Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Improper Index References.

Improper Index References

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 6, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Katherine wrote to indicate that she has some problems creating an index where the same term is indexed on page i and page 1 or on page ii and page 2. If the indexed term is on page i and page 2, there is no problem; the problem only exists when the page numbers are counterparts of each other.

From what I can tell, Word is designed to behave like this. As far as the program is concerned, there are duplicate page numbers in the document (i is the same as 1, and ii is the same as 2), so Word thinks that one page reference covers both occurrences.

Normally, this behavior by Word wouldn't be a problem. Commonly accepted page numbering practices use lowercase Roman numerals to paginate front matter or introductory matter. In the publishing world, front matter is seldom—if ever—indexed. Instead, the main body of the manuscript is indexed, and sometimes the appendices.

The only way around this behavior by Word is to take a look at the structure of your document, and consider moving any indexable content to the main body of the document—to page numbers where you typically use Arabic numerals.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12231) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Improper Index References.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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