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Easy table of contents that links to text, on wordpress.com

  1. Hi,
    I'm new to WordPress and have very little knowledge of HTML.
    I'm trying to find the simplest way to create a table of contents, in the sidebar if possible, but otherwise on a page I could call "site content" or something.
    I'd like the table of contents to link to pages, but I'd also like to link to specific content within a page, which is not easy to do. I've tried everything to avoid having to manually write HTML, and have tried the main widgets provided, but haven't found any way to do this on WordPress.com. For the moment I want to stick to wordpress.com and unfortunately that means no plugins.

    The only thing I've been able to do is to create a table of contents in simple text using a text widget, but these are not clickable (and look pretty ugly).

    This is my blog/site: http://budgetbirdwatching.wordpress.com/binoculars-with-a-small-budget/

    I'd appreciate any tips!

    Andy

    The blog I need help with is budgetbirdwatching.wordpress.com.

  2. In a text widget you'd need coding for links and coding for lists - see here:
    http://wpbtips.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/codes-useful-for-text-widgets/

    Two solutions if you wish to create a list of links to pages etc. without HTML:

    a) Go to Appearance > Menus and create a custom menu, then go to Appearance > Widgets, add a Custom Menu widget and select the menu you created. Instructions here:
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/menus/

    b) Go to Links > Add New, create the links, assign them all to the same link category ("Site Contents" in your case), then go to Appearance > Widgets and add a Links widget.

    But if you want to link to "specific content within a page", there's no way you can avoid coding. Instructions here:
    http://wpbtips.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/links-to-specific-points-on-a-page/

  3. IMO, a more useful way to present your information would be to use posts rather than pages. If each "section" were a post, then you could use archives shortcode to link to each post.

    http://en.support.wordpress.com/archives-shortcode/

    For example, you could make individual posts for each of these topics:
    Different types of binoculars
    Meaning of the numbers
    Standard, Mid-size and compact
    Magnification: 8x or 10x
    Porro and Roof
    Then categorize them as "Binoculars"

    Posts and pages are different from each other, and the distinction is important to understand when it comes to organizing your site:
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/post-vs-page/
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/pages/
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/pages/

  4. Thanks a lot for the tips and links. That's taken care of creating links to separate pages or posts.
    I tried the custom menu option, but then all the linked pages also appear in the menu.
    I guess I could live with that...

    Looks like the only thing I'm really stuck on are the links to a specific text in a page. I'm not sure what to do with that: I like more the idea of a longer article with several sections rather than splitting up everything into separate pages or posts. Everything seems to get so fragmented that way. But writing code is definitely more time consuming, and has a real potential for disaster, at least in my case!

    Regarding the post vs. pages: if I understood correctly, a lot of guides and how to's stress the fact that pages are best used for static content that needs to be organized in a hierarchical structure, like a traditional website , while posts are more intended for time/date sensitive content, and social media.
    If this is right, then shouldn't I stick to pages? The content is supposed to be static, and I do want to organize it with a hierarchical/website structure...

  5. "I tried the custom menu option, but then all the linked pages also appear in the menu.
    I guess I could live with that..."

    No: You can create another custom menu for your top nav menu.

  6. Ok, I think I got it Panos.
    It seems that whatever menu I choose for top navigation, also appears in the sidebar.

    But if I want a "table of contents" (like I've made in the text widget) with links to pages AND specific parts of text, then I'd need to use Links (your second suggestion) instead of menu's, right?
    Is it possible then to give the links a hierarchical structure?

  7. "It seems that whatever menu I choose for top navigation, also appears in the sidebar."

    No! You can create as many different menus (groups of links) as you like. One of them will be your top nav menu: the one you select from the Theme Locations pulldown in Appearance>Menus. The other menus will appear in your sidebar if you add Custom Menu widgets in Appearance>Widgets and select the menus you want from the widget pulldowns.

  8. Right. Sorry. I'm just learning how this works...
    I added all my menus to the sidebar with the custom menu widget, including the one chosen for the top navigation menu. No wonder it was showing up there!

    I also noticed that I can add custom links to the custom menus, so that means I'll be able to add links to specific parts of text on a page.

    I guess this solves the issue:
    Being able to give a custom menu a title, then adding links to it, and dragging it to the sidebar, does allow to create a table of contents divided by subject (menu title). It's even possible to create a hierarchy by dragging a link in a custom menu to the right or to the left. Great.

    Pity there's no widget for avoiding to have to write code for links to specific locations on a page, but maybe that's asking to much.

    Thanks a lot for your help!

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