How to create index in word (step by step)

September 4, 2023 4.1K views

Navigating through lengthy documents can be a challenge. An index, an alphabetical roadmap at a document's end, bridges this gap. But with a sea of options, how to choose? The answer lies here: a definitive guide to crafting a Word index, unlocking seamless page-hopping.

Part 1: How to create index in word

An index is a vital tool that resides at the end of a document, spotlighting essential words and phrases alongside their corresponding page numbers. This two-step process involves defining index terms and inserting the index itself.

Inserting an Index Entry

1. Select the Text: Highlight the text you wish to include in the index.

2. Access the References Tab: Click on the "References" tab in the menu.

3. Mark Entry: Locate and click the "Mark Entry" option within the "Index" group.

insert index entry

4. Mark Index Entry Dialog: A dialog box opens, pre-filled with your selected text. You can also add a subentry if needed.

5. Configure Entry Settings: Choose from index entry options like cross-referencing, current page, or page range. Click "Mark" for a specific instance or "Mark All" for every instance throughout the document.

insert index entry

6. Repeat the Process: Continue marking entries across your document, using "Close" to exit the dialog box when done.

Inserting the Index

1. Select Insertion Point: Click where you want to insert the index in your document, preferably at the end. A blank page here is optimal.

2. Access the Index Dialog: Click the "Insert Index" button within the "References" tab.

insert index entry

3. Configure Index Appearance: The Index dialog allows customization of page number alignment, tab leader, and entry formatting. You can choose to indent subentries or display them run-in style.

insert index entry

4. Customize Appearance: Make appearance and behavior adjustments that reflect your preferences. Changes are reflected in Print Preview.

5. Confirm Changes: Click "OK" to finalize the index creation.

Updating an Index

1. Navigate to Index: Click anywhere within the index.

2. Initiate Update: Click the "Update" button.

3. Update Index: The index will update, including newly added entries and adjusting page numbers for entries that have shifted.

Creating an index elevates your document's navigability and adds a professional touch. The indexing process involves careful selection and strategic placement of entries, ultimately making your document more accessible and user-friendly.

Part 2: Editing and Updating the Index

Ensuring an accurate and well-structured index is crucial for your document's usability. Follow these steps to edit, format, and update your index efficiently.

Editing or Formatting an Index Entry and Updating the Index

1. Locate the XE Fields: If you've added more entries after creating your index, you'll need to update it. To make sure you can see the XE fields, click the "Show/Hide" button in the "Paragraph" group on the "Home" tab.

update index entry

2. Identify the XE Field: Find the XE field for the entry you want to modify. It looks like this: { XE "Callisto" \t "See Moons" }.

3. Edit or Format: To edit or format an index entry, alter the text within the quotation marks.

4. Update the Index: Click on the index, then press F9 to update it. Alternatively, in the "Index" group on the "References" tab, click "Update Index."

update index entry

Part 3: How to Delete an Index Entry in Word

Removing an index entry in Microsoft Word is a straightforward process. Follow these steps and accompanying images to ensure a seamless experience.

1. Locate the Entry: First, identify the index entry you wish to delete within your document.

2. Highlight the Entry: Select the entire index entry, including any braces or formatting around it.

3. Press the DELETE Key: Once the entry is highlighted, press the DELETE key on your keyboard. This action will remove the selected index entry.

4. Update the Index: After deleting the entry, remember to update the index to reflect the changes. Click on the index, then press F9 on your keyboard to update it. Alternatively, go to the "Index" group on the "References" tab and click "Update Index."

Part 4: Why Use WPS Office?

WPS first landing page

When it comes to creating and editing documents, you have multiple options at your fingertips. While the methods outlined below are applicable to both Microsoft Word and WPS Office Word, we highly recommend considering WPS Office for several compelling reasons:

  • PriceWPS Office offers a cost-effective solution without compromising on quality. With both free and premium versions available, you can choose the option that best suits your budget.

  • Compatibility: WPS Office ensures seamless compatibility with various file formats, including those used by Microsoft Word. This compatibility minimizes any formatting issues when collaborating with others who might be using different software.

  • Features: WPS Office boasts an impressive array of features that cater to your document creation and editing needs. From advanced formatting options to collaborative tools, you'll find everything required to craft professional documents.

  • User-Friendly Interface: Navigating software should be intuitive, and WPS Office delivers on that front. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy for both beginners and experienced users to create and edit documents efficiently.


Q1: What is the difference between the table of contents and the index?

The table of contents lists the headings and subheadings in a document, providing a structured overview. On the other hand, an index lists keywords and their corresponding page numbers, aiding in locating specific information within the document.

Q2: How do you write an index example?

To write an index entry, select the text, go to the "References" tab, click "Mark Entry," and configure entry settings. For instance, to mark "Technology" as an entry, use { XE "Technology" }. After marking entries, insert the index and customize its appearance.

Q3: What is the shortcut for index in Word?

The shortcut to update an index in Word is to click anywhere within the index and press F9 on your keyboard. Alternatively, you can use the "Update Index" option found in the "Index" group on the "References" tab.

Q4: Is there a shortcut to create an index in Word?

While there's no direct shortcut to instantly create an index, you can streamline the process by using the "Mark Entry" option under the "References" tab. This allows you to efficiently mark index entries, which you can then insert into the document's index.

Final Thought on How to create index in word

In summary, mastering index creation in Word streamlines document navigation. This guide's step-by-step approach empowers efficient indexing for seamless information access.

Consider leveraging WPS Office and WPS Templates for enhanced document crafting. With affordability, compatibility, features, and user-friendliness, WPS Office optimizes your workflow, ensuring impactful, well-organized content.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.