Word7 question: leading dots in TOC

Subject: Word7 question: leading dots in TOC
From: John Bell <john_bell -at- C-STONE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 1997 11:26:08 -0500

Hi Patricia

I don't use Word, so I can't help you fix the problem.

My advice is to not use leader dots in a TOC at all.
Although it is trendy now to use leader dots, standard typography
practices are to use an em space between the heading and the page
number in a TOC.

For example, look at the TOC in your Chicago Manual of Style.
You will see something like this:

1 The Parts of a Book 3
2 Manuscript Preparation and Copyediting 47
3 Proofs 105

Had they right aligned the page numbers, the TOC would become
hard to read. Leader dots provide some relief from that by
providing a means whereby a reader can track from a short entry
to a right-aligned page number. However, it has two major
disadvantages:
1) The reader must take the time to track from a short entry to
a right-aligned number. Why make the reader do extra effort?
2) It fills the page with yet more symbols. The soul of good
writing is to be concise. Leader dots provide no information,
they are a tracking aid only.

By using an em space you do not require the reader to expend
unnecessary effort or time, nor do you clutter the page with
extraneous symbols.

Another trend I have noticed in many manuals is to title the TOC
as "Table of Contents". Although we call it a table of contents
informally, the title should simply be "Contents".

--- John Bell
john_bell -at- c-stone -dot- com

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