Books in my own library with contents pages that interest me

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One of two things I enjoy most about working on a book is designing the table of contents (the other is designing the running heads/folios). For me, the TOC is like a good concierge or a maître d: it directs you to where you want to go, helps you find what you’re looking for, and ultimately tells you whether the page is worth turning. Just as it is important to have front of house staff be well-mannered and properly groomed, the “front of house” of a good book should also be suitably primped and primed. After all, what else can be more pleasant and appealing than a well-designed, well-ordered list?


1) 13th Istanbul Biennial Guide (designed by Ruben Pater, LAVA Design): A beautifully executed identity translates into one brilliant TOC.

01_Istanbul Biennale


2) Volume: Writings on Graphic Design, Music, Art and Culture (designed by Jiwon Lee): You don’t immediately see the page numbers tucked away carefully in the gutter when you open a new copy of this book. It’s like biting into a chocolate egg and finding a yummy surprise in the middle.



3) Leon: Fast Vegetarian (designed by Anita Mangan): This book just makes me smile. Note the beer icon for the “Rice & Curry” section.

03_Leon Vegetarian


4) Sometimes I Think, Sometimes I Am (designed by Sara Fanelli and Bruno Monguzzi): A disordered TOC sans page numbers? GASP!

04_Sometimes I think


5) Rainbow Tarts (designed by Emilie Guelpa): I thought nothing could excite me more than a spanking new Pantone swatch book. This book did.

05_Pop Tarts


6) Scratching the Surface (designed by Elena Carl and Adrian Shaughnessy): Fluoro pink + triple digit page numbers + mono spaced type + lots of white space = a book designer’s wet dream

06_Scratching the Surface


7) Eye Magazine, editions published in the early 2000’s (designed by Jayne Robinson and Kate Mansell): Winner of Reg’s The Most User-Friendly TOC Ever — there are three pages of contents: a text-only list with summaries of each of the articles, an editorial that incorporates page numbers, and visual contents.




8) Can We Drink the Ocean? (designed by Isabel Roxas): This reminds me of those really cute credits at the beginning or the end of a good animated film.

08_Can We Drink the Ocean


9) From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association (designed by Deb Wood and Bree Ann Apperley): Nice, but perhaps should have been properly handwritten rather than using a handwritten typeface.

09_From Here to There


10) India Cookbook (designed by Frost Design): I can’t really talk about the TOC without putting it into the context of the entire book. The TOC, section dividers and photographs are strategically interspersed in between large sections of text laid out with Swiss-like precision. It’s a very clever mix of clinical design and that distinctive, visually-rich Indian aesthetic.



11) Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe (designed by Tim Leong): My guilty nerdy pleasure.



12) The Time Book index (designed by some poor in-house designer at Candlewick Press who didn’t get a credit line in the book; I feel your pain, bro!): This falls under the “Back of House” category but imparts that tingle of rebellious excitement whenever I have to turn a book sideways or upside-down.

12_Time Book


13) Mr Wilkison’s Favourite Vegetables (designed by Studio Racket): I think ITALIC SANS SERIF ALL CAPS are very sexy.

14_Mr Wilkisons Vegetables


14) My Abuela’s Table (designed by Daniella Germain): A fully hand-drawn TOC is also very sexy.

15_My Abuela's Kitchen


15) The Shelf Journal (designed by The Shelf Company): Only the French are able to bring sophistication to lame puns.



16) Vegetables from an Italian Garden (designed by Astrid Stavro): A clean, understated but highly effective navigation system with matching colour-coded ribbons for each section.

16_Vegetables from an Italian Garden


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