Want to home-brew a classic “back of the book” index from a Word file, ideally using freeware? Here are all the current software options I could find:

* TExtract can handle a wide variety of input files and seems to be favoured by pro book indexers. From $79 (use for a single title) to $595 (buy outright). Seems likely to take a while to learn.

* WordEmbed v3.11. £80. A MS Word Macro that helps to automate the process where your pre-made book index gets slotted in as an intrinsic ‘living/linked’ part of the MS Word document. It seems to be well regarded as a helping hand, but is not an automated maker of the index in the first place. Not likely to be used by amateurs but it might be something you could tell your hired low-cost ebook freelancer about — they might be interested in learning how to use it and thus adding to their skills-base.

* PDF Index Generator. $69.95, with a free demo limited to the first ten pages of the book. Create a basic automatic index, and then trim back and supplement it as needed. Note that it requires that you install Java to run it, and having Java installed on your PC these days is a very major security risk.

* Index Generator 5.5 is un-crippled freeware for PDFs. It’s more basic than PDF Index Generator (above) but is quite capable and easy to use. I found that it doesn’t require Java to launch or work. For Windows, Mac and Linux. Could make it a lot easier to hand off the indexing to a low-cost ebook freelancer, and get something worthwhile back. Could be used in conjunction with the free Calibre (see below).

* For a simple table of: word | language | times used the free Calibre ebook management and conversion software can also give you a quick output from an ebook of all words in the book. Calibre’s simple word table can then be exported to .csv and thus sorted in MS Excel. To access it from inside Calibre: load your ebook and convert to ePub (it only works with the ePub format) | click the tiny top-right “more” arrows | drop down the extra hidden toolbar | Edit Book | Tools | Reports | Words | Save…

The Word file’s word capitalisation is retained in the resulting Calibre list. On loading into Excel and sorting for capitalised words, one may thus quickly create a rough checklist of important name items, for reference use when selecting words with the likes of Index Generator (which regrettably has no such ‘show capitalised name words only’ function).

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