How can you guide users to use the index effectively alongside search?

Effectively guiding users to utilize both the index and search features in DITA documentation can significantly enhance their experience and help them find information efficiently.

Clear Instructions

Begin by providing clear instructions to users on how to use the index alongside the search feature. You can include a brief introductory paragraph or a dedicated section at the beginning of your documentation that explains the purpose of the index and search functions. Encourage users to start with the index to find structured, curated entries related to specific topics or keywords. Emphasize that the index serves as a starting point for exploration.

Index Integration

Integrate the index entries organically into your content. Whenever you introduce a key term or concept, link it to the corresponding index entry. This way, users can easily access the index from within the content. For example, if you mention “Networking” in your documentation, make sure it links to the index entry for “Networking.” This encourages users to explore related topics in the index as they read through the content.


Here’s an example demonstrating how to guide users to use the index effectively alongside search:

  <p>To effectively navigate our documentation, utilize the provided index and search features. The index offers structured access to key topics and terms, while the search allows for open-ended exploration. Start with the index to find specific entries, and if you don't find what you need, use the search bar to perform a broader search.</p>
  <p>For instance, when you encounter terms like <indexref href="networking_entry">Networking</indexref> or <indexref href="security_entry">Security</indexref> in the content, click on them to access the corresponding entries in the index. These entries provide a curated list of related topics. If you're looking for more specific information or can't find a term in the index, use the search bar to explore the entire documentation.</p>

In this example, we encourage users to utilize both the index and search features by explaining their respective roles and integrating index entries directly into the content.