Self-Editing Tips: Table of Contents
You may not believe this, but it’s true. Nearly half of all books I edit have chapter titles that don’t match the listings in the table of contents. For instance, the table of contents may list chapter twelve as “Cindy’s Big Day,” but in the text it may read as “Cindy’s Big Day in the City.” Having matching table of contents listings and chapter titles is an easy way to make your manuscript as polished as possible before you send it to an editor.
A surefire way to ensure your titles are consistent is to automate them. Microsoft Word and Apple Pages can prepopulate a table of contents (with just a little help from you). This is especially useful if you are writing a nonfiction book that has lots of different sections, but it is a good idea for fiction, as well. Here is a tutorial about how to create a table of contents for your book. If you don’t want to fuss with that technique, you can simply type a table of contents page.
Either way, it’s wise to print out your table of contents and manually go through your book to check that each title matches what you have in your table. It’s certainly not uncommon to find inconsistencies in the table your program has created.
Doing this will save your editor time . . . and hopefully save you money.