Microsoft Word – Creating an Index Automatically Using a Concordance

9 April 2008


Effective LivingTechnology

Summary. Regarding the creation of indexes, the built-in help and support provided with Microsoft Word is limited. This document provides information about creating an index for a document using a concordance.

Manual or Automatic. There are two methods of creating an index, either manually or automatically. If desired, both of these methods can be used together. Consider creating a duplicate backup of your document before continuing and then follow these simple instructions below for indexing. The official Microsoft support page on this is found below among resources.

Manual Selection of Words for Index. Read through your entire document and, as you find them, highlight any words or text you’d like included in the index.

  1. Once the word, name, or phrase is highlighted, go to the Insert menu and choose Reference and then Index. If you are using Microsoft Word 2007, go to the Reference tab.
  2. Indicate that you want to mark the highlighted text for inclusion in the index. Do this for all words, names, or phrases you want indexed.
  3. When all words have been marked for inclusion in the index, then create the index as described below.

Automatic Selection of Words to be Indexed. Follow these instructions to automatically prepare your document for indexing.

  1. For automatic indexing, it is necessary to create a new document separate from the one you are generating the index for. This new document will be the concordance file.
  2. Create a two column table.
  3. In the left column write the words you would like marked for inclusion in the index and across from each word (In the right column) write the text you’d like used in the index (if it is different than the word or text). For example, enter the word “run” in the left column and “exercise” in the right column if you would like to have every occurrence of “run” listed under the heading “exercise” in your index. Other words such as “swim,” “swimming,” “bike,” “biking,” can be entered individually in the left column with exercise for each of these entered in the right column. Note that quotes are not used, only the words themselves are used. The page numbers only, and not the words, will be listed under the heading of “exercise.” In this way, the index can be a topical index and not just an index of specific words.
  4. If you would like sub-entries in the index, then enter something like exercise:running in the right column. The : separator designates that the following word is a subcategory. So, it would be “exercise:run” in the right column to show the word(s) in the left column are a sub category.
  5. Save the concordance file and then close it.
  6. Open the document to be indexed. Go to the Insert menu and choose Reference and then Index. If you are using Microsoft Word 2007, go to the Reference tab.
  7. Specify that you would like to use Auto Mark and then when prompted for the concordance file, provide the name of the file created in step #1 above. This will automatically mark the words to be included in the index.
  8. Continue with the instructions below to create the index.
Creating the Index. After using the manual and/or automatic methods of marking words to be included in the index, follow these steps to generate the index.
  1. Open the document to be indexed (if it isn’t open already) and place the cursor in the location where you’d like the index to appear.
  2. Go to the Insert menu and choose Reference and then Index. If you are using Microsoft Word 2007, go to the Reference tab.
  3. Choose to generate / create the index.
Resources. Here are more resources relating to this topic.

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