How to Prepare a Keyword Index From a Word Document

By Darrin Koltow

Word's indexing tools create indices with hyperlinks to each keyword.
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Making a keyword index from a Word file has a number of uses. One is analyzing the frequency of each non-trivial word in a file. You can use the words that occur most often as tags to help you find the file later. Identifying the most frequently occurring words can also guide your search engine planning, if you convert a Word document into a Web page. Several tools exist for making keyword indices, including Web applets. But to improve your proficiency with Word and keep this project simple, use the tools that Word provides.

Open the Word document that you plan to use for the keyword index.

Make a copy of the document by clicking the Office button, then clicking the "Save As" button. Type "keywords.docx" for the filename.

Press "Control-H" to display the replacement dialog box. Type one space character, " ", in the "Find" text box, and type the paragraph marker, "^p," in the "Replacement" text box. Press "Enter" to perform the replacement. This step will turn the document into a list of words, with one word per line.

Press "Control-A" to select all keywords, then click the "Insert" menu heading. Click the "Convert" item of the "Table" button, then press "Enter" to convert the list into a single column table. Click the "Sort" button under the "Layout" tab to sort the words.

Delete all of the duplicate, common, and non-alphabetic words and characters in the column. For example, delete all "and," "the," "a," and other words that all documents contain. The list that remains after you make these deletions will be the keyword list.

Click above the top cell of the table, then press "Control-C." Click in the space to the right of the top cell and press "Control-V" to paste a duplicate of the first column onto the table. This step creates a concordance file, which Word can create an index from.

Save and close the "keywords.docx" file, then re-open the original file you made the keywords file from. Press "Control-End" to move to the end of the file, which is where you'll insert the index.

Click the "References" menu heading, then click "Insert Index." Click the "AutoMark" button, then navigate to the "keywords.docx" file you saved earlier. Word will invisibly mark every word in the document that matches a word in the "keywords.docx" file.

Click the "Insert Index" button again, then click the "OK" button, to insert the index into the document. You'll see a list of all keywords, along with the page numbers where they occur.