Monday, March 26, 2012

Update #8: No TOC in the manuscript of your novel


Don't do it.

Do NOT put a table of contents in a novel you send on submission (unless of course who ever requested it wants one.)

Here's why: it requires formatting, and every bit of formatting you put in that doesn't transfer has the potential of gooping up your manuscript.  It doesn't matter if chapter 6 starts on page 3000 if I can't actually read the pages.

Second, I'm reading electronically starting at the front and proceeding apace.  My Kindle doesn't even recognize page numbers.

Third, I'm reading electronically so I'm going to use a search function to find a chapter, or a word, not the TOC.

Fourth, unless you have it set to automatically adjust when the font/layout is adjusted, it will be wrong if I change the font to something other than yours, and fix the margins.***

Notice on the photo above that the Epilogue starts on page 229 according to the TOC.
Now look at the bottom: page 3, Sec 1 3/205. That means there are only 205 pages in the document.

That's because I changed the font from Courier to Times New Roman. And that means your TOC isn't useful at all.

There's no compelling need for a TOC in a novel submission.  Leave it out.

You should also leave out: dedications, acknowledgements and notice of copyright.  All that is added in at a later stage (AFTER the book is sold, and edited.)

***NOT TO MENTION DOUBLESPACE THE DAMN THING...oh wait, was I shrieking?


Krysten Hill said...

I thought a TOC was for NON-FICTION, not fiction. It's not that hard to figure out how to format a manuscript (except where to put page numbers)

This is why I love Query Tracker and AgentQuery :D

S L Jenan said...

I'm preparing a partial submission today, and I had this exact question. (I'm ashamed to admit I've fallen in love with my little TOC, after having programmed it to update automatically in Word. It's hard to let go.) But it's like you read my mind with this post.


Barbara said...

whisky. Cyber whisky for you.

Jessa Russo said...

So you wanted us to double space?

And no table of contents?

And an email address like isn't acceptable?

And you wanted us to number the pages?

Yikes! So many demands! Lol. :-)

Thank you for edjumacating us. We are going to be so much more awesome in our future endeavors!! Look out literary world!

Mister Furkles said...

So, you don’t want this:

My Favorite Dog
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three

But … how will you ever know the order of the chapters without a TOC?

Unknown said...

Wow. I hate compiling TOC's for work. It never occurred to me to do it for my MS. Probably a good thing, since I might have concluded that it would be awfully helpful.... :P

Judith Gonda said...


Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

Finally. One of the MS crimes I'm 100% positive I didn't commit! I was so confident my initial sub was formatted properly, though, and then the internets took a chomp of my first four chapters, deleted my headers, change the font, and removed all page numbers before delivering the tattered remains to Ms. Reid. Perhaps a TOC inserted itself somewhere in cyberspace? Nah. I think I'm safe on that count.

Bonnee Crawford said...

I sorta figured that would be the case, so fair enough!

Patchi said...

Keep on shrieking, it's very helpful. Writers need thick skin.

By the way, is a quote acceptable in a MS or is that for later on too?