How to Use InDesign: Table of Contents

Screenshot. An interactive table of contents from an e-newsletter allows users to click article titles to jump to the page.
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Did you know? InDesign makes interactive PDFs too! Not limited to just Acrobat Pro, Acrobat DC, Adobe InDesign makes an easy, clickable Table of Contents throughout your magazine design, e-newsletter, or other interactive PDFs.

3-Step Tutorial to Create an Interactive Table of Contents

Step 1: Use Tabs to Align Text Content

Insert the article titles and page numbers. Use Tabs (Ctrl + Shift + T) to align the page numbers and to add leader text, such as “…”:

Step 2: Add Hyperlink Destinations.

Open Hyperlinks (InDesign Application Bar > Window > Interactive > Hyperlinks). You must set both a hyperlink source and destination. The hyperlink source will be the article title in the Table of Contents. The hyperlink destination will be the article title within the body of the document. Create the hyperlink destination first using a text anchor.

Both a hyperlink source and destination must be set.

To create the text anchor, locate the appropriate article title in the document body, and highlight it. (The highlighted text will automatically become the text anchor’s name.) Then click the More Options button  in Hyperlinks, and select “New Hyperlink Destination.” Next, select “Text Anchor” from the Type: menu, and hit OK.

Screenshot. Select "Add new hyperlink destination" from the Hyperlinks panel to complete the text anchor.More Options menu of the Hyperlinks panel to create a text anchor link.

Step 3: Add New Hyperlinks.

Return to the Table of Contents to add the hyperlink destination. Highlight the article title, then in HyperlinksCreate New Hyperlink using the New Hyperlink  button. Like the text anchor, the highlighted text automatically becomes the new hyperlink’s name. Select “Text Anchor” from the Link To: menu. Choose a Character Style if desired. (Note that you must create the Character Style before-hand.)

Repeat these steps for all the desired hyperlinks! Finally, go to File > Export… > Adobe PDF (Interactive) (*.pdf) to view the links in action.

Other Tips for Making an Interactive Table of Contents:

  • To edit a hyperlink, open Hyperlinks, and double-click the link, or alternatively, click the More Options button, “Edit Hyperlink…
  • To remove hyperlink error messages, try deleting extraneous links. Open Hyperlinks, and click the More Options button, “Delete Unused Destinations.” This might improve performance if the links library is very large.