Maze of Contents

Magazine tables of contents are curious things. A table of contents is supposed to help the reader find his way to a desired section quickly; but in magazines they seem designed instead to purposefully frustrate and bewilder the reader.

I can’t think of a single time in which I’ve opened a magazine’s table of contents and found the article I was looking for faster than if I just flipped through the damn thing. But paradoxically, once I’m invested in using the TOC, I cannot but continue the quixotic search. I suppose it comes from the belief that, having already devoted a chunk of time toward this insane and fruitless endeavor, surely the answer lies just around the nect page (past those ads). And while the entire operation may turn out to be longer than a simple pass through the entire thing, the marginal time left to find it in the TOC must be less by now, right? Oh, such folly!

And if, perchance, you ever do find the page number of that article, good luck finding that page through any mechanism faster than a bogosort.

Designing magazine tables of content and page numbering systems (or rather, page-number-hiding systems) is truly a work of art. Demonic, maddening art.

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2 Responses to Maze of Contents

  1. Smart Guy says:

    The more confused you are, the more time you spend looking through the magazine at the advertisements?

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