Table of Contents (TOC)

Articulate Sep 19, 2021

The Concept

Definition (Explicit)

First few pages of a book. List of headers, titles, etc. that summarise key findings of a book with relevant page numbers as a reference. Useful for navigation.

Definition (Tacit)

Physical embodiment of an outliner. eg. if we have a very limited [[Roam]] graph of a book (Assuming a book is a closed/constrained knowledge graph)

It is a form of outline as per [[Ramses Oudt]]:

How I figured out the power of ToCs

Going into a library and looking at the TOC of a book: You can get a good idea of what key ideas exist within the book.

So outliners -> compressed, highly-detailed versions of TOCs. But to understand the impact of that, I needed to understand the power of TOCs.

For outliners:

Also the power of a [[Table of Contents (TOC)]] dictates your ability to create [[🔫Gunpowder]] even before you start.

The Advantage

Useful for navigation:

  • They give us direction in terms of asking questions
  • They give us direction in terms of navigation. What if we only want one header's worth of insight? All good - the TOC helps us with going there

The Flaw

Badly-written TOCs cannot provoke you to start your own sets of questions.

If a book has a badly-written TOC, we won't know the skeleton/spine/main points that drive the narrative behind the book

Not provocative = not fun!

The Application

The Rewrite Exercise

A potential exercise to do before you start writing [[📖Booknotes]] on anything.

If you craft a list of questions dedicated to a certain field, that is a [[Table of Contents (TOC)]] outlining the extent of your curiosity.

Crafting a list of questions nested under each TOC header's title gives you two types of information:

  • An estimate on the information provided when guessing what will be covered in this book
  • A list of questions that you have as a reference to be answered as you go through the chapters

Starting off with what we don't know, and articulating that through questions, receiving it as answers (as we're reading the book) = growth for the knowledge worker.

For reference: [[Ali Abdaal: Content Creation, Creativity, The Perfect Note-Taking App]] (1:10:42)

Progression Log

  • [[August 27th, 2021]] 00:10 Initiated this properly



Norman Chella is the Podcast Rainmaker, Polymath in Progress and a very strange writer. His creative pen name is N.T. Cloever. You can find his words right here.

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