Monday, 12 January 2009

Read my other blog like a book

I recently added a table of contents page to my other blog, Martial Arts and Modern Life, with section headings available from every page of the blog. It should make that blog much easier to read for the someone coming to it for the first time:

The table-of-contents post appears on the left, with chapter headings and links, but the neat "feature" is the table-of-contents that appears on the top-right of my blog, making it easy for me to navigate, and for readers to get an overview and dive in to whatever interests them.

Already I have had some positive feedback about this feature, and I would encourage others to emulate it for the sake of their readers. It seems to make a nice complement to tags, which are a bit more like an index, and archives, which tell you what's new.

The set-up steps in Blogger (it should be similar for other platforms) are:
  1. Invent chapter headings for your blog
  2. Create the table-of-contents blog entry: E.g., or (nowadays) a page and include your chapter headings.
  3. Tag every heading with using Edit HTML in the blogger editor by wrapping it in anchor tags: e.g.
    <a name='chapter1'>Chapter1</a>
  4. Go through all your old posts and put links to the better ones under the appropriate chapters.
  5. Make a text widget that points to your table-of-contents entry and the chapter headings. The hyperlinks from the chapter-headings take the form
    <a href="">Chapter1</a<
  6. Place the text widget somewhere prominent.
Maintenance is even easier:
  • Each time you add a new post that fits your theme, add a link in your table-of-contents post.
  • Occasionally you may want to add a new "chapter", which involves editing the widget as well, but this should be a fairly rare event once you have your categories straight.
Now I just need to apply the same technique to this blog!

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