LiveIndex is a great script for converting the page references in the index of a book into interactive hyperlinks. It is particularly useful when a professional index has been made for the book, rather than relying on InDesign’s built-in indexing feature, which often is just a list of words and page numbers.

Now, when using LiveIndex it is important to correctly set what the target electronic publication will be: PDF or ePub.

Depending on that choice, LiveIndex creates different kinds of hyperlink destinations.

If PDF export is the target, LiveIndex creates page destinations based on the page numbers in the index. This is simple and works just as expected. The consumer can click on any page in the index in the PDF and be taken directly to that page. Great.

However, if ePub export is targeted, there is an obvious problem: An index does not direct the reader to a particular word or paragraph on a page, but rather to the page itself. It is left up to the reader to find the particular topic he is looking for on that page.

For this reason, when targeting ePubs, LiveIndex links the page numbers in the index to what is currently the first word on the target page. Since ePubs do not contain page divisions, or, more accurately, since page divisions in an ePub are fluid, LiveIndex cannot create hyperlink page destinations as it does when the target is PDF.

Because of this, LiveIndex users should be aware of the following two caveats when creating ePub indexes with LiveIndex:

  1. First, if you’re converting a print book to ePub, and the Index refers to the page numbers in the print edition, make sure you run LiveIndex right at the beginning. Because often, after one starts preparing a book for ePub, text reflows, and then the Index page numbers are no longer accurate. So you would want to lock those down right at the beginning.
  2. Second, since LiveIndex cannot know which word to link to, it links to the first word on the page. This is really how a regular Index works to – it just points to the page, not to the precise location on the page. However, with ePubs, this could mean that the user has to scroll down a little until they find the topic they were looking for.

Of course, it is possible, after running LiveIndex, to manually move the hyperlink destinations to a more precise place on the page than the beginning. This is what some users have told me they do.