Logical Table of Contents TOC.NCX

This is a requirement imposed by the Amazon Publishing Guidelines.

There is a sample file in the guidelines, but I have yet to find anyone who has been able to make it work.

Internet searches turn up thousands of people talking about it, but little information.

The mysterious "NCX", it turns out, stands for "Navigation Control file for XML applications".

It's a standard imposed by the "National Information Standards Organization, Digital Talking Book Standards Committee", and is intended to help "print disabled persons" navigate through reading material. A full explanation is included in the quote from NISO at the end of this post.

I'll post more about this later, as I find accurate information.

I found some tutorials that may be of help to programmers. I'll post links to them, but you are on your own with these tutorials, since I am not a programmer, I don't know if they work or not.



Below are links to some pertinent websites:




Below is a quote from NISO to explain the Navigation Control File

National Information Standards Organization
Digital Talking Book Standards Committee
Document Navigation Features List

8. Navigation Control File NCX TEXT FILE FORMAT

8.1 Introduction (This section is informative.) The Navigation Control file for XML applications (NCX) exposes the hierarchical structure of a DTB to allow the user to navigate through it. The NCX is similar to a table of contents in that it enables the reader to jump directly to any of the major structural elements of the document, i.e. part, chapter, or section, but it will often contain more elements of the document than the publisher chooses to include in the original print table of contents. It can be visualized as a collapsible tree familiar to PC users. Its development was motivated by the need to provide quick access to the main structural elements of the document without the need to parse the entire marked-up text file, which in many cases may not be present at all. Other elements such as pages, footnotes, figures, tables, etc. can be included in separate, nonhierarchical lists and can be accessed by the user as well. It is important to emphasize that these navigation features are intended as a convenience for users who want them, and not a burden to those who do not.


  1. When they say: "these navigation features are intended as a convenience for users who want them, and not a burden to those who do not" does that mean that the TOC.NCX is optional? I don't have to bother with it? Or is this the only way to have a table of contents in my books?

    To quote Vinnie Barbarino, "Oh, I'm so confused."

  2. An NCX file, usually named toc.ncx, is required for books in the ePub format, where it provides the main Table of Contents navigation. Kindle readers also use the NCX file for navigation, but not as the main Contents list.

    On a Kindle, the NCX file creates "tick marks" in the location bar at the bottom of each page. Readers can quickly move from one tick mark to the next (that is, from Chapter to Chapter, etc.) using the 5-way controller on the Kindle device.

    Last year, Amazon added the NCX file as a new requirement to its Kindle Publishing Guidelines. However, many authors are currently ignoring this requirement, either because they find it difficult or don't know about it.

    The truth is that it's possible, for the moment, to publish your Kindle book without an NCX file. It just won't have tick marks on the location bar. Nevertheless, an NCX file is a nice navigation enhancement for your readers, and many commercially-published Kindle books have this feature.

    Future Kindle eReaders might make use of the NCX file in a manner similar to that of ePub files, which display a nested TOC next to the reading screen. Also, ePub is an increasingly popular open standard for eBooks, used by Adobe Digital Editions and Sony Reader.

    Include an NCX file if you can, as a nice touch for your readers, and to be ready for a time when all eBooks will have them.

    The NCX file is a simple XML file that follows a set pattern, so much of it is copy and paste. See my guest article, Create an NCX File, right here on CJ's Easy as Pie, for more information.

    [Replaced this comment, posted January 30, 2011 1:06 PM to fix broken link. -Araby Greene]