Index basics

About indexes and keywords

You create an index by adding keywords and associating them with topics. You can spell check an index, and you can use topic To Do lists to track your work while indexing. Change the capitalization of keywords in the Index pod.

An index can include multiple levels of keywords and cross-references to other keywords. Subkey­words can be listed under a main keyword or in a Topics Found window. If a main keyword is linked to more than two topics, it needs subkeywords.

Topic keywords

Topic keywords appear the same as index file (HHK) keywords, but they are stored within individual HTML topics. The Index Designer identifies topic keywords with a key/page icon topic_keyword_ico.png.

When working with topic keywords, consider the following details:

When you import topics into a project, their keywords are added to the index.

You can copy topic keywords to other topics and create index file keywords from them.

You can use topic keywords with Keyword Link controls.

If you remove a topic from a project, its keywords remain in the index in bold (indicating they are not linked to a topic). The keywords don’t appear in the index until you link them to other topics.

Topic keywords can link only to local HTML topics. The topic can appear only in the default Help window.

Topic keywords cannot cross-reference (link to) other keywords in the index. Create the cross-reference using an index file keyword.

Topic keywords are sorted in the index in alphabetical order. You cannot reorder the keywords.

Additional details for HTML Help projects

You can merge topic keywords from multiple CHM files into a master project.

If you add index controls to topics, the index file (HHK) for the control displays only index file keywords.

Additional details for WinHelp projects

When you convert a WinHelp project (HPJ) file to a RoboHelp project, the keywords in the WinHelp topics are saved as keywords in the index file.

Index file keywords

Index file keywords are saved in the project index file (HHK) rather than in the code of individual HTML topics. The Index Designer identifies index file keywords with a key icon index_file_keyword.png. You can create and maintain multiple indexes for a project.

When working with index file keywords, consider the following details:

You can use index file keywords with all supported output types and with Keyword Link controls.

Index file keywords can cross-reference (link to) other index file keywords.

Index file keywords can link to local HTML topics, multimedia files, baggage files, bookmarks, and URLs. Depending on the Help format, a topic can appear in the default Help window, a custom window, or a frame.

If you aren’t creating a binary index, and the project contains no topic keywords, you can sort the keywords in any order.

When you remove a topic from the project, index file keywords remain in the index if other topics use them. You can remove or retain the keywords, regardless of whether other topics use them.

You can merge index files with other projects. For HTML Help, binary indexes are required to merge projects. Keywords in binary indexes are sorted alphabetically and cannot be reordered.

If you import topics into a project, assign index file keywords separately. Index file keywords aren’t included with topics, as are topic keywords.

When you remove an index file keyword from an index, the keyword is also removed from topics that were assigned to it.

If you remove a topic from a project, and you don’t remove references to the index file keywords it uses, the keywords are marked unused. (The exception is if other topics use them.) If these keywords aren’t used by other keywords, the project includes broken links.

Specify keyword types for a project

A project can include index file keywords, topic keywords, or both. To specify the type to work with, change the project settings.

1)Select Project > Project Settings.

2)Click the General tab.

3)In Add New Keywords To, specify the keyword type.

To add index file keywords, select Index File (HHK).

To add topic keywords, select Topics.

4)Click OK.

New keywords use the type specified until you change the setting.


When you add a keyword to an index, it is automatically added to the index (HHK) or topic (HTM) files.

Index file keywords use the key icon index_file_keyword.png. Topic keywords use the page icon topic_keyword_ico.png.

Print indexes

1)Click the Index pod.

2)From the pop-up menu, select the items to print.

3)In the toolbar, click Print.

4)Click Properties and Page Setup to specify print options.

tip:   Use the Index report or the See Also report to print customizable keyword lists.

September 30, 2016

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