How do you decide which terms or concepts to include in the index?

Deciding which terms or concepts to include in the index of DITA documentation is a critical step in ensuring that users can efficiently locate relevant information. This decision should be based on careful consideration of the documentation’s content, user needs, and the significance of various terms or concepts within the context of your documentation.

Content Relevance

First and foremost, include terms or concepts that are essential to understanding the content of your documentation. Focus on key topics, subject matter, or technical terms that users are likely to search for. These terms should represent the core themes or subjects covered in your documentation.

User Perspective

Consider the perspective of your target audience. Think about the terms or concepts that users are most likely to use when searching for information. These may include common keywords, industry-specific terminology, or frequently asked questions. Understanding your users’ language and information-seeking behavior is crucial in determining what to include in the index.

Documentation Scope

Take into account the scope and purpose of your documentation. If your documentation covers a wide range of topics, prioritize terms that are central to your documentation’s primary objectives. For more extensive documentation sets, you may also consider creating sub-indexes or dividing the index into sections to improve usability.


Here’s an example illustrating how to decide which terms to include in the index based on content relevance, user perspective, and documentation scope:

  <entry term="Installation" loc="ch01_installation.html" />
  <entry term="Configuration" loc="ch02_configuration.html" />
  <entry term="Troubleshooting" loc="ch03_troubleshooting.html" />
  <entry term="FAQs" loc="ch04_faqs.html" />
  <entry term="Advanced Settings" loc="ch05_advanced_settings.html" />

In this example, terms such as “Installation,” “Configuration,” and “Troubleshooting” are included in the index because they represent critical topics that users are likely to search for when using the documentation.