InDesign Table of Contents for Proposals and SOQs

Do you manually create a table of contents (TOC) for your proposals and SOQs? I have noticed a steady increase in clients reducing the number of hard copies and opting for digital submissions. Digital copies, which were probably requested for archival purposes (e.g., public record) in the past, are now the document being used by selection committees to make their decision. How does your proposals and SOQ digital copies stand compared to the competition?

InDesign can increase the quality of your digital submission with its Table of Contents tool. What can this do for me?

  • Automated table of contents, including multiple tiers
  • Automated updates to page numbers
  • Automated PDF bookmarks
  • Automated figure index

Automated Table of Contents is not a difficult tool to master; however, you have to understand paragraph styles and be mindful of using extra carriage returns to move content on your page.

The following example will introduce you to a simple two-tier table of contents:

Step 1 – Paragraph styles for your content

InDesign creates your table of contents based on text, which has been assigned specified paragraph styles.

toc pstyles

Create three paragraph styles and assign attributes to make ensure they are easily differentiated. Use them consistently throughout the document.

Step 2 – Paragraph and character styles for the table of contents

You can leave the actual TOC format as the default body style. However, consider creating a few paragraph and character styles to make it easy to customize the final TOC.

toc pstyles2Here are two separate paragraph styles for the TOC’s tier two and tier two entries.

toc cstylesIn addition, we have created a character style for the actual page number, as well as the leader.

For now, we will leave these styles blank. Once we automate our first TOC, we can then make changes to the styles with the “Preview” box checked to finalize our settings.

Step 3 – Putting them all together

Select “Table of Contents Styles…” from the Layout menu. Select “New” to create a new style.

toc style

Make sure “More Options” is selected to ensure access to all that TOC has to offer.

  1. TOC Style—Give your TOC style a name
  2. Title
    1. Title—This is the automated title for your TOC. You can also leave this blank.
    2. Style—This is the style applied to the TOC Title
  3. Adding the styles
    1. Other Styles—This is a list of all paragraph styles in your document
    2. Include Paragraph Styles—You add styles from the Other Styles “3a” to this list.
  4. Format for TOC entries
    1. Entry Style—This assigns a Paragraph Style to the entry.
    2. Page Number—Option to place page number before or after entry, as well as completely removing it.
    3. Page Number Style—Assigns a Character Style to the page number
    4. Between Entry and Number—Sets how the space between the entry and the page number is handled. The drop down list provides various options. For our example, we use “^y”, which designates a Right Indent Tab
    5. Between Entry and Number Style—Assigns a Character Style to the leader
    6. Level—Sets the hierarchy of the TOC. Select the style from Include Paragraph Styles “3b” and set them to the desired.

Complete the style for header 1 as described above.

toc style 2

Select header 2 and complete the settings above. Two changes from header 1 include Entry Style and Level. Once complete with header 2, select OK to close

Step 4 – Generating and Styling your TOC

You are now ready to have InDesign automatically generate a TOC. Activate the page, where you intend to place the TOC, and select Table of Contents from the Layout menu, then click OK. This will load the TOC into your cursor. You can then place the TOC by drawing a rectangle on your page.

toc unstylesIt should look something like this. Entries on the left and page numbers on the right.

The next step is to modify the TOC Paragraph and Character Styles you created in step 2. For my example, I used the following but you can feel free to experiment:

  • Paragraph Styles
    • toc – tier 1: 12pt Sans-serif font, 14pt leading, 0.0625” space after, 2” tab with “.” as leader character.
    • toc – tier 2: Based on toc – tier 1 with 0.125” left indent, 90-percent tint to the character color.
    • roc – title: 58pt Sans-serif font, 0.25” space after, all caps, yellow character color, 50pt underline weight, -20pt underline offset, blue underline color
  • Character Styles
    • toc – page number: bold oblique, 14” font size, blue
    • toc – leader: 90-percent tint to the character color, 400 tracking

toc styled up

Here is the TOC with the above style settings.

Step 5 – Exporting to PDF

toc export settingsOn export, check the Bookmarks option. This automatically adds PDF bookmarks, as well as makes the TOC click-able within the PDF.

AcrobatEnd result. A PDF table of contents that is accurate and easy to navigate.

I challenge you to design a TOC that blows my away. Share your examples via Twitter @JustinDSligh