What criteria should be used to prioritize index entries?

Prioritizing index entries in DITA documentation is essential to make the index user-friendly and efficient in helping users find relevant information quickly. Several criteria can be used to determine which index entries should be given priority:


The most critical criterion is the relevance of the term or concept to the documentation’s subject matter. Entries that directly relate to the primary topics and goals of the documentation should be prioritized. These are the terms that users are most likely to search for when seeking information.

Frequency of Use

Consider how frequently a term or concept appears throughout the documentation. Terms that are repeated often and play a central role in the content should be given higher priority. This ensures that users can quickly access information on commonly used terms, enhancing the usability of the index.


Complex or specialized terms that may be challenging for users to remember or spell correctly should also be prioritized. These terms might include technical jargon, acronyms, or domain-specific terminology. By including them in the index with high priority, you assist users in finding essential but potentially difficult-to-recall terms.


Here’s an example of how to prioritize index entries based on relevance, frequency of use, and complexity:

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

In this example, “Installation” and “Troubleshooting” are given high priority because they are both highly relevant and frequently used terms in the documentation. “FAQs” is assigned low priority because it’s less central to the content, and “Configuration” and “Advanced Settings” are in the medium priority category, considering their relevance and usage.