Automating Indexing with Index AutoMark Files

Earlier, you learned how to mark all the references to specific text in a document at the same time, by selecting the text, pressing Alt+Shift+X to display the Mark Index Entry dialog box, and clicking Mark All. You can go much further than this, telling Word to automatically mark (AutoMark) all references to many different words and phrases at the same time.

To do so, you first create a special file called an Index AutoMark file. Then you tell Word to use that Index AutoMark file to identify text for AutoMarking and to specify what each automated index entry will say. In a moment, you'll walk through AutoMarking a document. But first, you need to decide whether AutoMarking is worth your time.


Index files built with AutoMarking are sometimes confused with concordances. Traditionally, a concordance is an alphabetical listing of every word in a text, showing the context in which every occurrence of the word appears. An AutoMarked index is usually built only from words selected for their relevance.

Is AutoMarking Worth Your Time?

To decide whether it will really save time to build and use an Index AutoMark file, scroll through your document looking for elements that lend themselves to automatic indexing. Names of any kind are excellent candidates, including people's names, product names, and brand names. Also, look for words and phrases that are

  • Typically used in a context that you want to index.

  • Used consistently throughout your document.

  • Important enough to index. Look for words that are relevant and specific, and that Word can find. Avoid words that are so common as to appear in your index on every page.

Don't be surprised if you find that an Index AutoMark file handles only a quarter or a third of the index entries you need to create. If it can do even that much, however, it can still save you quite a bit of time in indexing a large document. Of course, you can still manually mark additional items by using the techniques discussed previously. But you can use AutoMarking to handle the mind-numbing, repetitive aspects of indexing, leaving you with the more interesting entries?the ones that require judgment.

Creating an Index AutoMark File

To create an Index AutoMark file, click New Blank Document on the Standard toolbar to display a new blank document (or choose File, New, and click Blank Document on the New Document task pane).

Then, insert a two-column table. You can do so in several ways; the easiest is to click the Insert Table button, drag across the matrix to create a two-column table, and release the mouse button.

Now start adding entries. In the left column, type words or phrases for which you want to search. Tab to the right column, and type the entry the way you want it to appear in your index, including colons and subentries where needed, as discussed earlier in the "Creating Subentries" section of this chapter. You can also boldface or italicize an entry in the right column, and Word will format it to match when you compile your index. To add a row for a new entry, press Tab in the right-hand column of the last row of the table.

If you don't enter anything in the right column of any row, Word creates an entry using the text in the left column of that row.

Because indexing is case sensitive, make sure that your left column includes all variations of words that might appear both uppercase and lowercase. However, make sure that you standardize on either lowercase or uppercase for the right column so that Word doesn't generate duplicate entries you don't want. Also make sure that you capture all forms of a word, such as "explode," "exploding," and "explosion."

Some people find it easier to set up the editing window so that the Index AutoMark file appears at the left and the document to be indexed appears at the right. You learned how to display the same document in two windows earlier in this chapter, in the section "Reviewing and Updating the Contents of Your Index." If both documents are visible, it's easy (and more accurate) to copy entries from one window to the other.

When you finish adding entries, save and close the file.

Using the Index AutoMark File for AutoMarking

To build index entries from the Index AutoMark file you just created, follow these steps:

  1. Open the document you want to index, if it isn't already open.

  2. Choose Insert, Reference, Index and Tables, and display the Index tab.

  3. Click AutoMark. Word displays the Open Index AutoMark File dialog box.

  4. Browse to, and select the Index AutoMark file you just created.

  5. Click Open. Word inserts index entries wherever you told it to.


If you create an AutoMark file that will have value in many documents, consider recording a macro for running that file and giving the macro a keyboard shortcut or toolbar button. If you want, you can include index entries that appear in only some of your documents but should be marked wherever they do appear. Doing so enables users to build detailed preliminary indexes even if they have no indexing expertise.

For more information on recording macros, see "Recording and Running Visual Basic Macros," p. 1069.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word