Table of contents poll

It’s rather exciting around here as WriteShop Primary Book A comes into the final stretch! Sallie, our editor, has put her stamp of approval on our last few lessons. Meanwhile, our graphic designer, David, continues adding finishing touches to the cover and page layouts. Soon you’ll get a chance to see some of the cover designs and vote for your favorite!

Here on the home front, I’m working up index topics and a table of contents (TOC). OK, dear blog readers. Assuming a book has an index, how much detail do you like to see in its TOC? (Note: this book is a Teacher’s Manual for a K-2nd grade writing program.)

OPTION 1: Lesson headings only

Lesson 1
Lesson 2
Lesson 3

OPTION 2: A breakdown of lessons into major components

Lesson 1

  • Activity Set 1
  • Activity Set 2
  • Activity Set 3
  • Activity Set 4

OPTION 3: A more detailed breakdown into major AND minor components

Lesson 1

  • Activity Set 1
    • Guided Writing Practice
  • Activity Set 2
    • Guided Writing Practice
    • Pre-writing Activities
  • Activity Set 3
    • Guided Writing Practice
    • Brainstorming

So…here are my two questions:

  1. Do you tend to refer more to an index or a table of contents?
  2. In light of Question #1, which of the above TOC choices appeals to you the most?

We look forward to your comments and feedback!

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#1 Dianna Wiebe on 03.05.08 at 7:26 am

I use the TOC more than an index, so option 3 is my favorite.

#2 Malia on 03.05.08 at 8:31 am

I like more details. I use the index and TOC differently. Will it be a reference book or one you read straight through only once? If you want it pulled off the shelf as a reference later, make a good index. I like a more detailed TOC, regardless of the index.

#3 Mary Nix on 03.05.08 at 8:33 am

I prefer number 3.

#4 Kimm Bellotto on 03.05.08 at 8:38 am

I like the index style of option 3. It’s nice to be able to see at a glance, what is in each section.

#5 Kim on 03.05.08 at 9:25 am

Good question, Malia. This a Teacher’s Manual for a primary-level writing curriculum. Even though most parents will go through the book only once (or at least once per child), they may need to refer back to something taught in an earlier lesson. If there’s no immediate reference, we’re hoping the index will meet that need.

I think I’ll go back and edit the post to make it clearer!

#6 Donna C, author of Homeschooling Only One on 03.05.08 at 9:43 am

I do refer to the Index/Table of Contents, especially when I’m buying a book. If it’s detailed, it can give me a enough information to give me a good overview of the book itself. Also, if I’m needing to go back (or go forward) with my student, I can find what I’m looking for with more information in the Table of Contents. So I vote for Option 3. :)

#7 Michelle Miller on 03.05.08 at 10:44 am

Option 3. The user can always ignore detail if not needed, but they cannot insert it to meet their desires. It’s up to the author to provide it. And I do use it when previewing for purchase also. I know that our customers let me know they wanted us to add TOCs to our guides. So glad we finally got to it.

#8 Erica Fischer on 03.05.08 at 12:25 pm

I prefer Option 3. I love to peruse the TOC before reading, or even buying a book. Index is nice, but TOC is more helpful to learn the book layout and design. Best wishes!

#9 Dana Wilson, Epi Kardia Home Education on 03.05.08 at 6:47 pm

I like more details in my TOC; it makes it easier to quickly understand the layout of the book and the material covered, as well as help me find things quickly. I vote for Option 3.

#10 Kim Schultz on 03.06.08 at 9:24 pm

Option 3 please!

#11 Maxine Randall on 03.07.08 at 5:17 am

I always check the index. I suppose I agree with everyone else about Option 3, but my initial reaction was Option 2.

#12 Kim on 03.07.08 at 8:15 am

Thanks for weighing in on this, ladies. You made a great case for a detailed TOC, so Option 3 it is!

#13 Diane Burton on 03.07.08 at 10:27 pm

The more details the better; option 3 gets my vote

#14 Dawn Hunnewell on 03.08.08 at 3:35 pm

I like option #3 better. I use the table of contents before purchasing and afterwards for planning lessons. If I like the book enough to keep it, I refer to the index when looking for specific topics.

#15 Chris Rockers on 03.09.08 at 1:37 pm

I prefer option 3. I love your program. Are you going to offer one for 4-5th graders?

#16 Kim on 03.09.08 at 1:53 pm

Thank you for the kudos, Chris! Yes, we do have plans for a 4th-5th grade program, but it’s still a dream in the works. It takes so long to take a book from inception to public release, so it will be several years before an upper-elementary WriteShop comes out.

And I appreciate your input on the TOC. We’ve definitely decided to choose Option 3.

#17 Dena Wood on 03.09.08 at 2:17 pm

I agree. Option 3 is my favorite. Better to offer too much info than too little.

#18 Tracy Colvin on 03.10.08 at 5:05 am

I love option 3. When you are rushing around trying to prepare lesson plans, you need, well I need, as much information as quickly as possible.

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