ASI Online Learning Course: Embedded Indexing in InDesign


Embedded Indexing in InDesign

Three-Part Series with Lucie Haskins

Step-by-step instruction on how to index in Adobe’s most popular desktop publishing program and--exclusive to this course--how to use the helpful KPS plugins.

This three-part series exemplifies ASI’s commitment to ongoing training for indexers wanting to learn more, in the comfort of their own homes (or offices).

The three sessions (each 45-60 minutes in length) are organized as follows:

  • Session 1: Introduction to embedded indexing and the InDesign work environment
  • Session 2: Using InDesign to create index entries from scratch and to generate a final index
  • Session 3: Learning about KPS (Kerntiff Publishing Systems) indexing-related plugins for InDesign

Session 1: Introduction to embedded indexing and the InDesign work environment

Before we can even think about indexing in InDesign, it’s important to build a solid foundation in three areas:

  • Embedded indexing itself
  • Establishing work practices specific to embedded indexing
  • InDesign work environment

Embedded indexing overview

This section covers the basics, such as what is embedded indexing and how it differs from Back-of-the-Book indexing. It also identifies popular desktop publishing packages, their benefits and limitations, and how third-party utilities (such as KPS plugins) augment native functionality. We finish this section with information on purchase/lease options for InDesign.

Establishing work practices specific to embedded indexing

Because embedded indexing requires the indexer to embed in the client files, there are additional work practices that must be in place to ensure that files are accessed and returned properly. Some of the topics we cover include:

  • access control (who has the hot potato)
  • synching up versions (working with the same version the client has)
  • file downloading and uploading procedures
  • identifying client restrictions or preferences regarding index entry placement
  • ensuring the client has provided a formatted index template file

InDesign work environment

InDesign is a complex and sophisticated desktop publishing program that serves many functions. But we, as indexers, only need to concentrate on a few pertinent screens and indexing related components.

So, once we have the concept of embedded indexing in place and we’ve established solid work practices and communicated with the client on pertinent administrative topics, we learn about the InDesign work environment and customize it to our indexing needs.

We learn about which elements are essential to our work efforts and which ones can be safely ignored. First off, we learn about the relevant screens and major indexing-related components (that include but aren’t limited to) the workspace, the Tools Toolbar, the Index Palette, the Pages Panel, and the Paragraph Styles Panel.

We learn how to customize our workspace by removing or adding panels, manipulating the zoom controls, and alternating between views.

We finish by learning about the book file, chapter files, and index file setup. We learn how to open files (in a variety of ways) and how to deal with the possible warning messages (for font substitution and missing links). We learn how to reduce file bloat. And we finish with cautions regarding avoiding accidental changes to client content.

By the time you grasp these concepts, you’ll be able to comfortably discuss the relevant administrative details with your client and also setup your InDesign work environment to suit your work style.

Session 2: Using InDesign to create index entries from scratch and to generate a final index

This is the meat-and-potatoes session! And it thoroughly covers the two-step process on (1) how to create and edit index entries and (2) how to generate an index.

Creating and editing index entries (step one)

Indexing is simple, is it not? We create index entries and modify them as needed until the final index has been created to our satisfaction. If we break down the potential tasks involved in manipulating index entries, we come up the following functions:

  • creating new index entries
  • deleting existing index entries
  • editing existing index entries
  • duplicating existing index entries
  • navigating to specific index entries
  • finding characters/phrases within index entries

But it can be so much more complicated than that.

Take creating new index entries. We can create an index entry that refers to a single page or it can refer to a page range. Index entries can be created one at a time or by manipulating the previously just-added entries by flipping flipping subentries and main entries or by changing the entries slightly).

What about deleting existing index entries? We can delete single entries or delete entire index entry groups.

And how about editing existing index entries? Do we want to edit a single index entry or multiple index entries with cascading changes? Do we want to cascade the changes at the main entry level or on a certain sublevel?

Each indexing software program uses specific methods to achieve all these tasks. With the native InDesign indexing module, unlike the dedicated indexing software (CINDEX, Macrex, or Sky) that we’re familiar with, each of the variations identified above requires a different approach. You will learn all these approaches within this session.

Generating the index (step two)

You will learn how to generate the index, which is a completely separate step in the embedded indexing process. Generated indexes can be contained within one large file or they can occupy a completely separate file. You’ll learn both scenarios, along with how to spell check the index and correctly apply changes (at the index entry).

By the time you’ve grasped all these concepts, you will be prepared to create index entries and to generate and spell check your indexes.

Session 3: Learning about KPS (Kerntiff Publishing Systems) indexing-related plugins for InDesign

Now that you’re familiar with InDesign’s native indexing module, you’ll appreciate the spiffy KPS tools that can shortcut some tasks or augment with functions completely unavailable in InDesign.

We start off with a quick overview on just what these tools are, who developed them, why they might be helpful, and how they can be difficult to understand at first glance.

Because there are so many of these tools, with most of them specific to one task and, for many, with limited user interactions, I found the best way to understand their usefulness is to group them together by function.

And by taking the time to truly understand the task/function of each plugin, I could then determine where, in my embedded indexing workflow, each might serve me best.

Therefore, we will review the tools based on the following primary categories. Each tool is discussed in turn within each category (with execution instructions along with usage caveats and other pertinent information).

  • Creating indexes
    Tools discussed in this category include Quick Index and Quick Index Search.

  • Importing existing indexes
    Tools discussed in this category include Index Import, Marker Mover, and Remove Temp Import Boxes.

  • Editing index entries
    Tools discussed in this category include Index Editor, Index Ref Remover, Orphaned Marker Remover, Orphan Killer, Orphan Merger, and Page Ranger.

  • Navigating through, search for, or viewing index entries
    Tools discussed in this category include Index Navigator, Index Tooltip, PDF InDex Stickies, Quick Index Search, and Index Editor.

  • Exporting or hyperlinking entries
    Tools discussed in this category include HyperLinker and Export Index.

After you’ve grasped the functionality of these tools, you can determine for yourself which tools can best improve your efficiency and effectiveness as an indexer embedding with InDesign.


Remember, these are TRAINING classes. Because each class is loaded with so much information, all sessions have been recorded and are available for registrants to revisit as often as desired. Registrants are also provided with handouts (available on this page after purchase) so they can concentrate on the material being presented and limit note-taking to essential elements only.

As you can see by the webinar breakouts, I’ve packed each session with useful and practical information. And my goal for this series is that, at the end of this series, you’ll have learned everything you need to know about how to index in InDesign and, more importantly, how to index as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Please note: Attendance at the live sessions is not required. Registration entitles you to “on demand” access to the course and unlimited repeat viewings now that the initial presentation has aired.

Lucie Haskins became an indexer in 2000 after a long career in corporate America, with roles spanning the computer industry and management consulting. She specializes in embedded indexing (FrameMaker, Word, Docbook XML, and InDesign) and in computer- and business-related topics, and enjoys discovering and applying tools that optimize her indexing process.

She believes strongly in giving back to a profession that has been so generous to her, and has presented workshops and published articles (in Key Words and The Indexer) on various indexing topics, instructed for UC Berkeley’s online indexing course, and served ASI in chapter and national positions as well as on its webmaster team. She is the current EIS Award (formerly Wilson Award) Committee chair.

The webinars were presented on October 15, October 22, October 29, 2014

This Online Learning Course is no longer available for purchase, but can be viewed by those who are currently subscribed.

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