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Multiple Tab Stops in a Table of Contents

By 6th July 2013December 4th, 2017No Comments

Anyone who has produced a book in InDesign will know what a boon the automatic production of a table of contents can be. Just one click and it’s done (kinda!).

The first thing to consider BEFORE working on a document that will need a table of contents is to use papragraph styles for your chapter headers (or whatever item you want to have listed). In the example we have created a table of contents for a furniture exhibition catalogue – the Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design.

The exhibitors’ entries in the catalogue are in alphabetical order. They also have to be numbered as the catalogue corresponds with a price list, so we created a paragraph style with autonumbering. So far so easy… However, because there was a possibility of the pages shuffling as new exhibitors came on board we deliberately did not link our text frames. It’s still possible to create paragraph styles which have consecutive and automatically-updating numbers even without linking text frames and here is some fab instruction from InDesign Secrets on how to do it. Just to slightly complicate matters, we had two different paragraph styles; one for white backgrounds and one for dark.

To create a table of contents is pretty straightforward; we found some excellent help from Adobe. We selected our two light and dark paragraph styles and also created a whole new style for the table of contents to be created in. Still pretty straightforward. So, what is this post all about?

The problem that we had came about when we wanted to put tab leaders in our TOC – you know, those little dots that lead to the page number. Because our paragraph header already had a tab stop in it (between the exhibitor number and the exhibitor’s name) the leader dots appeared in this tab space. So how do you create a TOC style with two tabs? Well, it’s as simple as it sounds – create two tabs. We had the first left tab indent to 6mm (which is the gap between the number and exhibitor) and the second right tab (the leader dots between the exhibitors’ names and page numbers) set to 60mm.

We also created a character style for the exhibitor number – which we nested in the style through two characters – and a paragraph rule for the box the number sits in. Lastly, once the TOC had been created, we selected all of the text below the contents’ title and split it into two columns. Et voila!

Feel free to email if you have any questions about this – it’s a tricky thing to resolve but looks good and, most importantly, works well when dealing with numbered items in a table of contents..

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