How to use sections as TOC entries? [closed]

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Closed for the following reason the question is answered, right answer was accepted by Alex Kemp close date 2015-10-30 20:44:15.294393

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The answer by @ROSt52 is effectively correct and I have marked it up. What I want to address in this answer is a different aspect of your question: what do you mean by your use of the term "section"? There is a conceptual and practical aspect to any answer to this question that I want to explain.

The TLDR version of this answer is: There is no method I know of for pulling instances of the <text:section> element from a Writer (ODT) document and using them as a basis for generating a table of contents (ToC). A ToC is based on Paragraph styles / automatically inserted bookmarks. Avoid using the section facility in word processing software to break-up content, use a text style instead.

Definition of 'section'

In typography a section was historically a device to divide a lengthy chapter into more digestible pieces (Wikipedia source). A flourish (graphic swirl) or three asterisks were the common method of illustrating a section break. Related to this idea is the use of the section sign § (U+00a7). In the provided source it is worth noting that "in written narrative such as fiction, sections are not usually numbered or named" but instead are "used to signal various changes in a story, including changes in time, location, point-of-view character, mood, tone, emotion, and pace."

More recently (and generally) documents are considered to be divided into sections according to their "headings and subheadings, which may be used for a table of contents." Thus, what @ROSt52 has answered is correct in this respect: you need only define your required headings and pull these into your ToC. If you are referring to a section as a formatting mark used to alter page layout (as per MS Word) or the text area of a page (as per LO Writer), that is an altogether different consideration.

MS Word

Since the advent of MS Word and its encoding of a section as a formatting mark most people seem to use this term in similar manner, whether they realise it or not. MS took the concept of a section (that of division) and used it as a way of designating changes in appearance. In simple terms they encoded it to allow for changes in the "layout or formatting of a page or pages in your document" (MS Office Word Help source). More specifically a "section break acts as an embedded code ...

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@oweng - thanks for this great additional explanation!!!

( 2013-04-28 05:27:01 +0200 )edit

I often wrap lists of short items in sections and I see this division as being both presentational and semantic: my lists’ sections are named according to the content and status of the list; visually, this also allows me to lay out the list on two columns so that it takes up less space. This is both meaningful and æsthetically sound. I have recently noticed that reference lists on Wikipedia are now laid out on two columns when the browser supports the CSS3 multi-column layout module.

( 2013-04-29 16:30:02 +0200 )edit
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Thanks for pointing out a case where the two converge. I don't deny that there are such cases, however they are less common that the usage of the term "section" when describing documents in general. A section, as you have described it, is also useful for cross-referencing (semantically).

( 2013-04-30 01:38:28 +0200 )edit

Yes, and in this sense they are also similar to HTML div elements and LaTeX environments.

( 2013-04-30 03:16:20 +0200 )edit

If you can give each section a heading name it will automatically go into the TOC;. However this depends on how you want to structure your document.

Otherwise I recommend to read the help file and/or

All depends very much of what you want to layout and structure your document.

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