Indexes and tables of contents

table of contents
item list index contents castlist

Differences between tables of contents (ordered by location in the book) and indexes (ordered by topic).

Both indexes and tables of contents include information about where to find things in the book. An index is typically considered to be an ordered display of some or all of the contents of the book, sorted alphabetically (or in some other way) by the contents themselves. We include in the category of indexes any specialized index such as an index of poetic first lines or titles, an index of names or places, a concordance, etc. A table of contents is typically considered to be an ordered display of some or all of the contents of the book, sorted by the sequence in which they appear in the book.

We have encountered occasional hybrid forms, in which references are grouped alphabetically but then within each letter of the alphabet they are ordered by page number: thus, all the A references are together and sorted by page number, followed by all the B references and so on.

We recommend using div type="index" to encode things defined above as indexes (regardless of what the text calls them), and using div type="contents" to encode things defined as tables of contents. Hybrid forms such as the one described above should be identified based on their primary mode of organization. Either of these elements may appear at the front or the back of the book; position should not influence the definition of the element.

Note that other kinds of tables and lists, such as subscriber lists, cast lists, etc., do not fall into these categories, since they do not include page numbers or any other way of finding things in the book.