Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Creating an Index
— Tab leader. If you choose to right-align page numbers, you can pick a leader
style to connect each entry with its page number(s): dots, dashes, or
underlining. You can also opt for no leader.
— Formats. Choose an index style from this drop-down list (the Print
Preview shows you what each option looks like). If you choose “From
template”, then Word applies the current template’s default formatting (line
spacing and so on) to your index.
Word creates your index and inserts it into your document, automatically
alphabetizing entries and applying the formatting you chose. Your index looks
something like the example in Figure 6-11.
Word to the Wise
Tips for Creating a Good Index
Word does a great job of alphabetizing, organizing, and
formatting index entries, as well as matching up each
entry with the appropriate pages in the document. But it can
never know or understand your document the way you do.
A computer doesn’t create a good index—you do.
less cluttered than listing each page in the range
• Be consistent. Use the same terminology and the
same format throughout the index. For example,
avoid listing people’s last names first in some instances
and first names first in others.
• Use cross-references—but don’t overdo it.
Crossreferences direct readers to a main topic that expands
on or defines what they’re looking up. But too many
cross-references can be annoying. It’s hard to use an
index that’s always referring you to another topic
instead of just giving you the information you’re
• Know what to leave out. An index applies to the
body of the topic, so there’s no need to index the
table of contents, prologue, list of contributors,
glossary, and so on.
Undoubtedly you’ve used indexes as a tool. Take some
time to look over a professionally produced index to see
how it works—what makes a good entry vs. a subentry,
when to use cross-references, how to format entries.
Understanding what makes an index useful to readers will
help you create an effective one.
These tips will help you create an effective index:
• Think like a reader. What information does
someone approaching the topic for the first time need to
know? What are the core topics of each chapter or
section of the document? If you created the
document from an outline, use the outline now to help
you identify the important topics. (Looking at your
document’s headings achieves the same purpose.)
• Know the difference between entries and
subentries. A main entry is a key idea, name, concept, or
term. Subentries break down main entries into their
important elements. The point of subentries is to help
readers zero in on some aspect of a main entry.
• Don’t get carried away with index entries. Don’t
try to turn every word in the document into an index
entry. Focus on main topics and their most important
• Avoid clutter. Make your index as easy as possible
to read. For example, showing a range of pages is