Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Ebooks: Table of Contents & Endnotes

Table of Contents

Most books need a Table of Contents. In a print book it’s just a list at the front with page numbers, but in an ebook the reader wants to be able to jump to the chapter they want, and to find the Table of Contents easily when they want to.

Most ebook converters will create a Table of Contents on the fly, by looking for the word ‘Chapter’, and this may be fine for fiction, where the chapters are just numbered and the reader isn’t going to want to jump about. A Table of Contents is essential for non-fiction however, and you may want more control, so you can do it yourself in the Word document before you load it for conversion.

Table of ContentsThe answer is bookmarks and hyperlinks. They are set up so that a click on a chapter in the Table will take you direct to that chapter, and a click on any chapter heading will take you to the Table. If you create your own Table be careful to correctly label the bookmark so that the converter recognises it. Details below.


When I produced my first book Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth, the print book had endnotes but the ebook didn’t, because I didn’t know how to do it. By the time of the second one Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John, I had worked it out, and went back and put the links into Alina too.

Endnote numbers in the text

Endnotes are important in some non-fiction books because you want to show you have done your research, and where you got your information from. In a print book you simply put a small number in brackets and then list all the numbers at the end with the notes. Most word processors will create endnotes for you when you select it from the Insert menu.

But in an ebook, the reader can’t be asked to page all the way to the end to read a note and then page all the way back to where they were reading.

Endnotes 2
Endnotes at the end of the book

The answer is to use bookmarks and hyperlinks. When the reader clicks on the note number, the ereader immediately jumps to the note. The reader then clicks on the note and the ereader immediately jumps back to where they came from in the text.

Definition of Terms

A bookmark is a place-holder – it marks a place in the text.

A hyperlink is a pointer – they are used to point to a place on the internet, and can point to a place in a document, like a bookmark. You can recognise a hyperlink because it is usually blue and underlined (it can be coloured differently in blog posts).

Once I had figured out how to do it, I created a Slideshare to explain how to create a bookmark and a hyperlink and set up a Table of Contents and Endnotes. It’s not difficult, but can be a bit fiddly. If you need to know the details you can find it here

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at

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