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Have you also noticed?

More and more bloggers seem to be using a table of contents in their posts.

Is this just uber trendy right now or is there a good reason?

Also, is it something you should consider?

To find out more and if you want to know how to create a table of contents in WordPress, stick around and I’ll tell you.

What is a Table of Contents?

You can see mine right above this section!

A table of contents is usually abbreviated as TOC or simply as Contents. It’s a list of chapter titles you find at the start of books or section titles before the start of an article.

In the case of books, these usually include page numbers, and when online, the titles are usually hyperlinked.  This means when you click on a title you’re taken directly to that section.

If you haven’t noticed these in blog posts yet, you’ll probably have come across them if you’ve read an article on Wikipedia. That’s where I took the one from below, on the same subject.

 

Why is a Table of Contents Important ? 

 

  • Readers can see at a glance what your post is about. This is especially useful when articles are longer and have a number of content levels. Having a table of contents can improve the user’s experience.
  • Users can also jump to a certain section when they click on titles as long as these have been hyperlinked. This also makes your blog posts more user friendly. 
  • When people like the way your posts are set out because it’s easy to get around, they’re more likely to stay on your site and return again. This can help improve your search engine ranking as Google monitors how long users stay on your website before clicking away.
  • It’s also good for SEO since it helps Google to understand what your content is about. Also a linked table can result in site links because Google adds a jump to section next to your site in search results.

3 Ways to add a Table of Contents to Your Posts

  • You could create a simple bullet list of section titles, much like this, except they would not be linked. While it would still be helpful to users you’d not get the full benefits.
  • You can manually create a list by using HTML or CSS code.  This can be time consuming and a bit fiddly. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. If you do fancy yourself as budding “code expert”, here is a great training by an Internet Marketing colleague of mine – Link to Content
  • If you want to know how to create a table of contents in WordPress the easiest way, then I’d have to say you must use a plugin, and that’s what we will focus on for the rest of this post.

The plugin I recommend is Easy Table of Contents. I like it firstly because it’s free. 🙂 It’s also lightweight, so it should not affect your site’s speed. And it’s easy to use for beginners. The first thing you’ll need to do is install the plugin.

How to Install Easy Table of Contents

Here’s a video I found on YouTube that covers installing and setting up this plugin.

If you would prefer to read about how to install the plugin you can continue doing so here

 

How to set up Easy Table of Contents

You can view how to do this in the video above or continue reading here.

When you click on the settings tab  you will be confronted by a whole page of settings. This can first appear as somewhat daunting but it’s all fairly straight forward. I’l cover the most important settings next.

First you’ll want to choose where you want your table of contents to appear and if and where you want this to be inserted automatically. For most people this will be on posts and pages.

You can disable the automatic insertion using the settings on any individual post or page.

The next settings will help you customize and create a table of contents in WordPress so that it appears exactly as you want it to to display.

Next you’ll be able to customize the appearance of the table in terms of size, colors, fonts etc. 

The last section of settings are more advanced and probably don’t require much tweaking from you except for two areas as I’ve highlighted below.

 

How to Create a Table of Contents in WordPress – Wrap Up 

It might be trendy to use a table of contents right now but it also presents a number of benefits to you as a blogger.

Not only will it make your posts more user friendly but also more Google friendly so exploring how to create a table of contents in WordPress is very worth your time, in my opinion.

I don’t think it’s necessary to have this appear on all your posts but you are in full control in this regard, whether you create your table using code or you use a plugin like Easy Table of Contents.

As always, plugins are very useful but you don’t want to use too many of them. Also, sometimes they do conflict with themes and other plugins. This plugin does have a support page where the author is very helpful. If all else fails, you may have to try your hand at coding the table manually.

Do you use a table of contents on your blog? If so, what method do you use to create yours? Have I missed something you’re dying to share with me?

Got Questions? Something to say? Leave a comment. Let’s chat

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20 Comments

  1. Nate

    This post was extremely helpful to me. I have seen these while checking out other websites, but had no idea why they were important and how to create them. I have bookmarked your article and will be using your step by step instructions to add TOCs to my blog. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Thanks Nate. Great to hear the article was useful. I have to admit, I had no idea that they also played a role in improving one’s SEO but now that I know more, it makes a lot of sense. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  2. Michel

    Thanks for this Mark – it was really helpful.

     I have always wondered how bloggers do this and thought the only way was through doing code and HTML. I had no idea it would be as simple as just adding another plugin to your site. In fact, I should have just thought to search through the plugins but it never occurred to me.

    I am definitely going to try this, as it is a great way to index longer posts and make them more user-friendly.

    I just wondered if this plugin doesn’t slow down the loading up of your blog in any way?

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Michel

      It’s true one can find a plugin for just about anything you want to do on your website, so no surprises there’s one to assist with creating a table of contents.

      That’s a good question too. It’s only 75KB in size so very lightweight and should not slow your site down. I have not found it to slow mine down nor have I seen others raise this as an issue. I guess the best way is to test it on your own site though as every website is unique. 

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment Michel.

      Mark

      Reply
  3. Ola

    These are lovely tips to learn as a blogger and I must commend you for writing this article which is very helpful. 

    I love every tip apart from the coding idea.I’ll leave that to code experts and which it’s also time consuming. Who has spare time?  Thanks too for the video on how to install the plugin which is quite helpful too.

    Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Ola

      Good to hear the article is helpful. I definitely suggest you leave the coding to people who want to get involved with learning that skill, and just use the plugin I suggested. 

      All the best

      Mark 

      Reply
  4. faftop

    Wow! Lovely. It’s exactly what I’ve being seeing, bloggers using tables of content. I always love the way it makes ones posts look. I never knew it required a plugin, but thank God I made an attempt to research on it, and fortunately for me I landed here. So all I need is “Easy Table of Contents”Thanks

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Great to hear you found what you’re looking for. it’s a very easy plugin and does the job well. By the way the probably plug-ins to do whatever it is you can think of when it comes to blogging. But as I said in this post you don’t want to have too many and sometimes they can conflict quite badly with your theme and other plug-ins. I would all works out well for you.

      Mark

      Reply
  5. Shellykh

    Thank you so much for this informative post. I’m new to affiliate marketing business so there is a lot I didn’t know. I didn’t know the benefits of a table of contents but I do now. Good to know that it makes a difference to SEO too. I’ve downloaded the plugin and am busy setting it up.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      You are most welcome. Pleased to help. The plugin is quite easy to use but if you have questions or run into conflicts on your website, the author of the plugin seems to be very approachable. You can find the thread here – Easy Table of Contents Plugin Support 

      Mark 

      Reply
  6. Paul

    Hi Mark, This is an informative article. Thank for the tips on the SEO and Google search advantages by inserting a table of contents.At present, I have placed the subtitles/topics covered in my introduction. Usually, using bullet points or in the form of a sentence. Now, I will have to substitute my method with a table of contents which will give visitors to my sites, a much more pleasant experience.

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Paul 

      Sounds like you are half way there my friend ! To get the full the benefits ensure the points are hyperlinked now, either using the Easy Table of Contents Plugin or by doing some of your own code work. 

      All the best,

      Mark

      Reply
  7. Olalekan

    I must say that I really appreciate this article. In fact I can see how adding a table of contents to articles makes it easy for readers to navigate around blogs. This is what I have not known about or even thought about before.  I really thank you for this as I will now follow the steps in the post to add the table to the contents to my own blog. 

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Awesome! Bloggers must do whatever they can to make their sites attractive as well as functional to readers as it impacts how Google views your website. 

      Mark 

      Reply
  8. John Eather

    Thank you, Mark, for sharing this information. I’ve been scouring the internet for advice on blogging for money. Your clear and thorough explanation of ‘A Table of Contents’ has been very useful to me. I have to admit that setting up a blog is all quite overwhelming because there is just so much info to process, not to mention, the countless number of approaches that are employed by internet marketers. I’m glad that I’ve come across this website and will certainly be checking in here again. Please keep up the awesome work!

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi John

      Great to have you visit and leave a comment. Thanks too for the feedback about this review. 

      You’re right, when starting out, it is a bit overwhelming because there is so much to learn and do. The best thing is to go with one approach and give it a go for as long as you can before you opt for something else. Far too often newbies go in too many directions and in the end get nowhere. I speak from experience too.

      Wishing you all the best

      Mark 

      Reply
  9. Jafor Iqbal

    What a great post. Really it  was a great surprise to find your article as a blogger. I have had some problems with finding out more about how to include a table of contents. There are a few to choose from so I found your article exactly when when I needed it.  I will follow your instructions now and I will install it. Thank you so much for this post. I look forward to your new posts too, 

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Hi Jafor

      I’m pleased the article was useful. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Hopefully the table of contents will work out well on your blog too.

      Mark 

      Reply
  10. Olalekan

    Thanks for posting this article on how to create a table of contents. A table of contents on a blog makes it very user friendly and helps visitors to feel comfortable reading posts they can get around. I was happy to read about this on your site. I have saved this page for later use so I can follow your guide lines in creating a TOC. Thanks

    Reply
    • Mark Baker

      Great to hear this post was useful and thanks for swinging by and leaving a comment. 

      By the way I wrote a review about the Easy Table of Contents Plugin which you may also want to read. Thanks. 

      Mark 

      Reply

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