I love this!

October 13, 2010

Contributed by Mary on the HATT list in a  discussion about the value of a table of contents (TOC) in online Help:

Help without a TOC is like a body without a skeleton: amoeba-like and amorphous, and really hard to get a grip on.

She also states:

To me, the TOC serves a purpose that neither an index nor a search function can: it articulates how it all fits together. It’s essential for the writer of good online help and, at a minimum, extremely helpful to the user who takes a bit of time to peruse it. It provides structure, demonstrates hierarchy, and defines relationships.

I couldn’t have said it better myself!


  1. Yes, and a TOC also supplies context. It helps the reader to understand how and where the information fits into the big picture. This in turn helps to come back to the same information at a later time. Full text (“Google”) search can be fast when you don’t know where to look for, but it can be slow if you want to return to a page that you have read before.

  2. Thanks! I also enjoyed that post in HATT, and I’m the one who asked the original question. :-) I had to ask it because I’m being asked about whether anyone is using the help TOC, but I feel like you do and like Mary does. We just need to get the numbers and anecdotes to keep it around.

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