Embedded Indexing in Microsoft Word: How to Get Started

a few links I've collected while teaching myself to index in Word*.... with many thanks to those who have shared their knowledge!

*If you're already an experienced indexer working with SKY, Cindex, or Macrex, you may want to jump straight
to Section 2, "Creating Word Indexes with Dedicated Indexing Software."

1. "How-to" Articles, or Microsoft Word Indexing 101

If you're trying to teach yourself how to index in Word from scratch, without the benefit of utilities that make it easier, or just you want to understand how it all works, I suggest reading these articles in the order listed.**

  1. Indexing with Microsoft Word. A very brief review of Word's indexing from Fred Brown (Allegro Indexing).

  2. Automating Your Word Indexes by Mike Unwalla. An excellent introductory article on how to create indexes in Word. (Article in Communicator, Autumn 2003.)

  3. Scroll down on this page and find Indexing in Word Tutorial by Jan Wright. Some of the information is out-of-date (like references to Word versions and to indexing add-ons for Word), but the information about how to index in Word is clear and thorough.

After you've made your first few experiments, and are wondering why it didn't all turn out quite the way you wanted, you'll be ready for troubleshooting:

If you've been using Word's dialog box for indexing, by now you're probably frustrated with it, so you might want to look at this (unless you're going to go further and get WordEmbed or DEXembed; see Section 2):

**There's also the Microsoft "Most Valued Professional" knowledge base: How to create an index in MS Word

2. Creating Word Indexes with Dedicated Indexing Software

You can actually "drag" index entries from SKY or Cindex into a Word document, and they will magically transform into Word indexing codes -- which is very cool. See the SKY and Cindex user manuals for details.

Better yet, you might be ready to jump up to what I'll call the top level -- Microsoft Word add-ons that make it possible to index in Word using the capabilities of your dedicated indexing software:

  • WordEmbed. A utility from James Lamb for indexing in SKY, Cindex, or Macrex instead of directly in Word. Requires Windows. Works with CUP-XML (a special form of embedding used by Cambridge University Press).

  • Dexter and DEXembed. Utilities from Jack M. Lyon (The Editorium) for indexing in Sky, Cindex, or Macrex instead of directly in Word. DEXembed works in Windows and with certain versions of Word for the Mac.
    (Note: DEXembed requires the ability to export the index to a tab-delimited text file. The Student editions of SKY do not have the export feature as of the last time this page was updated.)

From what I've heard, people who use these programs tend to refer to them as "miraculous"!

3. General Information Articles

  • Embedded indexing. Describes advantages and limitations of embedded indexes and how to index in Word. (Article by James A. Lamb from The Indexer, October 2005.) Print copies now available from same article on Dropbox site.

  • Digging in for the Long Haul. Describes four utilities for working with Word's embedded indexing feature. It doesn't cover Jack Lyon's publication of DEXembed (see links below), though, which was not yet available at the time. (Article by Lucie Haskins in KeyWords, April-June 2005.)

  • Embedded Indexing: First Choice for Authors? Article about embedded indexing in general, by Bill Johncocks. Concise review of advantages and disadvantages. Published in Communicator August 2006.

Are you thinking these articles must be obsolete? Not really. The indexing features in Word haven't changed much.

The topic is also covered in several books:

  • Indexing Books, Second Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing) by Nancy Mulvany, ISBN 978-0226552767

  • Software for Indexing, by Sandi Schroeder (chapter on embedded software was written by Peg Mauer), ISBN 978-1573871662

Copyright and Disclaimer

Copyright of all articles or websites linked to belong to their respective owners.

DISCLAIMER: This page does not list every single Web page in the world that discusses Word indexing. The choice of which pages to include is strictly my own and based on my personal bias as to what I have found most useful (except for the Microsoft ones, which I threw in for completeness). Your mileage may vary.

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