It sounds stupid but I cannot figure out how to create a TOC
Have you read the help files?
TOC is based on paragraph styles, so you need to assign paragraph styles to the things you want to include, and don't use those styles for anything else.
If you ask som concrete questions we can give you some concrete answers.
Well I love all things in simple language. my best way of learning things is by phone or in A, B, C visuals. I don't even know where to start. I certainly don't know what a paragraph style is, as I squirm admitting this to you.
Most of what I know I just figured out and some good helpers along the way. I never use this except for two of my books [getting ready to print] and I was so intimidated I just begged them to use the PDF files for the other projects.
I admit this is probably asking a lot, since you are used to working with brainiacs, but I would be so grateful for help.
You simply can't do a table of contents until you understand and use paragraph styles. If you don't know what a paragraph style is, I have to step back and suggest that you can't do something as complicated as creating a TOC by the seat of your pants.
If you don't have someone who can tutor or teach you, you need to read a book or look at videos because there are too many concepts to cover to give you a quick answer.
For a book, I'd strongly suggest Sandee Cohen's InDesign QuickStart guides. You can jump to just what you need. Here's a link to the one for InDesign CS6, but she's written them for every version of InDesign (which you've not yet disclosed to us):
You can also use the videos at Lynda.com which are excellent.
What Steve said, for the most part...
If you haven't been using styles I'm sure your document is waht most pros would consider a complete mess, if not a disaster, but it's not a total loss in reality. I'm guessing you must have used some sort of headings that you want to include in the TOC, and that they share some sort of formatting. You can create a paragraph style with that formatting (but you do have to learn about styles first), then use Find/Change to apply it (or if it's just a few chapter titles you can go through and apply them manually in a short time) everywhere that formatting is used. Once that's done you can create a couple of other styles to handle the listings and such inside the TOC, and you're ready to go. Yes, you should be suing paragraph and character styles throoughout the whole document, but you can get away without them if you have to, except for things that need to go into the TOC.
This is helpful, I am beginning to see how it could be difficult beyond what I thought. I am meeting with a girl who is using the 6 version but I cannot even we-transfer my 5.5 version to her. She cannot open it. hmm. Oh, ok I did look up the files offered by Linda.com, but did not see one for the TOC. I am sure it is embedded in there.
I sent you a response saying that my system was MAC OS X LION 10.7.5 and I have the CS Id 5.5 version. Did you see that?
OK, numbering in ID is VERY confusing, as is transferrring files between versions. Version 6 is CS4, CS5.5 is version 7.5, and CS6 is Version 8. Higher version numbers can open files from lower versions, but not vice versa, so the best bet is to have everyone on the same version, but to send files to someone with an older version you can export to .idml, which can be opened by anything from CS4 forward, as long as you understand that any features used but not supported in the version which is opening the file will be lost, and the text engine evolves over time so there will be differnces in how lines wrap (and they can sneak up on you if you have the newer version bnecause they dont change until you click on the text).
You'll find some good video tutorials with these Google searches:
(search Google for these terms without quotes)
* indesign paragraph styles tutorial
* indesign table of contents tutorial
* InDesign paragraph styles in table of contents tutorial
The simple principle is: InDesign creates a TOC by "pulling out" heading paragraphs from your document. To help it know which paragraphs are the headings you want in the TOC, you need to create paragraph styles, and apply them to the heading paragraphs. Then, when you perform Layout > Table of Contents, you choose the heading paragraph styles, and run the process.
It may be daunting if you've never done anything like this. But, if you've done it in MS Word or other word processor, the principle is the same - make the headings identifiable in some way, so the software can extract them.
Look at the video tutorials, create a heading paragraph style, create a TOC, and let us know the result.
If your document is one of several that are gathered into an InDesign book, search Google for terms like "working with InDesign books tutorial," and "InDesign book table of contents tutorial," without quotes.
It would help if you can provide screen shots of your result. Search Google for terms like "how to create a screen shot on mac," or "how to create a screen sot on windows," without quotes. It also helps to display hidden characters when you make the screen shots. Search Google for terms like "how to display InDesign hidden characters," without quotes. Search Google for terms like "how to post a screen shot on an adobe user forum," without quotes.
Thanks so much for helping me and spending the time. I am truly grateful. I finally was shown how to find the menu that would allow me to select the heading, sub heading options which worked well. Now I just need to understand how to format the page numbering so that it lines up near the outside margin instead of right next to the chapter titles.
You need to change the value of wqaht is used between the lisitng and number. To do that click the show more options button in the TOC dialog to expand it fully, then change change what's in the "Between Entry and number" field. INthe screen cap below you'll see ^y which is the meta-character for a right-indent tab which will put the number on the far right of the frame, but you can use a plain tab and define the position in the paragraph style, or a fixed width space if you like instead. If you use the right indent tab you may want to add a nested character style to add a custom dotted underline to the tab itself to act as a leader.