Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Inconsistent Formatting in an Index.

Inconsistent Formatting in an Index

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 12, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Don has written a book using Word. Following the text is the index. The index is about 20 pages long and looks fine, except that Don is getting a few index entries appearing as bold text, perhaps 10 entries in total throughout the 20 index pages. He doesn't want them bold and has no idea why they are. If Don right-clicks on the entry and removes the bold it looks fine, but after he rebuilds the index by updating the field the bold reappears—always on the same 10 or so items. The related text in the body of the document is not bold. Don has deleted the words in the text, then rebuilt the index to eliminate that entry, then carefully re-typed the text in the manuscript making sure it is not bold. Sure enough, it becomes bold again in the index.

The give-away in this description is that the bold appears when the index is rebuilt. This means that there is a problem with the field codes used to mark index entries in the document. Here's what you should do, in general terms:

  1. Locate the XE field code for the index entry. (You may need to enable the display of hidden text in order to see the location of the XE fields.)
  2. Expand the entry so that you can see the underlying code.
  3. Select the entire field code (including the braces) and press Ctrl+Spacebar. This sets the code back to normal, default font characteristics.
  4. Make sure the XE field does not contain the \b switch. If it does, delete it.
  5. Collapse the XE field again.

It is also possible that one of the styles used for indexing (Index 1, Index 2, etc.) are set to bold and not regular text. To determine if that is the case, examine what styles are used in the offending index entries and then modify those styles to reflect how you want the text to appear.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6686) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Inconsistent Formatting in an Index.

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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