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Creating an Index

An index is a searchable list of keywords, each of which corresponds to one or more topics. When building an index, you should anticipate which words and phrases the reader is likely to look for and associate them with matching Help topics.

In an online Help system, selecting a keyword displays a list of the associated topics. In a printed manual, the index at the end of the book shows the page numbers that correspond to each keyword.

If you have been following all the steps in this QuickStart, you already know the easiest way to quickly add a keyword while you are editing help content. Simply select a word in your HTML editor and click the Keyword icon in the Doc-to-Help toolbar.

This method is great when you are working on individual topics, but it is not convenient when working with the overall help system. For that, Doc-to-Help has an Index view that shows all the keywords and their topics, and allows you to edit the keywords using drag and drop.

The image below shows Doc-to-Help's Expert mode Index view.

The index view shows a list with all keywords currently defined in the project. When you select a keyword on the list, all topics currently assigned to that keyword appear on the list below. You can add topics to the list by dragging them from the list on the right.

You can also use the context menus to add, rename, and remove keywords and topics assigned to them.

Before you start working on the index, drag the Style column to the top of the topic list. This will group topics by heading and will make it easier for you to find them.

Now let's add some keywords to our help system.

1.   Right-click the keyword list and select New, then type the new keyword Equipment and press Enter to create the new keyword.

2.   Select each of the topics directly related to equipment on the topic list and drag them to the list below the keywords. There are at least eight topics, from "Buoyancy Compensators" to "Where Should You Buy Your Gear?".

3.   Repeat the steps above to create the keywords Professional Diving and Frequently Asked Questions.

4.   Rebuild the project and select the Index tab to see the new index.

Doc-to-Help supports advanced indexing features such as multi-level keywords and automated index generation using scripts. These topics are useful in large help systems. See Building an Index for additional information.