How to Create a NCX Table of Contents for Amazon Upload Using Calibre

I have to say that as well as proofreading, creating a NCX table of contents is something I would be more than happy to outsource to a professional and pay for. I’d recommend that if you can afford it. Considering my mission to learn all the aspects of self-publishing myself though, as well as the fact that not all Indies have the couple of hundred bucks in their budgets for this, I decided to figure it out myself. I must admit that I wasn’t keen to load any file on to Amazon that wasn’t a nice clean HTML conversion, so I updated my already published books using Calibre with some trepidation. They all worked out very nicely, and now that I understand the logic behind this method I’m all for it. The table of contents we did before works very well for getting a nice clickable table in the front or back of your book, depending where you want to put it, but it doesn’t generate a table of contents in the Go To menus of kindle devices, so this new process should be the one we use because a Logical NCX is mandatory for Amazon.

First of all forget all the heading styles. We’re going to stick to Normal Style for chapter headings for this. Obviously centre them if you like, but keep all your formatting plain as you can.

Choose a page for your book’s table of contents. I used the page directly after the copyright page.

Type out your heading titles or simply Chapter One and so on.

Now you must bookmark each chapter heading in the book individually. Go to each one and highlight it, then go to the Insert ribbon and click on Bookmark. Type your bookmark name without using spaces, for instance, chap1, then click Add. Carry on till you’re done, and then go back to your typed out table of contents, highlight the words Table of Contents and insert a bookmark called toc.

TOC Add Bookmarks

Go through your typed table of contents by highlighting each item, then right click and choose Hyperlink. Select “Place in this document” from the menu in the box. Pick the associated bookmark and click OK. Do this till you’ve done them all.
Next, using the Ctrl Click function from your table of contents, go to each chapter heading and use Highlight > Insert > Hyperlink to link them all back to the bookmark labelled toc.

TOC Link

Remove all hidden bookmarks by clicking on Insert > Bookmarks to open the box. Click the “Hidden Bookmarks” box and find any bookmarks that you haven’t added yourself and get rid of all of those by clicking on them and pushing the Delete button in the box.

TOC Hidden Bookmarks

Now save your manuscript and make a copy – just in case, and then use the Save As – Webpage, filtered to get your HTML copy. Don’t worry about the warning that pops up. Save it anyway.

Open Calibre and select Add Book from the top left. Download it for free if you haven’t yet. Find and click on your HTML file. Then click on Convert Book, also in the top ribbon. Fill in the title and your name at the top – this makes it easier to find later. Load up the book’s cover. Don’t load your cover as in the screenshot. You don’t need to for this ePub, and you will upload it on it’s own on Amazon..


UPDATE:  Amazon will no longer be accepting MOBI files that have not been created using their own software.  I will leave the screenshots as they are below, but the procedure will be slightly different.  This is how to do this now. Select ePub output in Calibre.  Select Force Table of Contents.  Click OK.  Open your Kindle Previewer.  Click Add Book.  Browse for the ePub by going to your Calibre Library situated in the My Documents folder, and select the ePub book you will find there.  The previewer will tell you that it has created the file using KindleGen.  You will find this MOBI file in the same folder that Calibre created with the ePub in it.  Use this MOBI file to load directly on to Amazon.

Go and have a look in each of the boxes down the left of your screen, mainly to familiarise yourself with all options. There’s no reason to be wary of playing around – just delete and start again. Select ePub as OUTPUT in the top right of the page.  Go to the Table of Contents and select Force Table of Contents.  Push OK and wait for the conversion to finish.

Calibre force

When Click to Open appears under the cover picture, click on that, and it will take you to the ePub copy in your Calibre library. When you create a MOBI file for your own purposes, clicking on it and it will open in your Kindle for PC.

Calibre TOC in Kindle PC

Open the Amazon Previewer.

Calibre Previewer

Have a look how it will appear on the three devices there, and check that both your table of contents and also your NCX table of contents are there from the buttons at the top. Then go to the MOBI file that the previewer has created situated in the folder in your Calibre library and that will be what you load up to Amazon when you start the publishing process. Do a double check by downloading the preview MOBI from Amazon after that, as well as using their online previewer to be a hundred percent sure that all the formatting and breaks in your book are looking good, as well as your NCX table of contents.

Calibre Previewer tocCalibre Previewer ncx view

Last but not least. Typing in the correct code and splitting a book up to generate a NCX table of contents is obviously the correct way to go, but not for people who don’t understand HTML much better than most intrepid Indies. You can happily load the Calibre and Previewer MOBI up this way, because you are following their guidelines properly. The way I understand the NCX TOC is that it’s some sort of hidden “spine” in the metadata of a book. Calibre does all that magical stuff for us. and the previewer does the rest without us having to learn computer coding at all..

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