in Layout | Numbering and Section options, and can be manually disabled on a per file basis. If entire book is in a single file, one may use a numbered list instead.
  • Sections --- or scene break --- this and all the following smaller divisions are optional, and if numbering restarts per chapter, and if entire chapters fit in a single file, may be handled as a numbered list (the same applies to all the smaller divisions listed below)
  • Subsections
  • Subsubsections
  • Paragraphs

In InDesign, in Layout | Numbering and Section Options one can set the Section Prefix, and the Section Marker for what ought to be parts.

  • I've only known chapters and sections. Never knew Indesign offered something like parts. Any idea how to set it up? Which menu option allows you to designate parts containing several chapters?
    – TheLearner
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 21:02
  • Expanded my answer. Numbering in InDesign is exasperatingly simplistic and primitive. Anything beyond the most basic default has to be managed by hand.
    – WillAdams
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 14:02

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