eBook Distribution 101: Table of Contents

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If you haven’t discovered it yet, check out our new Word to EPUB Converter on the eBook publishing page. This is our fastest, most streamlined way yet for you to create an eBook from your manuscript and send it out into the world. Go ahead and play around with it– you can have an eBook for sale in an hour!

The EPUB Converter is a powerful tool, and with great power comes great responsibility; so we’ve written an eBook Creator Guide to help you format your Word DOC into the best shape for conversion. Why should you bother? Think of it as getting your book ready for a race. Sometimes a runner can win after barely training. But most times even the greatest athletes will collapse on the track unless they’ve prepared for the event. (Or, in your case, create an eBook that can’t be sent to distribution channels.) While our wizard isn’t as demanding as a race, a little preparation never hurt anyone, or any book.

One essential retail distribution requirement (which takes little prep work) is to have a working Table of Contents. This Table of Contents is not the same as a print book, but a file inside your EPUB called the NCX. (That’s the Navigation Control file for XML, for technical folks.) The NCX contains links to the sections or chapters of your eBook, which makes for easy navigation between one part to another. It appears on e-readers as a vertical list of links.

A very common problem is an NCX that has only one link named “untitled”. When this happens, your eBook needs to be styled with headings that point out its sections or chapters. Letting the wizard know you need an NCX link isn’t hard: just format the name of each section in your Word DOC as style “Heading 1”. (You can do this through the “Styles” options, listed in the Word tab “Home”.) Then, you can change this style’s settings (font, size, etc.) to reflect the styling of your book. If you want to create subsections, use “Heading 2” and “Heading 3”.

NCX links that aren’t correct are another problem; for example, a phrase in your manuscript becomes a link in your eBook. This means that parts of your book other than chapter headings are styled as “Heading 1”, etc. Weeding these out is as easy as styling them back to “Normal”.

Of course, always check your EPUB in an e-reader like Adobe Digital Editions to make sure it appears the way you want it to, and it follows the retail distribution guidelines.

Keep playing with the tool, and don’t forget to consult our handy eBook Creator Guide for all things eBooks. Happy e-publishing.

16 thoughts on “eBook Distribution 101: Table of Contents”

  1. Barry,
    The tool sets the maximum size for Headings at 16 points. If you’d like to create the effect of a larger Heading, you can make the rest of your text proportionately smaller.
    Text size is changeable on an e-Reader, so proportion is most important.

  2. Gonzalo Paternoster

    What is my ebook does not have chapters in it because it it small how do I overcome this for distribution?

  3. philliup flockhart

    I am having trouble converting my EPD books for publication outside of Lulu- I keep coming up with a problem in the Table of Contents index at the begining of the book – I follow the instructions on the site but to no avail- I wondered if you could point me in the right direction ? … many thanks ..
    Best wishes phillip flockhart.

  4. I have not got a clue about what you are talking. It is all double dutch to me.Whar is a NCX and what am I supposed to do with it. How to I make my book any clearer than it already is????? Speak English not jargon.

  5. I went through the pub. “Principles of the Kingdom of God” and made the title heading 1, the chapters heading 2 and the subdivisions heading 3. isn’t this enough>

  6. Richard D Bonte

    I have taken out all headings in my Table of Contents–just left it “normal”–and I keep getting NCX messages…you need to make sure your NCX is working so that people can find the headings and chapter divisions in your documents. I’ve checked all this and it’s fine. Why do I have to pay €17.50 for Lulu to make sure the NCX program is okay. Can I publish my epub book or not??

  7. Can somebody please tell me in an idiot proof way (laymans) terms how how I set my chapters up on my word doc so it can be converted into an e book its doing my head in heeeelllp

  8. i have a problem of loading my manuscript for eBook production… what is this complain about ‘not seeing chapters on the table of content?

  9. Hi there! This post could not be written much better!
    Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He continually kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this information to him.
    Pretty sure he’ll have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  10. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself?
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