General questions

You do not need to uninstall. Cindex will install over the previous version, but it’s important to follow installation instructions (available from the download page), and ensure that there’s only one copy of Cindex on your computer.

Cindex for Mac and Cindex for Windows provide the standard look-and-feel familiar to Mac or Windows users. You work with Cindex as you would work with any other Windows or Mac program. If you know how to work with other Windows or Mac programs you will quickly feel at home with Cindex. In designing Cindex we have paid particular attention to the requirements of indexers, especially their need for efficient use of the keyboard. You can accomplish almost every task without your fingers having to leave the keyboard.

Cindex comes with an outstanding User’s Guide, written so as to take you through the indexing process rather than to provide a blow-by-blow account of commands. As you would expect, the Guide contains a comprehensive index. Cindex also provides instantly-accessible context-sensitive help that explains each command and setting you will use as you work on an index.

The User’s Guide is included with your download. You can also access the User’s Guide and supplemental documentation online.

Access context-sensitive help via Cindex’s Help menu.

We recommend that you read the first 4 chapters (approx. 75 pages, full of illustrations) of the User’s Guide, available online and included with the installer package.

We have several short YouTube videos that may be helpful, although they were created for an older version of Cindex and the contact information is outdated:

Mac users should substitute “Command” each time you hear or see “Control.”

Yes, but there will be no protection against concurrent modification of files by different users. Indexers in a multi-user environment can download Cindex Publishers’ Edition, which provides several extra features for the indexer and a range of administrative services for managing Cindex in a networked environment.

Cindex can import index entries in multiple formats, including:

  • Macrex .mbk files
  • Sky Index files of type .sky7, .txtsky7, and .txtsky8
  • Plain text records with quote-delimited, comma separated fields (a standard database format).
  • Plain text records with tab separated fields (a standard database format).

If you choose one of these file types via the Open command (File menu), Cindex will create a new index of the same name and import the records.

For full details, see Indexes from MACREX or SKY Index (pdf).

Cindex does not require a word processor, although it can save indexes as formatted documents that your word processor can read.

Cindex can produce finished indexes as fully-formatted documents that can be read by most word-processing and page-layout programs. Cindex can also provide documents marked-up for typesetting. You can provide custom mark-up if you wish. You simply select the kind of document you want when you have finished the index. Cindex automatically formats and encodes it properly.

Typically, to provide an index to a publisher, you will save it as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) file, using Save As (Windows) or Save To (Mac) from the File menu and changing the file format dropdown appropriately. Files in RTF format can be opened in both Word and WordPerfect.

For a plain ASCII file (which will not include type styles such as bold or italic), use Plain Text format.


From the Tools menu, choose Sort and select either Word-by-Word or Letter-by-Letter alphabetizing. (Simple alphabetizing attends to the quotes, while word-by-word and letter-by-letter alphabetizing ignore quotes along with other punctuation and symbols).

Make sure your entries display in Sorted order: check under the View menu that the item Sorted has a check mark next to it. If it doesn’t, choose Sorted. (You can also check this at a glance, because Cindex displays “Sorted” or “Unsorted” on the bar at the bottom of the screen.)

There are two possibilities:

1) You are using Simple alphabetizing. Cindex does not ignore articles or prepositions when you use “simple” alphabetizing. You must use word-by-word or letter-by-letter alphabetizing (choose Sort from the Tools menu).

2) Even if you are using word-by-word or letter-by-letter alphabetizing, Cindex will ignore “the” only if it is the first word in a sub-heading, or sub-sub-heading. Cindex does not ignore leading articles and prepositions in main headings. If you want Cindex to ignore “The” as a leading word in a main heading, place the word to be ignored inside angle-brackets, as in <The >Wind in the Willows.

When an index is sorted by English collation rules, letters from other alphabets (e.g., Greek) are filed after Latin letters. To make Cindex sort a Greek letter as something else, for example to sort omega (Ω) as ‘o’, place the letter ‘o’ beside it in braces, thus: {o} and hide Ω from sorting by placing it inside angle brackets: <Ω>.

Page References

Input page spreads with the chapter number and % before the first part only, e.g., 35%3-6. However, each individual reference MUST have the chapter number and % in front of it (e.g., 35%4, 35%7, 35%10). To avoid constant re-keying of the 35%, you can place this sequence on a hot key, so that you need use only one keystroke.

You probably entered 9% to denote chapter 9 and 19% to denote chapter 19. When you set up to make adjustments for chapter 9 and specified a Matching Pattern of 9%, Cindex would have altered references to pages in chapters 9, 19, 29, 39 etc. because it was looking to match any sequence of characters that contained 9%.

You can correct the error by subtracting the offset you unintentionally added to references for chapter 19. Set the Matching Pattern to 19% and set Adjustment to the negative of the number you originally added. To avoid this kind of problem when dealing with temporary pagination of chapter numbers with single and multiple digits, you should always use leading zeros to ensure a uniform number of digits preceding the % (e.g., 009%, 019%, 109%).


You create an index entry that contains the text of the note, then you make Cindex place this at the head of the index. First be sure that your sort is set to letter-by-letter or word-by-word alphabetizing. Create an index entry (or entries) that contains the text of your introductory note. Each entry will contain information that forces its placement at the beginning of your index. If you want empty lines to follow the note, you will need to create entries with hidden text that you force into position after the note. For example, if you wanted the introduction to your index to look like this:

Index entries reference volume, then page.
For full information, please see individual entries in the index at the end of each volume.

Abacus, 12:8
Abracadabra, 6:7
. . . .

You would make a series of separate entries that in draft view looked like this (record numbers are merely for illustration; do not type them in records):

1 { a}<Index entries reference volume, then page.>
2 { b}<For full information, please see individual entries in the index at the end of each volume.>
3 { c}< >
4 Abacus_12:8
5 Abracadabra_6:7

The contents of the braces in records #1 and #2 in the example–a leading space followed by a letter: { a} — force the sort of your introductory material, but will not appear on screen or in a print. The angle brackets (< >) enclosing your text will allow it to appear normally, but will ensure that it does not affect the sort. Since Cindex does not print or display completely blank lines or entries, to make it display an apparently blank entry you must use the angle brackets enclosing a space (as in record #3 in the example).

First, keep in mind that you’re concerned with line length so that you can give your client a controlled line count, which he/she will use for estimating a page count for the index. Many clients do not realize that Cindex can provide direct estimates of page count, if you specify the type size, font size, and page layout. You may wish to remind your client that if you have this information, you can provide a direct estimate of page count.

If you must provide a fixed number of characters per line, do the following. First, choose Courier for your font (sometimes called “Courier New” on computers running Windows), and choose a size of 12 points. Unlike proportionally-spaced fonts, which use varying amounts of space for different characters, Courier is a monospaced font that uses exactly the same amount of space for each character. For example, lowercase i and m each occupy the same space. As you may remember from typing class, if you’d set your typewriter to 10 characters per inch, you then would “work backwards” and plan your margins based on your paper width. Similarly, if you use Courier 12 (which simulates 10 pitch on the typewriter—10 characters per inch) you can do a little math and figure where you’d like your margins to fall using inches as your unit of measure. You’ll use this formula:

(character count for column width x .10″) + total margins = paper width
total margins = paper width – (character count for column width x .10″)

Based on a 35-character line, and an 8.5″ x 11″ page size, it works out like this:

35 x .10″ + total margins = 8.5″
total margins = 8.5″ – (35 x .10″)
which reduces to:
total margins = 8.5″ – 3.5″ = 5.0″

You can split the total amount for the margins however you’d like: 4″ and 1″, or 2″ and 3″ or 0″ and 5″ and so on. Cindex might adjust one or both of the settings slightly, depending on your printer’s needs. Don’t worry about this–the correction will not affect the number of characters displayed on a line.

Keep in mind that your client is probably asking for this because she’s using an old method for estimating pages, dating from a time when indexes were submitted as typewritten copy. This is not unusual, many publishers struggle with this daily. Since the advent of proportionally spaced fonts, with all their possible size and style variations, and the flexibility in specifying indentations (Just how big is a tab or an en dash or an em space anyway?) and page sizes, publishers have found it hard to develop satisfactory methods for estimating the size of the printed index.

Check your settings by choosing Page References from the Document menu. There are two separate settings for Punctuation: Before Single and Before Multiple. Be sure that you’ve got identical settings in both of these boxes. The “Before Single” setting will be applied when your text is followed only by one reference, the “Before multiple” setting will apply when you’ve more than one reference for a particular index entry.

Sometimes, text that looks variably spaced on the screen is in fact spaced correctly for printing. Letters formed on the screen can look incorrectly spaced because the resolution of the screen is lower than the resolution of your printer. If you are in doubt, print a test page.


Maybe, maybe not. The leading indentation that Cindex provides for subheadings in a Rich Text Format file can be defined either as an attribute of the subheading, or as a sequence of characters (usually tabs). Which method Cindex uses by default is determined by settings you make by choosing Preferences (Formatted Export) from the Edit menu (Windows) or the Cindex menu (Mac). When you use Save As… (Windows) or Save To… (Mac) from the File menu to save an RTF file you can override the default setting.

You don’t. When you save a formatted index in a file Cindex does not save line breaks, because you do not know the font or type size in which the index is to be set. If you want to view or print the index with the 43 character width limit, see the answer above.

An ASCII file contains only the formatted text of entries; it does not contain information about type styles (e.g., boldface or italics) or fonts. To make such a file choose Save As… from the File menu, then in the dialog box that Cindex displays choose Plain Text from the Format pop-up menu (Mac) or Save as Type list (Windows). Note, however, that all information about type styles and fonts will be omitted from the file (it is retained in the original index). For this reason it is generally not a good idea to save indexes as plain text files.

All Cindex documents that contain formatted indexes are text documents, and can be opened and viewed by any word processor or text editor. Depending on the document type, the word-processor that you use to open it may or may not interpret the formatting information. If you have made a file in Rich Text Format (RTF), the work-processor will interpret the formatting information, and should display the document as it looked when displayed by Cindex in a fully formatted view. If you have made a document that contains markup tags for typesetting, you will see these tags displayed as plain text.

Files & Internet

If your colleague uses Cindex 4, you and she should share index files (those with the filename extension ‘.ucdx’) or XML Records (‘.ixml’). To save XML records choose Save AS… (Save To… on Mac) from the File menu, then in the panel that Cindex displays, choose XML Records as the file type. The file types ‘ucdx’ and ‘.ixml’ are interchangeable between Cindex for Windows version 4 and Cindex for Mac version 4.

Note: If you are using Cindex for Mac version 4.2.5, you should upgrade to 4.3 to prevent an occasional “Save To” bug that can damage indexes.

There are several possible causes:

Check that the email attachment has not had its name changed. Cindex recognizes files it can open by the presence of a filename extension as the last part of the name (for example ‘.ucdx’ or or ‘.ixml’ or ‘.arc’). If the extension has been changed or removed, or has had additional text appended to it, Cindex will not be able to identify and open the file. For more information on moving files between platforms see the answer above.

Check that the file is in a format that Cindex can open directly. Cindex 3 can open index files (those with the filename extension ‘.ucdx’, or ‘.cdxf’), and archive files. Cindex can read archive files made by any earlier version of Cindex (Windows or Mac), but can read index files from earlier versions only if they were made on the platform you are currently using.

If you received a file with the filename extension ‘.dat’ (an obsolete format used for interchange with DOS computers) you must first create a new index, then import the contents of the file by choosing Import… from the File menu.