Setting up a Table of Contents in FrameMaker


Here’s a post by Asit Pant, a veteran technical communicator and FrameMaker community-member. Asit shares valuable tips about formatting TOCs that are equally useful for beginners and advanced users.

A ToC contains entries that serve as the outline of your content—typically the headings. The ToC also serves as a navigation aid through hyperlinks to the source content.

Once you insert the ToC as part of a book the first time, you will probably want to set up its formatting to suit your requirements. If you already know how to insert the ToC and want to learn how to format it, you can scroll directly to the Formatting the ToC section below.

NOTE: This post is specific to setting up a ToC for a FrameMaker book. For information on setting up a ToC for a standalone document, see the Technical Communication Suite blog post—Embed a TOC in a FrameMaker Document by Samartha Vashishtha.

Inserting the TOC

To insert the ToC with the default formatting, follow these steps:

  1. In the book, select Add > Table of Contents.
  2. In the Set Up Table of Contents dialog, select the paragraph tags that you want to include in your ToC. In this example, let us include Heading1 and Heading2 (or their equivalent in your document). Use the arrow buttons to move these headings to the Include Paragraphs Tagged list.
  3. To have each entry in the ToC linked to its source, select Create Hypertext Links. These links let you navigate to the source of an entry by clicking the entry.
  4. Click Add.
  5. In the Update Book dialog box that appears, ensure that Generate Table of Contents, Lists, and Indexes is checked, and then click Update.
  6. FrameMaker creates the ToC in a file named <BookName>TOC.fm.

Formatting the TOC

The ToC created by default looks something like the following:

Heading1 1
Heading2 3

NOTE: If a template has been set up for you, the ToC might appear different. In this case, you can use the following steps to fine-tune the appearance further if required, and also to understand how the ToC formatting works.

However, you probably want the ToC to look like something as follows:

Heading1 .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Heading2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Modify the ToC entries on the reference page and the paragraph properties of the formats that are used for generating the TOC. Follow these steps:

  1. In the <bookname>TOC.fm file, select View > Reference Pages.
  2. Find the entries starting with <$paratext> <$pagenum>. These entries are building blocks and refer to the paragraphs with the specified formats (Heading1 and Heading2 in this case) and the respective page numbers in which they appear in the document. Notice that these entries have paragraph format names of <HeadingName>TOC (unless they were changed by someone who designed your templates).
  3. Modify the properties of the paragraph format:
    • Place the cursor anywhere in the first line containing <$ paratext> <$pagenum>.
    • Select Format > Paragraph > Designer to bring up the Paragraph Designer.
    • Create a tab stop to ensure a space between the paragraph name and the page number:
      • In the Basic tab, click Edit in the Tab Stops group
      • In the Edit Tab Stops dialog box, type an appropriate number for New Position. This is the distance from the left edge of the column to the tab stop.
      • Specify a leader for the tab stop. A leader is a visual connector (for example a dashed line), which helps guide the eye from the paragraph name to the page number. In the Leader area of the dialog box, click one of the predefined tab leaders or enter your own custom leader, and then click Edit.
      • To ensure that the page numbers are aligned to right, set the Alignment option to Right.
      • Click Continue to go back to the main Paragraph Designer window.
  4. You might want to change other properties of the paragraph to format the Table of Contents entry. For example, you might want to make the font bigger and/or bolded (for top-level headings), or to add an indent (for lower-level headings). Set the appropriate options per your preference and update the paragraph format.
  5. On the Reference page, place the cursor between the <$paratext> and <$pagenum> building blocks. Press the tab key. This ensures that whenever you generate the ToC, there is a tab stop between the heading and the corresponding page number. The formatting of the tab stop will be per the settings you defined earlier in the Paragraph Designer.
  6. Repeat the previous steps for all ToC entries on the Reference page (that is, entries that contain the <$paratext> and <$pagenum> building blocks).
  7. Select View > Body Pages to change the view.
  8. Regenerate the ToC by selecting Edit > Update Book. The ToC is now formatted as desired.

Further Suggested Reading

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