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A table of contents (TOC) is a special list in which the titles of the section units are listed, together with the page numbers indicating the start of the sections. This list can be rather complicated if units from several nesting levels are included, and it should be formatted carefully because it plays an important rôle as a navigation aid for the reader.

Similar lists exist containing reference information about the floating elements in a document—namely, the list of tables and the list of figures. The structure of these lists is simpler, as their contents, the captions of the floating elements, are normally all on the same level (but see Section 6.5.2).

Standard LaTeX can automatically create these three contents lists. By default, LaTeX enters text generated by one of the arguments of the sectioning commands into the .toc file. Similarly, LaTeX maintains two more files, one for the list of figures (.lof) and one for the list of tables (.lot), which contain the text specified as the argument of the \caption command for figures and tables.

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