The Smashwords NCX/TOC

If you’re formatting for Smashwords, READ THIS POST HERE.

Let me reiterate–READ THE SMASHWORDS STYLE GUIDE.

I even have step-by-step formatting instructions for text only books.

Now, we’ll discuss that often elusive Smashwords NCX/TOC.

Ever received an error about NCX?  Have you ever opened your final mobi file and wondered why on earth you have no pagebreaks in the file, even though you used that handy-dandy pagebreak function in Microsoft Word?

YOU NEED A PROPER NCX/TOC FOR ANY SMASHWORDS BOOK.  ANY.

So now you know you need a table of contents.  If you’ve got the Chapters and the heading styles goin’ on, you’re all set (as mentioned in that first post I told you to read).  However, if your chapters don’t meet the specifications, you’ll have to do the back door method of showing the Meatgrinder what to do.

Here is our make-believe file.

This file is already formatted per Smashwords’s guidelines.  Now I’m going to show you how to create that snazzy TOC.

Highlight the first chapter heading.  Move your cursor to the toolbar where it says INSERT.  One of the options is “Bookmark”.  Choose it.  A new little dialogue box pops up, as shown below:

In the name line, make the bookmark something that will be easy to refer to later.  It’s best to make it one long name using every word of the chapter heading because there is no room for error when you’re linking to each bookmark later.  So, as you can see in the image, I’ve titled my bookmark elsienewfriend.  (Note: You can’t use characters or spaces in the bookmarks, only text.)

Click add. You’ve put in your first bookmark.  Rinse and repeat for every single chapter heading in your document.

Return to the table of contents.  Highlight the first chapter heading in the list–in this instance, Elsie’s New Friend.  Right-click to bring up that fancy little box.  Click “Hyperlink”.

This new little box shown above will pop up.  See the blue square?  It’s a tab that says “Place in this document”.  Click that, and the white dialogue box will change to show you a list of all your bookmarks in the document.  Click the bookmark for elsienewfriend, and hit Ok, then voila — hyperlink.  Rinse and repeat for the rest of the list.

Your final file should look a little something like this with those nice blue hyperlinks:

Notice how I didn’t even use a pagebreak in the doc.  None.  It’s all on the same page.  Yet… if you want an idea of the separate pages that result from the meatgrinder’s conversion, here’s a montage of images:

Pagebreaks intact.

Happy formatting!

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8 thoughts on “The Smashwords NCX/TOC”

    1. Unfortunately, no. I’ve never run into this before, as I’ve never known anyone to do internal hyperlinks that weren’t connected only to the chapter headings. Supposedly, the Meatgrinder uses just what is in your TOC, so in that vein, it shouldn’t be picking up those other hyperlinks. However, the Meatgrinder is only as good as it can be (which isn’t), so it’s probably recognizing those “Place in this document” hyperlinks ALL as part of the TOC. I wish I could be more help :\ Do shoot Smashwords an email, though, and they’re usually good about responding to questions like this. :)

  1. Great write up on the TOC. I wish that I had read this before I got started; it would have saved tons of trouble for me. :) Two things I’d add (that I found through a little trial and error):
    1. The Table of Contents page title can have a bookmark too, but if you do, be sure to label the bookmark as “ref_TOC” (without the quotes). It’s the last bookmark I make. There is no need to hyperlink to it. In fact, if the TOC has an entry called Table of Contents – do not – do not link it to the bookmark. It only causes problems. I don’t even include a “Table of Contents” line in my TOC; it’s just not needed anyway. The meatgrinder will create the appropriate code for the bookmark though, so it can be used in an ereader’s navigation scheme.
    2. I’ve found that Word can randomly create bookmarks and links. For example, I test links (both internal and external) before I publish, to make sure they work. Just before saving for the last time, do the ‘insert -> bookmarks’ one more time, but make sure that ‘hidden bookmarks’ (at the bottom of the pop-up window) is checked. You might (not always) see bookmarks and links like “_HE0345″ or “OL234″. These need to be deleted. You can only delete one at a time, but it’s no amount of work. :)

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