How to Build an Index in Word 2007

Audio Transcript

If you're working on a longer document, like a report or a book manuscript, you might find it helpful to add an index for your readers. An index lists key terms and topics that are covered in the document and the page or pages where readers can find that information.

Let's take a look at building an index using Microsoft Word 2007. It's really a three step process.

First, we're going to mark each of our entries in the document. Then we're going to choose the design and finally build the index. So let's mark our entries. For starters, I'll select a word or phrase that I want include in the index. Now up in the top navigation, go to the references tab. Over on the right, there's an option to mark the entry and here's our helpful dialog box to guide us along. The text we selected is in the main entry box. You can edit the text or leave it as is.

Then below, you have the option to create a sub-entry. Click into the box and type in your text if you want to include the sub-entry. You can even create a third level entry by adding a colon and typing another word or phrase in the sub-entry box. Just below you'll see there's also an option to cross reference to another entry. Just like sub-entries, this one is optional and I'm going to leave this blank for now.

Finally in the bottom of the box, you can choose whether to make the page numbers bold or italicized in your index. Now you can mark the entry. If you just want the one instance that you've highlighted, click on mark. If you want to mark every instance of this text in your document, click mark all. A couple of things to note here, first, you can see that Microsoft Word revealed the formatting symbols in the document and also added some code around the entry in brackets. Don't worry, none of this will show up when you print your document. Second, you'll see that the mark entry box is still open. You can close the box right now if you want, but if you need to add more index entries, just leave it open and click back into your document. So let's say I want to add this word as another index entry, I'm just going to highlight it and go back to the top navigation to click on mark entry. There's the text in the mark index entry box under the main entry. And then I can add anything else I need and click to mark it or mark all. When you're done with everything on the page or in your document, you can click close to make the index entry box disappear.

Ok, on to step two. We need to choose the format for the index. First thing here is to put the cursor where you want the index to appear in your document, that's usually going to be the last page. Now head back up to the references tab and right next to where you would click to mark an entry, you'll see that there's an option to insert index. That's what we want to do, so let's click. The index box will open on your screen and in the lower left, there's a pull down menu to choose your format. When you select one of the formats, you'll see a preview of that style. You can even create your own style by choosing the 'from template' option and clicking on modify. That gives you a whole list of styles to choose from, but I'm going to use one of the existing formats, so I'll cancel out of here and go back to the pull down menu. I'm a bit of a traditionalist, so I'm going to go with classic. Then over here on the right you can also choose whether you want your entries to indented or run together and how many columns you want.

And of course when you're all done, you're going to click ok. That's actually step three, Microsoft Word builds the index using the words and phrases you've marked and using the style format that you selected. And that's how you build an index.

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