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Indexing with FrameMaker

by Ron Kurtus (14 July 2000)

Indexing a document is an art in itself. Since Adobe FrameMaker is the program of choice for most companies producing technical documentation, it is worth while to find out how to create an index in FrameMaker.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

FrameMaker Indexing Basics 

The index is an alphabetically arranged list of key words and reference pages. FrameMaker keeps track of each entry, its associated words and the page with a marker. Entries with the same text are merged into a single entry with several page references.

In some cases, a number of entries may all start with the same word. In such a case, sub-entries can be entered, as seen below:




selling services,


selling space, 




You can also have a cross-reference to another entry, as well as a range of pages.

Adding words

The method to add words is fairly straightforward.

  1. First, show text symbols: View > Text Symbols. This allows you to see the markers.
  2. With your mouse, highlight the word or words to index.
  3. Open the Marker window: Special > Marker. Make sure the Marker Type is Index. The highlighted words will be automatically entered in the Marker Text field.
  4. Edit or add text. (See next two sections).
  5. Click New Marker button.

Using multiple entries per marker

You can add several entries in one Marker window be separating entries with a semi-colon (;). For example, if your entry was economic advantage, you may also want to include an index entry of advantage, economic.

Thus, you would include in the Marker Text field: economic advantage; advantage, economic. You could have any number of entries, as deemed appropriate.

Adding sub-entries

If you realize the first word in an entry is used in numerous other entries, you could place the next words as a subentry. You do this by separating the words with a colon (:).

For example, if your entry was open book and you know there are several other entries starting with open, you could make book a subentry: open: book.

Of course, care must be taken to make sure your entries make sense.

Editing existing index entries

You can easily find and edit existing index entries.

  1. Show text symbols: View > Text Symbols
  2. Open the Marker window: Special > Marker.
  3. Open the Find/Change window: Edit > Find/Change.
  4. Select Marker of Type: in the Find drop-down list box.
  5. Type index in the Find text box.
  6. Choose the Find button. The next index entry will display in the Marker window.
  7. Edit entry and click Edit Marker. To delete, enter Space + Backspace.

Printing out chapter index

You can view or print the index for individual chapters in your FrameMaker book. This facilitates editing, as opposed to using the book's whole index.

  1. In the file or chapter you are editing, File > Generate/Book to open the Generate/Book window.
  2. Mark the Index radio button and choose the Generate... button.
  3. The index for the chapter is generated and displayed. Print the chapter index to examine and edit.


The process for creating and editing an index in a FrameMaker document is relatively simple. The greater task is deciding on what to index for effective use by the readers.

Skill in using tools increases your value

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


American Society of Indexers - Organization for writers specializing in indexing issues

Society for Technical Communication

FrameMaker Resources


(Notice: The School for Champions may earn commissions from book purchases)

The Art of Indexing by Larry Bonura, John Wiley & Sons, 1994 ($31.99) - Short lessons on each step of the indexing process, including how to estimate indexing time and indexing for on-line documents.

Top-rated books on FrameMaker

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