[scribus] Alphabetical index in Scribus

John Jason Jordan johnxj at comcast.net
Fri Jun 20 17:15:36 UTC 2014

On Fri, 20 Jun 2014 15:58:51 +0200 (CEST)
pygmee <radar.map35 at free.fr> dijo:

>the days we will have a search engine that :
>1. check in all the document 
>2. check for character styles
>it will be very easy to do this. Right now we are missing both. Some
>might be done in python page by page and frame by frame or search in
>the source in which object a world with particular "invisible" car
>style is applied, make a list of it and then check with the API in
>which page they own.

Having written and published numerous textbooks, and having been a
student where I needed to use an index, let me point out that a good
index is not a mere afterthought. Here are some things to consider:

1) Nesting. This means making subtopics under a larger topic. If you do
want nesting, then each subtopic needs to have its own individual
entry, with a reference to the larger topic, e.g., "see <larger

2) Main entries. Sometimes a term will appear in numerous places in the
book, but there is one place where the term is first defined for the
reader, or where the discussion is the most complete. I used to bold
the page number(s) for the main entry, but you could do italics or some
other scheme instead. And if you do this, tell the user what the bold,
etc. means with a comment at the start of the index.

3) Cross references. These are entries that say "See also."

4) With indexes, more is better. Nothing is more frustrating to the
reader than trying to find something in a book and the term is not
listed in the index. This means not only should you make an entry for
everything that you think a reader might need to look up, but you also
need to duplicate the entry under other terms that the user might use. 

5) I have never found an indexing tool that did not require at least
a little manual cleanup after the index was created. 

The last time I needed to create an index for a book laid out with
Scribus I was fortunate in that almost all the text was in one story. I
copied the text in that story and pasted it into LibreOffice Writer,
then manually went through the Writer document and forced page breaks
at exactly the same places as the pages broke in Scribus. Having done
this I could use the LibreOffice indexing function, which offered me
most of the above features. When I finished the index (which Writer
places at the end of the text) I made some manual edits, then copied
and pasted it into Scribus as a separate story at the end of the book.

If you want a rudimentary indexing tool for Scribus it might be possible
with a script. I can envision a script that copies a selected word in
a text frame, pastes it into another text frame at the top of the frame
(so you can see it easily, bearing in mind that the index text will
quickly overflow its frame). Then the script can add a tab at the end of
the pasted entry, insert the page number, then move to the beginning of
the entry and enter a line feed and move up to the new blank line so
you'll be ready for the next entry. When finished you can copy and paste
the entire index into a Writer document and sort it, plus make other
manual edits as desired. Writer can sort text by line, so it is not
necessary to use Calc or a Writer table for the sorting. 

If someone wants to embellish the script it could have an option to
bold or italicize the page number for main entries and an option to add
"see also" instead of a page number. Nesting might be more difficult to

Another script could sort a story on a line by line basis, eliminating
the need for a LibreOffice detour.

A script such as I envision above should not be difficult to implement,
but a true indexing tool would have the ability to change the page
numbers if the entry moves to a different page. In other words, you'd
have to be sure you used the script only after you were sure that there
were going to be no further edits to the book that might alter the

It might also be possible to create a script that would generate an
index by searching for a specific character style. For example, I could
create a character style called Index_entry, then go through the book
and apply it to every term that I want in the index. When I have
finished I can use the script, which would search the entire work and
generate the index in a separate frame. If you want the capability of
having main entries you could create two character styles; one for
regular entries and one for main entries, so the script would bold or
italicize the page number when it finds a main entry character style.
An advantage of this approach is that if the page numbers change you
can just regenerate the index, although you'd lose any manual edits to
the index.

Yet another option might be to create a separate indexing program that
would work on a PDF file. I dont know if such programs currently exist,
but if so they are probably not free and open source. Note, however,
that if you index based on a PDF you'd have to be sure that you didn't
outline any fonts when exporting from Scribus. An advantage of a
separate PDF indexer is that it could be used on any PDF file, not just
PDFs created from Scribus. This would increase its popularity, and
concomitantly the number of potential developers.

I offer the above just as thoughts for further discussion. It would be
cool to have an indexing tool for Scribus, even if it is not as fully
capable as we might wish.

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