How to Create an Abbreviation List in Microsoft Word

By Elizabeth Mott

Microsoft Word lacks the ability to create word and abbreviation lists or glossaries as a clickable function within its set of features, but you can "borrow" other Word features to produce your list. Indexes list important terms from within a work and display the page numbers on which they appear. With a trip to another application and some clipboard action to turn special coded text into regular type, you can turn an index into a vocabulary list that itemizes the abbreviations in your document.

Step 1

Open your Microsoft Word document and scan through each page for abbreviations you want to incorporate into a list. Double-click on or click and drag through a word or phrase that constitutes an important abbreviation, selecting it in the text.

Step 2

Press "Shift-Alt-X," or switch to the "References" tab of the Microsoft Word ribbon and click on the "Index" section's "Mark Entry" item, to create an index entry based on your text selection. In the Mark Index Entry dialog box, click on the "Mark" button to add the term you selected. The act of marking an index entry inserts hidden codes into your document to identify the selection. Continue the Mark Entry process to mark each term that qualifies for your list as an addition to the Index.

Step 3

Press "Ctrl-End" to navigate to the end of your document. Press "Enter" to add a blank line after your text concludes. Click on the "Insert Index" item in the Reference tab's Index section to open the Index dialog box. Click on the "OK" button without changing the default index settings.

Step 4

Select the text of the index. Press "Ctrl-C" to copy it to the clipboard. Press "Ctrl-Alt-V," or switch to the Home tab of the Microsoft Word ribbon and click on the Clipboard group's "Paste" item arrow, to access the "Paste Special" option. Choose "Unformatted Text" as the paste mode. Select the text you pasted and copy it back to the clipboard.

Step 5

Create a new Microsoft Word document and paste the recopied index text into it. Scroll through the text and find the index entry with the highest page number after it. Count the number of digits in the page number.

Step 6

Press "Ctrl-H" to access Find and Replace. Type a comma followed by a space into the "Find What" box. After the space, type the combination "^#," without the punctuation, once for each digit in the highest page number in the list. For example, if the last entry appeared on page 53 of your master Word document, type "^#^#" without the quotation marks.

Step 7

Click on the "Replace All" button to remove all the highest index page numbers. Delete the last "^#" from your Find text and click on the "Replace All" button again to remove the next set of numbers. Continue shortening the Find text and replacing the index page-number markers until you remove all of them.

Step 8

Press "Ctrl-C" to copy the edited index text to the clipboard. Paste the text back into your master Word document.

Tips & Warnings

  • Create a new Microsoft Word document in which to remove the page numbers from the text you built as an index, so you can use the Remove All function to eliminate the numbers. If you perform this function in a Word file that contains other text, you delete any numeric content from it.
  • If your Microsoft Word document already contains an index, make a copy of the document and delete the existing index entries from the duplicate file. To find and delete the index markers, switch to the "Home" tab of the Word ribbon, locate the "Paragraph" group and click on the "Show/Hide Editing Marks" item. Select each index entry, including the braces that surround it, and delete it from the document copy. Once you remove the original index entries, you can insert your own to mark the abbreviations.
  • Instead of using the "Paste Special" command to insert the index content into your Word file as regular text, you can launch a text-editing application such as Notepad, open a new document and paste the index text you copied from Word into the document window. Select the text you pasted, copy it back to the clipboard, return to Word and paste the text into your document. This paste/recopy process captures the text of the entries and breaks their link to the coded content of a Word index.
  • Click on the "More" button in the Replace function to access the "Special" button, which gives you access to the codes that find special characters and sequences in your text, including the code that finds any digit. This code selection enters "^#" in the Find field.
  • If you copy the text of an index from a Word document and paste it into another Word file, you see the message "No index entries found." That's because index text connects directly with the document. Its coded text won't translate to another Word document because Word associates its content only with the file in which you create it.
  • Information in this article applies to Microsoft Word 2013. It may differ slightly or significantly with other versions or products.