WWWeb Hypertext Style
by Jerry Tutsch, Copyright © 1996
Table Of ContentsIn a book, a table of contents is a nested list of names and corresponding pointers, or links. The names are section names and the pointers are page numbers. Along with the indexes, the table of contents is one of the main navigational aids available to the book reader.
The nested lists, where the nesting is generally shown by the use of indentation and different numbering schemes, define a hierarchical tree structure for the parts of the book. By assuming that the reader will follow a top-to-bottom reading order, the author can use the physical layout of the items in the table of contents to suggest an optimal reading order for the sections of the book.
The table of contents serves as a map or overview for the web of book sections. It enables a reader to find, and jump to, a section of particular interest. The section names indicate the logical structure of the book and hint at the contents of the sections. The "tableness"1 of the table of contents connects the names of the parts of the book with their corresponding physical location, that is, their page numbers so the table of contents also shows the physical order of the sections of the book.
In the hypertext context, the sections of a book become nodes or chunks of text pointed to by hypertext links. The logical "links" in the book context are the section names in the book's table of contents. Page numbers are the low-tech artifact used to implement the physical links, they are to books as URL's are to WWWeb pages.
The placement of the table of contents in a book is a user interface design issue. To be most useful it must be in a standard location, generally near the front of the book. For a book, the table of contents plays the role played by a "home" or "top" or "front" page in a hypertext document.
The table of contents is a major user interface feature for books. Hypertext documents should include some form of a hypertext table of contents.
Created using HyperText ToolÝ, at 11:53 AM, on 4/3/96. The document is located at: http://www.execpc.com/~tutsch/HTT-W3HTS/top.html.