Have you ever wrote a really long blog post and then realized a table of contents would come in handy to make it more user-friendly?

Not only does a table of contents allow a user to jump directly to the section they want to read, it also makes your posts more SEO friendly as Google automatically adds a ‘jump to’ section link when your site appears in the search results.

An elegant way to add table of contents comes in the plugin, Table of Contents Plus.

Table of Contents Plus plugin

Install Table of Contents plugin

Table of Contents Plus plugin is small (and free) plugin that allows you to add a table of contents to your WordPress posts and pages but it also has the ability to generate sitemaps and visual indexes of your content.

Aside from using it in your posts or on your pages, you can also display it in a sidebar widget.

Let’s see how to add a table of contents to your posts.

Step 1: Go to your Dashboard, click on Plugins and search for Table of Contents Plus.

Step 2: Install the plugin.

Step 3: Activate the plugin.

Now that the plugin is installed and activated, there are some settings you need to tweak so let’s do that right now.

Step 4: Go to Settings > TOC+. You will be presented with the following screen.

Settings

The settings screen has 3 tabs: Main Options, Sitemap and Help.

The first setting is deciding where you want the table of contents to appear: before or after the first heading, at the top or at the bottom. I recommend leaving that one as is, but you are welcome to change it to your liking.

Next you can see that the plugin has been configured to insert a table of contents if your post has 4 or more headings. You can change this number to a higher or a lower value.

After that you need to check the box next to posts if you want a table of contents to automatically appear in posts as well as pages.

With this option you have to bear in mind that the plugin will always insert a table of contents whenever you have more than 4 headings present.

This is great if you usually write shorter posts and don’t want to forget the table of contents on the rare occasion when you do write a longer post.

However, if you regularly write longer posts, but don’t want to automatically insert a table of contents then you can either:

a) disable that option entirely and manually insert a table of contents with a shortcode or

b) leave that option checked and insert into any future post that you don’t want table of contents for

Next few options are strictly for presentation purposes, you can leave them as is or change them to your liking.

Finally you can choose between several skins and change the way the look of the table of content, or you can create your own by clicking on Custom and then tweaking the options there.

Under the Advanced section, there are a few more “power” options that you can tweak, such as exclude certain headings from appearing in the table of contents, ensuring anchors are in lowercase, and how deep you want you heading levels to go.

In Page Example

Sitemap functionality

If you ever wanted to give a visual representation of your blog, an index of sorts, you can easily do that with Table of Contents Plus.

All you have to do is create a new page and insert the sitemap shortcode into it(it’s just ‘sitemap’ with square brackets around it). The plugin will take care of the rest, meaning it will automatically create a sitemap of all your pages and categories.

What’s even better, this also works with a text widget.

Text Widget

 And that’s all there is to it! It’s a simple plugin that delivers on its promise in a simple and straightforward way.

Conclusion

With the rise of long-form content, adding a table of contents to your blog post is an easy way to improve the user experience of your content.

Your visitors will be able to jump to the section they want, instead of endlessly scrolling. And they’ll be so glad you added a table of contents!

Posted by Ana Lynn Amelio

Ana Lynn Amelio is a WordPress designer and freelance blogger. When she isn't busy running her own small business Ley Design she can be found reading, enjoying Italian food, and helping her kids go through not-so-secret cookie stash. Follow her on Twitter or say hi on Google+