Defining the Project and Preparing a Proposed Table of Contents
The integral part of the front matter of any published book — the table of contents — is also the technical writer's best tool for organizing the document itself. Your proposed table of contents not only shows your editor or project manager that you have grasped the material well enough to know how to organize it into effective sections, but it also gives your editor or project manager a chance to see whether or not you've included every important aspect of the project.
Most often an initial table of contents is considered to be a fluid document. That's because new information that arises during the research and writing phases may result in sections being added to cover the new material. Your editor or project manager may decide on a different focus for the project after viewing your initial drafts. You may later realize that additional subheads are needed to explain something within the context of the document itself rather than relegating that information to an appendix.
Most editors or project managers can provide examples of previous tables of contents used for other projects. This documentation can show you the preferred format for inserting supplemental notes or comments.
A proposed table of contents should contain your outline of the numbered chapters, parts, or sections and the heads and subheads within those parts. Depending on the style guidelines provided for submitting your table of contents, you'll probably also need to include an estimated total page or word count.
In short, your proposed table of contents is the tangible expression for your vision on how the document should be organized and what it will say.