Do our docs really need a Table of Contents?

I’ve long been a devotee of table of contents (TOCs) in documentation, both online and offline. This was the accepted best practice, and I rarely thought much about it. After all, TOCs allow the reader to skim and do an efficient visual search for the information that interests them.

But I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t have some concerns about automatically including TOCs. Is it really necessary? Do readers use them, do they ignore them, or do the TOCs actually annoy them?

I’ve found that the answer is a frustrating “All of the above.”

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