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How to Create an Index in Microsoft Word

Posted by Roger Hyttinen on

An Index is a list of key terms and topics along with their page numbers, typically located at the end of the document. An index allows your readers to locate significant information quickly. Before creating an index, you must first mark the index entries in your document. Once all desired index entries are marked, you then generate your index.

To mark an entry, set the insertion point at the desired entry and click the Mark Entry button on the Index group of the References Ribbon or press the Alt + Shift + X keystroke combination. When the Mark Index Entry dialog box appears, enter the desired Main entry heading and a subentry heading for the index. Once you mark an index entry, Word adds a special XE (Index Entry) field to your document which is only visible when the Show/Hide button is activated. Add any additional index options and/or formatting as desired.

After you’ve marked all the index entries that are to be included in your index, choose an index format, and then build the actual index. Word will assemble all of the marked index entries, sort them alphabetically, reference their page numbers, and display the index in the document.

To Create an Index in MS Word:

  1. Set the insertion point to where you wish the index to refer.
  2. Click the References tab on the Ribbon.
  3. Click the Mark Entry button on the Index group 

    Mark Entry icon
    Press the Alt+Shift+X keystroke combination to mark the entry.
  4. Enter the Main Entry heading and Subentry Heading (if applicable). 
Mark Index Entry dialog box
  5. Set any other Index options or formats as desired.
  6. Repeat steps 1 - 4 until all desired entries are marked.
  7. Set the insertion point where you wish the index to appear.
  8. Click the Insert Index button.
  9. Choose the desired index style from the Formats drop-down list. 
Index formats drop-down list
  10. To add a dotted leader between the heading and the page number, click the Tab Leader drop-down list and choose the desired tab leader format. 
Index tab leader drop-down list
  11. To change the font and/or font size of your TOC headings, click the Modify button, select the Heading whose font you want to change and then click Modify. Make your selections.
  12. Choose any other desired options.
  13. Click OK to generate the index.

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