Contents are the chapters, subjects, or articles within a written work. You might need to scroll through a list of the entire contents of your computer's hard drive if you're searching for a missing document.
The "table of contents" at the front of a dense reference book is a divided or numbered list of the chapters. You can also talk about the contents of a book or movie, meaning the specific subjects or material that are touched on in the work. The noun contents comes from the verb contain, which has a Latin root, continere, "to hold together or to contain."