A Perl program to generate a Table of Contents (ToC) for HTML documents.

For the latest information on htmltoc, see <URL:>.

One caveat about using htmltoc and PNUTS: Both tools modify the HTML files specified for processing by them; therefore, the system date of those files changes; and that date change will be reflected in any "chtml date" coding that those HTML files may contain. (PNUTS is a tool which will insert links to defined "previous" and "next" files.)


htmltoc allows you to specify "significant elements" that will be hyperlinked to in a "Table of Contents" (ToC) for a given set of HTML documents.

Basically, the ToC generated is a multi-level level list containing links to the significant elements. htmltoc inserts the links into the ToC to significant elements at a level specified by the user.


If H1s are specified as level 1, than they appear in the first level list of the ToC. If H2s are specified as a level 2, than they appear in a second level list in the ToC.

See ToC Map File on how to tell htmltoc what are the significant elements and at what level they should occur in the ToC.

In standard operation, the created ToC is sent to standard output, or to the file specified by the -toc command-line option. For more information on controlling the contents of the created ToC, see Formatting the ToC.

htmltoc also supports the ability to incorporate the ToC into the HTML document itself via the -inline command-line option. This only works if a single HTML file is being processed. See Inlining the ToC for more information.

In order for htmltoc to support linking to significant elements, htmltoc inserts anchors into the significant elements. Since this requires modification of the original HTML document(s), the originals are backed up with a ".org" suffix appended to the filenames.

The following sections give more information on htmltoc:


htmltoc is invoked from a Unix shell, with the following syntax:

% htmltoc [options] file ... > tocfile
% htmltoc -toc tocfile [options] file ...
% htmltoc -inline [options] file

The following options are available:

-entrysep string

Use string as the entry separator for same level entries that are specified not to use the LI element to list each entry. The default value is ", ". See Formatting the ToC for more information.

-footer filename

Append filename, containing HTML markup, to the end of the ToC. This option is invalid when the -inline option is specified.

-header filename

Prepend filename, containing HTML markup, to the beginning of the ToC. The desired format of filename is slightly different if the ToC is being inlined, or is an external document. See Formatting the ToC and Inlining the ToC for more information.


Short message giving all options available to htmltoc.


Insert ToC into the document being processed. This options is only valid if one HTML file is being processed. See Inlining the ToC for more information on this option.


htmltoc normally backs up the original HTML files with a ".org" extension. When this option is specified, htmltoc will remove the backup files when done.


Put level 1 ToC entries in an order list (OL).

-prefix string

Use string as the prefix for ID values used in NAME/HREF attributes in anchors (A) for linking ToC entries to the document(s). The default prefix is "xtocid".


htmltoc normally prints out informative messages on what it is doing. This option suppress these messages.


htmltoc by default, preserves HTML markup that exists in a significant element to appear in the ToC. This options tells htmltoc to only use the textual content of the ToC element. If this option is not specified, htmltoc will still ignore the following tags: A, HR, P, IMG.

-title string

Set the title, (i.e. TITLE element) of the generated ToC document to string. This option has no affect if the -header or -inline options are specified. The default title is "Table of Contents".

-toc file

By default, the ToC is sent to standard output (unless the -inline option is specified). This option explicitly tells htmltoc to output the ToC to file.

-toclabel string

Put string before ToC. This option has no effect if the -header option is specified. The default ToC label is "<H1>Table of Contents</H1>".

-tocmap filename

Use filename as the ToC map file. By default, htmltoc only indexes H1s and H2s. See ToC Map File for more information.


This option tells htmltoc to use the ".org" backup files already existing. In normal operation, htmltoc copies the files to be processed to the same filenames with ".org" suffixes. Then, htmltoc reads the ".org" files to find significant elements, and writes the new (modified) files to the filenames without the ".org" suffix. This operation gives the appearance that the files were editted in-place.

In other words, the -useorg option tells htmltoc not to perform the initial copying of the files to ".org" files. However, if a ".org" file does not exist for a given file, htmltoc will perform the initial copy operation.

Any arguments that are not part of the command-line options are treated as HTML files to be processed.

When htmltoc is running, htmltoc will normally output some informative messages on what htmltoc is doing, or done. These messages can be suppressed via the -quiet option.

ToC Map File

The ToC map file allows you to tell htmltoc what significant elements to include in the ToC, what level they should appear in the ToC, and any text to include before and/or after the ToC entry. The format of the map file is as follows:


Each line of the map file contains a series of fields separated by the `:' character. The definition of each field is as follows:


The tag name of the significant element. Example values are H1, H2, H5. This field is case-insensitive.


What level the significant element occupies in the ToC. This valid must be numeric, and non-zero. If the value is negative, consective entries represented by the significant_element will be separated by the value set by -entrysep option.

sig_element_end (Optional)

The tag name that signifies the termination of the significant_element.

Example: The DT tag is a marker in HTML and not a container. However, one can index DT sections of a definition list by using the value DD in the sig_element_end field (this does assume that each DT has a DD following it).

If the sig_element_end is empty, then the corresponding end tag of the specified significant_element is used. Example: If H1 is the significant_element, than htmltoc looks for a "</H1>" for terminating the significant_element.

Caution: the sig_element_end value should not contain the `<` and `>' tag delimiters. If you want the sig_element_end to be the end tag of another element than that of the significant_element, than use "/element_name".

The sig_element_end field is case-insensitive.

before_text,after_text (Optional)

This is literal text that will be inserted before and/or after the ToC entry for the given significant_element. The before_text is separated from the after_text by the `,' character (which implies a comma cannot be contained in the before/after text). See examples following for the use of this field.

In the map file, the first two fields MUST be specified.

Following are a few examples to help illustrate how a ToC map file works.

Example 1

The following map file reflects the default mapping htmltoc uses if no map file is explicitly specified:

# Default mapping for htmltoc
# Comments can be inserted in the map file via the '#' character
H1:1 # H1 are level 1 ToC entries
H2:2 # H2 are level 2 ToC entries

Example 2

The following map file makes use of the before/after text fields:

# A ToC map file that adds some formatting
H1:1::<STRONG>,</STRONG>      # Make level 1 ToC entries <STRONG>
H2:2::<EM>,</EM>              # Make level 2 entries <EM>
H2:3                          # Make level 3 entries as is

Example 3

The following map file tries to index definition terms:

# A ToC map file that can work for Glossary type documents
DT:3:DD:<EM>,</EM>    # Assumes document has a DD for each DT, otherwise ToC
                      # will get entries with alot of text.

Example 4

The following map file demonstrates how one can bastardize the use HTML elements:

# A ToC map file that wraps ToC entries in header tags. This is illegal
# HTML, but it looks pretty good in Mosaic.

Formatting the ToC

The ToC Map File gives you control on how the ToC entries may look, but htmltoc has other options to affect the final appearance of the ToC file created.

With the -header option, htmltoc will prepend the contents of the file before the generated ToC. This allows you to have introductory text, or any other text, before the ToC.


If you use the -header option, make sure the file specified contains the opening HTML tag, the HEAD element (containing the TITLE element), and the opening BODY tag. However, these tags/elements should not be in the header file if the -inline options is used. See Inlining the ToC for information on what the header file should contain for inlining the ToC.

With the -footer option, htmltoc will append the contents of the file after the generated ToC.


If you use the -footer, make sure it includes the closing BODY and HTML tags.

htmltoc will add the appropriate HTML markup to if either the -header or -footer option is not specified to insure a valid HTML document is created for the ToC.

If you do not want/need to deal with header, and footer, files, then htmltoc allows you specify the title, -title option, of the ToC file; and it allows you to specify a heading, or label, to put before ToC entries' list, the -toclabel option. Both options have default values, see Usage for more information on each option.

Inlining the ToC

htmltoc supports the ability to incorporating the ToC directly into an HTML document via the -inline option. Inlining can only occur if one, and ONLY one, HTML file is being processed, AND the HTML file contains an opening BODY tag.

The ToC generated is inserted right after the opening BODY tag, and before any other HTML markup in the file. If the -header option is specified, then the contents of the specified file are inserted after the BODY tag, but before the ToC. Otherwise, htmltoc inserts the text specified by the -toclabel option.


The header file should not containing the beginning HTML tag and HEAD element since the HTML file being processed should already contains these tags/elements.




Hopefully, they have been fixed.

Earl Hood,

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