We all know, how important table of contents and index is, in a document or book, mainly because it saves time and energy to find something out which is really important for our study. Table of Contents is a list of sections and chapters contained in the document, with their relative page numbers.
On the other hand, Index is page found at the back of the book or document, containing a list of the words, with their respective reference to the page, where the reader can find the topic and read the same.
The table of contents helps the readers understand how the document is organized. On the other hand, the index merely helps the reader, where to find a particular topic of interest.
In this content, we are going to discuss the difference between table of contents and index.
Content: Table of Contents Vs Index
|Basis for Comparison
|Table of Contents
|Table of Contents implies an organized list containing the chapter-wise headings and sub-headings along with page numbers.
|Index refers to a page which acts as a pointer to find out the keywords and key terms, which the book contains.
|Beginning of the document
|End of the document
|Chapters and Section titles arranged as per their page number
|Topics Covered along with their page number
|To show the titles included in the document or paper at a quick glance.
|To find the topics within the main matter of a book or document.
|Included in the list
|Not included in the list
Definition of Table of Contents
Table of Contents or otherwise called as Contents is a list of the chapters and section titles that are included in the written work, often placed at the beginning. The chapters and section title often carry a page number from where the chapter or section starts. It may also contain the headings of the sub-chapter or any subsection, indicated with the help of bullets.
Table of Contents acts as an indication of each segment of the document or book. It helps the readers to locate the information of their need easily and quickly. As well as they can also revisit the page without much effort, whenever they want. All they need to do is check the page number and jump directly to the concerned page, to find the information.
At the time of making dissertations, table of contents plays a significant role, as it enables the reader in navigating through and accessing the document. However, it has to be created at the end, so that you include each and everything in the document.
Further, it must contain all the beginning and ending material, along with the main content. Here, beginning and ending material implies the supplementary pages which are contained in the book, such as foreword, preface, abstract, acknowledgement, bibliography, glossary, etc.
Definition of Index
An index can be defined as the alphabetical record of the topics, with reference to the pages on which they can be found. It is basically a guide to the book or document, which helps the reader to find the topic of interest quickly. It can be created electronically, i.e. via the use of computer systems, as well as manually.
In a typical book, at the back, you will find an index, containing the topics with the associated pointers, i.e. the page number or section number. The topics include names of people, places, concepts, etc. chosen by the indexer according to its relevance or priority and interest of a common reader. Figures, tables and charts also make it into the index list, but only when the items form part of the text discussion.
An indexer can be the author or writer of the book, or its editor or any third party, who is a professional indexer.
It is to be noted that each and every word or term is not included in the index list, as it would make the index page unnecessarily long. Hence, only those topics are contained in the list which is important for a possible reader.
Key Differences Between Table of Contents and Index
Upcoming points will discuss the differences between table of contents and index:
- A table of contents is nothing but a systematic itemization of the chapters and sections, often accompanied by a page number, in which they exist. Conversely, an index can be understood as the alphabetically arranged list of keywords (names, places or topics) with their associated page numbers.
- Table of Contents includes the title of the first level topics, listing the contents of the document on the basis of their title. Further, the arrangement in the table of contents is in chronological order, whereas in the case of an index, there is an alphabetical arrangement of the words, in the list, so as to ease navigation.
- In Table of Contents, the chapters and section titles are arranged as per their page number. Conversely, in an index, the topics covered or keywords are given along with their page number.
- While the table of contents is found at the beginning of the book, an index is usually placed at the end of the book or document.
- The aim of the table of contents is to show the titles included in the document or paper at a quick glance. In contrast, the index is included in the document/book to help the reader find the topics within the main matter.
- One significant difference between the two list pages is that while in a table of contents, you can find a reference to the additional pages along with the main content, such as foreword, preface, bibliography, annexure, appendix, so on and so forth. However, in an index, you will never find a reference to such additional pages, as it covers keywords present in the main content.
So far we have understood how resourceful the two pages are. In the absence of these two, it would be really hard for the readers to go through each page so as to find a specific topic.
With Table of Contents, it is way easier to navigate, as it clearly shows up the page number on which subject matter is explained or discussed. In the same way, an index acts as a map to locate a particular topic in a book