What guidelines should be followed when choosing index entry wording?

Choosing the right wording for index entries in DITA XML is essential for effective documentation navigation. Index entry wording should be clear, concise, and closely aligned with the content it represents. Following specific guidelines ensures that index entries serve their purpose in helping users find information efficiently.

Use Precise Terminology

When selecting index entry wording, opt for precise terminology that directly reflects the content. Avoid using vague or ambiguous terms that might lead to confusion. For instance, if your documentation discusses “data encryption,” choose “data encryption” as the index term rather than a broader term like “security” to provide users with a clear path to the relevant information.

Avoid Redundancy

Ensure that your index entries are not redundant or repetitive. Each index term should represent a unique concept or topic within your documentation. Redundant entries can clutter the index and confuse users. Review your index entries carefully to eliminate duplicates and streamline the user experience.

Consider Synonyms

While using precise terminology is crucial, also consider including synonyms or alternative terms that users might use when searching for information. This helps accommodate different user preferences and ensures that users can find content even if they use slightly different wording. For example, alongside “data encryption,” you might include “data security” as an alternative index entry.


Here’s an example of well-chosen index entry wording in DITA XML:

  <indexterm>Data Encryption</indexterm>
  <indexterm>Data Security</indexterm>
  <indexterm>Information Protection</indexterm>
  <indexterm>Data Privacy Measures</indexterm>
  <indexterm>Encryption Algorithms</indexterm>

In this example, the index entries use precise terminology and include synonyms to ensure that users can find relevant content using different search terms.