Not always an obvious addition to an architecture portfolio, but a table of contents is vital in providing not only quick navigation and reference, but also in presenting professionalism. …as should your cover letter and resume!
As especially when interviewing and presenting your work at a professional level for an employment position, if your table of contents is missing, it will certainly count against you and your presentation.
In this short article we discuss what’s required and what the best practices are.
Your work can’t speak for itself.
Good work is simply not enough and needs to be supported via careful curation and considered formatting.
What does a table of contents do?
Much like a standard table of contents located at the front of your favorite book, an architecture portfolio’s contents provides a roadmap to its readers, and highlights what lies ahead and how to find it.
It also provides the reader with a general introduction to your body of work, and indicates the type and number of projects that are to be presented.
Equally, if your portfolio is to be read without you present and therefore unable to narrate its sequence, a contents page provides a valuable reference should the reader get lost.
Why is it important?
Above all else, it is the “correct” way to present your work. Just as you would write your address at the top of a letter, or must always provide a scale to your drawings.
But ignoring formalities, it has one fundamental job, and that’s navigation.
Where should your table of contents feature?
Your contents page should always feature at the front of your portfolio between your cover page and first project.
Again this is the standard location for any table of contents, and therefore where the reader will look first.
So to avoid confusion and distraction, always feature it at the front of your portfolio.
How can it be presented?
There are no set rules on how to present a table of contents, other than it must contain the title of each project and the correct page number of where each one starts.
For those that have purchased our Portfolio Guide, you will see from the featured portfolios from both students and architects that there are a number of ways to go about this. We also have free portfolio guide here.
Content – In terms of the information presented, you only need to provide the title of the project and its starting page number. This is not the time to provide a short introduction or key project statistics.
Size – Size wise and as you can see from the above example, it must be kept within proportion to your portfolios page format. Generally this is common sense; not too small for it to be hard to read, and not too large to overbear the page.
Length – The length will be dictated by the number of projects presented in your portfolio. You must include every project and/or chapters, but remember you are only providing a title and page number.
Text – When it comes to text, the font type and sizing must mirror that of what has been used throughout the rest of your portfolio.
Do not overcomplicate and confuse your portfolio’s overall presentation. A constant font type enables each page to be subtly tied together.
Images – The use of images is encouraged if they can be tied back to each of the projects they represent. Again, there is an excellent example of this in our Guide, where a young architect has developed a series of symbols that feature both in their table of contents, and on each project page.
Format – Number first or project first is slightly subjective, but standard practice says projects first followed by numbers. Use a configuration that your readers will be familiar with.
Architecture portfolio table of contents templates
With the above variations in mind, the below portfolio template pack features among cover, title and project pages, 10 bespoke fully editable and adaptable contents pages.
These use tried and tested methods of presentation and arrangement, to provide an instant “out-of-the-box” solution to an architecture portfolio’s creation.
Every interview is different.
Know where to start and how to prioritize your presentation, for any interview scenario.