6. Generating Indexes and Glossaries

Most theses will need a glossary of terms or a list of acronyms or notation. It's less likely that you'll need an index in your thesis, but since the same mechanism is used to generate glossaries and indexes, both topics are covered in this chapter. There are two basic methods of generating a glossary or index:

  1. The glossary or indexing information is written to a temporary file by LaTeX while the document is being built. An external application is then used to collate and sort the entries defined in that temporary file and LaTeX code to display the result is written to another file. You then need to run (PDF)LaTeX on your document to ensure the sorted and collated glossary or index is displayed. (You may then need an additional LaTeX run to ensure the table of contents is up-to-date.) This is similar to the way you had to use bibtex or biber between LaTeX runs in the previous chapter.

  2. The glossary or indexing information is collated and sorted by LaTeX during the document build. (At least two runs are required, but no external indexing application is needed.)

The first approach (see §6.1. Using an External Indexing Application) is more efficient, but a lot of users, especially beginners, have difficulty with the intermediate step where the external indexing application is run. The second approach (see §6.2. Using LaTeX to Sort and Collate Indexes or Glossaries (datagidx package)) is slower, but you don't need to worry about running an indexing application. If you're not writing in English (in particular if you are not using the Latin alphabet) you're better off using the first approach with xindy. In this chapter I'll describe both approaches and you can choose which you prefer.

This book is also available as A4 PDF or 12.8cm x 9.6cm PDF or paperback (ISBN 978-1-909440-02-9).

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