How to Add a Traditional Glossary to a Microsoft Word Document

371080 How to Add a Traditional Glossary to a Microsoft Word Document

Adding a glossary to the end of a document provides a quick reference for readers to look up unfamiliar terms used throughout the text. While Microsoft Word doesn’t have a built-in glossary feature, you can create one manually using Word’s existing tools.

Identify Terms for the Glossary

The first step is to identify key terms in your document that would benefit from having a definition in the glossary. As you write your content, highlight technical terms, acronyms, or any vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to readers. You can also review the finished document to catch any terms you may have missed.

Mark Glossary Terms in the Document

Once you’ve identified glossary terms, you need to mark each instance in the document text. This allows Word to automatically create the glossary later.

To mark a term:

  1. Highlight the term in the document
  2. Go to the References tab
  3. Click Mark Citation under the Table of Authorities section
  4. Select the Glossary category
  5. Click Mark to mark the term

Repeat this process to mark all glossary terms in the document.

Insert the Glossary

After marking all terms, you can insert the glossary:

  1. Place your cursor where you want the glossary to appear
  2. On the References tab, click Insert Table of Authorities
  3. Change any table formatting options
  4. Under Categories, check Glossary
  5. Click OK

The glossary is now inserted, complete with page number references.

Format the Glossary

The automatically generated glossary will need some manual formatting:

  • Delete the title at the top, or replace it with “Glossary”
  • Remove the page numbers by selecting them and pressing delete
  • Adjust spacing and indentation using paragraph formats
  • Add any additional formatting like borders, background color, etc.

Update Terms

If you edit or add glossary terms later, you’ll need to update the glossary:

  1. On the References tab, click Update Table
  2. Check the Update page numbers only box
  3. Click OK

This will update the glossary without altering your manual formatting.

Tips for an Effective Glossary

Follow these best practices when creating a glossary:

  • Use concise, reader-friendly definitions
  • Put terms in alphabetical order
  • Use consistent formatting throughout
  • Place it at the end of the document or chapter
  • Include it in the table of contents
  • Update the glossary with any new terms

Creating a glossary takes a bit of work, but it adds significant value for readers. By compiling unfamiliar terms and definitions in one place, a glossary makes your content more accessible.

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