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The Dynamic Table of Contexts

The Dynamic Table of Contexts provides an online reading environment for electronic scholarly books where the two conventional overviews provided in print editions – the table of contents and the index – have been dynamically merged.

Readers of Dynamic Table of Contexts (DToC) editions can employ the table of contents as an interactive navigation tool, adding and subtracting items from the index into the table of contents in order to better understand where certain topics are discussed. Each of the items in the table of contents is a live link into the reading panel, allowing for easy discontinuous access to selected parts of the book.

DToC provides advanced functionality beyond the index, allowing for customized curating and labeling of the underlying XML (Extensible Markup Language) markup in the edition, as well as a string search, each of which can be used in conjunction with the table of contents.

DToC in Voyant: Sample edition: Regenerations

The Dynamic Table of Contexts interface emerged from a series of design iterations and experimental prototypes under the leadership of Stan Ruecker. With the partnership of the Implementing New Knowledge Environment project, the DToC was further developed and incorporated into the Voyant Tools suite developed by Stéfan Sinclair and Geoffrey Rockwell (Nelson; Brown). Voyant makes the DToC available to scholars and members of the general public to enable the creation of editions of their own. The Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC) adopted the DToC as both a dissemination vehicle for flagship publications, most notably scholarly volumes of essays published in partnership with the University of Alberta Press, of which the first is Regenerations/Régenerations, edited by Marie Carrière and Patricia Demers, and as a means of providing an interface for particular documents or collections within CWRC’s virtual research environment, and to respond to the request from CWRC members to enable them to create their own anthologies of materials.

LEAF has updated the DToC, retaining the current design and improving the process for edition production, and is integrating it into the LEAF VRE (anticipated by early 2024). In partnership with Voyant, LEAF is also developing a stand-alone DToC that parallels the LEAF-Writer Commons, allowing users to create persistent, standalone DToC editions hosted on GitHub.

The features of the Dynamic Table of Contexts Browser interface range from relatively standard ones such as text search, through the dynamic expansion of the table of contents and an abstract document model to display the occurrence of search results, index terms, and underlying XML Markup. The Curator Mode allows readers to reorder and filter sections of the text, as well as relabelling, showing, or suppressing the XML tags.


Brown, Susan, Linda Cameron, Anita Cutic, Mihaela Ilovan, Olga Ivanova, Ruth Knechtel, Andrew MacDonald, Brent Nelson, Stan Ruecker, Stéfan Sinclair, and members of the INKE Research Group. A Experiment in Hybrid Open-Access Online Scholarly Publishing: Regenerations.” Scholarly and Research Communications 7.2 (2016). Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory. Carrière, Marie and Patricia Demers, eds. (2014). Regenerations: Canadian Women Writers/Régénérations:Écriture des femmes au Canada. Digital edition ed. Susan Brown, Mihaela Ilovan and Ruth Knechtel. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2014. Digital edition: Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory, 2014. Web. Nelson, Brent, Stéfan Sinclair, Susan Brown, Milena Radzikowska, Mark Bieber, Stan Ruecker. (2013). “A Short History and Demonstration of the Dynamic Table of Contexts.” Scholarly and Research Communication 3(4). Web. Sinclair, Stéfan and Geoffrey Rockwell. Voyant Tools. 2015.