Microsoft Word/index for manual


QUESTION: Hi Suzanne,

I have 25 technical chapters (each a separate Word file containing many tables, photos, and figures) that I am combining into one PDF, which is a manual.  That part is all good. My question is in regards to making an index of technical terms for the final document which will be its own section at the end of the document.  

I can make an index in a Word file, that is no problem, but I need one master integrated index, not 25 separate ones.  

I am using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC for the PDF. I can't find an option for inserting an index.

Seems like such a simple problem, yet I can't figure it out.

Thanks for any help,

ANSWER: It would be far easier if you would combine all the chapters into a single Word file and then make the index. Making an index is no simple thing even then (for instructions and suggestions, see If you insist on keeping them separate, you'll need to use an RD field, in a separate Word file, to compile the index for the 25 chapters (though you'll still have the work of inserting the XE fields). For help with that, see (this is for a TOC, but it works the same way for an index, I believe).

Another approach is to create a Master Document; for instructions on that, see Be aware that Master Documents are risky; see

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the help.  I haven't had luck with master documents in the past, although granted it was awhile ago that I used them.

I broke these chapters into separate documents because they are complicated and Word was hanging up; I would end up with crashing and corrupted files on a regular basis.  I suppose that I could try again.

Is there a way to combine the chapters without using copy/paste?

Regardless of how you do it, the real work is in marking the index entry fields, and you can do that with the documents separated. Then you could try using the RD field solution to see if it works to your satisfaction. The difficulty there would be that you will have to have restarted numbering in each chapter to follow that in the previous one, and you'll need to have the XE fields hidden to make sure the page numbering is correct.

If you want to combine the chapters, assuming that they are all based on the same template (and therefore have the same styles, page formatting, etc.), then just create a copy of the first chapter (or front matter) and then use Insert | File (in Word 2003 or earlier) or Insert | Text | Object | Text from File in Word 2007 or later) to append each additional file to the end. If you want section breaks between the chapters, then you can insert a section break at the end of the document before adding each chapter.

Word can handle very long, complex documents, but it does sometimes become cumbersome to work with them (in my experience, each Save can take a very long time). But if the editing is complete before you combine them, so that little manipulation is required, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. The last big book I made had 756 pages, 770 footnotes, and 218 inline images (not counting the few wrapped ones), and I handled it in one file (though without an index), and there are reports of documents of 10,000 pages created in Word, so it can be done!
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Suzanne S. Barnhill


I've been using Word for Windows since version 2.0 (1992), and the more I learn about it, the more I realize how little I know. But I may know a few things that you don't, and I'll help if I can. I answer many questions every day in Microsoft's peer support forums and as a result have been awarded the MVP (Most Valuable Professional) designation by Microsoft Corporation. You may be able to find the answer to your question at the Word MVPs' FAQ site or at my own Word FAQ site, so please check those first! Please, no questions about VBA (macros), Registry editing, networks, or complex merges, as I have no experience with these aspects of Word, nor do I have any experience with Word for Mac. Please indicate which version of Word you are using; if you are not sure, see "What version of Word do I have?".


I have a master's degree in classics (Latin), which is surprisingly helpful, though I no longer teach. The things I am proudest of: Having raised two children to maturity, both Merit Scholars, both college graduates (one a philosophy major!), one Phi Beta Kappa (from Harvard!); having been made a Paul Harris Fellow by my Rotary club; having been designated a Microsoft MVP.

Rotary Club of Fairhope, Friends of the Fairhope Public Library

B.A. (Latin), Agnes Scott College, 1966; M.A. (Classics), Emory University, 1972.

Awards and Honors
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award every year since 1999; many Rotary honors

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