Indesign index

by Design Workshop Sydney

Creating a document index in Adobe Indesign takes time and effort, but is essentially easy and straight-forward. It is worth doing in order to give your reader a simple and easy reference to your various topics. We show you how in our Indesign courses.Indesign-index
Before you start, it’s a good idea to run a Spell Check throughout your document: Edit > Spelling > Check Spelling. Also have a rough idea of which topics, sub-categories and cross-references you’d like to include in your index.
To open the index panel go to Window > Type & Tables > Index. Then select the first subject you want to include in your Index. And go to the Index panel options and choose New Page Reference. Note the various options under Type. Select End of Document – this will include all instances of the word or phrase. You could also include See Also for related phrases. Hit OK.
Then look in the index list under the first letter of your entry. Click on the drop-down arrow to view the page references. On the bottom left of the panel is a button to go to the entry’s location. To edit an entry, double-click on it. To create a sub-category, move the entry to Topic Level 2. You will need some other entry at Level 1 though.
Continue through the document adding New Page References – this will take some time, so use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+U (Mac: Command+U). Inspect the entries from time to time in the Index panel.
When you are finished create a few blank pages at the end of your document for the index. Go to the Index panel options and choose Generate Index. Click on the More Options button to see how you could apply various text styles to the headings and sub-headings. Click OK and you will have the loaded text icon. Click on a blank page – by default it creates just one column, but you could change this to 2 or 3 columns in the top Control panel under Paragraph options. You will probably have Overset Text – click on the plus sign on the bottom right of the panel, then press Shift (for Autoflow) and click on the next page. Extra pages will be added if necessary by pressing Shift.
We will need to tweak it a bit, so go to your Paragraph Styles panel and notice that creating an index also creates a few related text styles. We may want to indent the Level 2 entries, so double-click on the style and go to the Indents and Spacing section on the left hand column. Here we add some indent values, eg. 10mm. Note that this updates all your Level 2 links.
Also add Cross References from the options panel, because you never know which references your readers will consult first. Use a Character Style to change the appearance of the numbers, for example add a Character colour of blue. Note that if you insert or add pages the index will update after you choose Update Index.
After you have made your changes you would update the Index by going to the options panel and clicking on Generate Index. Make sure you Update before exporting your document so that the links are current.
To create your PDF: File > Adobe PDF Presets > High Quality Print. Include Bookmarks and Hyperlinks. The end result is an PDF document with an Index, each entry number of which can be clicked to go to the correct document page. (This is also true if you create a Table of Contents.)
More tips can be found at the Sydney Indesign User Group which meets regularly in the city, and is a free forum for designers to discuss topics and the latest Indesign features. See many examples of our own clients’ work on our Facebook page.
Other related Indesign Blog Posts: