This is what the table of contents looks like in LexisNexis’s printed edition of the Code of Virginia:
I was a bit stunned the first time I saw this. It’s just word soup. There’s simply no effort to make it legible. No thought has gone into this. There is, in short, no love.
I feel like, as a culture, we basically understand how to make tables of contents. Right? Grabbing a few books off my desk, more or less at random, I thought I’d compare Lexis’s table of contents to those of others. Here’s The Chicago Manual of Style:
Designing with Web Standards, by Jeffrey Zeldman and Ethan Marcotte:
And Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style:
These are all different, but via various small design cues they all manage to accomplish the same thing: they make it easy for somebody to browse through the contents of the text and locate the specific section that they need. Microsoft Word, right out of the box, will happily render a table of contents in styles reminiscent of all of these, with minimal effort.
LexisNexis isn’t even trying. I can’t pretend to know why. But with this as the current state of affairs in the presentation of legal information, it’s trivial for The State Decoded—or anybody with a copy of Word—to improve upon it.