Skip to Main Content


Video tutorials for library research strategies and resources.

Introduction to Indexes Video Tutorial

Introduction to Indexes from Lawrence W. Tyree Library on Vimeo.

This video tutorial will demonstrate how to use indexes of books to locate information about a topic.

Indexes can help you quickly find specific information within a book or set of books. For example, the Encyclopedia of Religion is a 15 volume set, which can make it difficult to look up a specific topic.

In most academic books, there will be an index. This is a list of topics that are in the book, along with where exactly to find that topic. Single volume books may have an index at the back. For multi-volume works, look at the last volume. Many times the spine of the book will say Index. In the Encyclopedia of Religion, volume 15 contains the index for the set.

Indexes organize topics alphabetically, beginning with A. This is the first page of the index in the Encyclopedia of Religion. The index will tell you in what volumes and pages your topic can be found. If you were looking up Aaron, you could go to several different pages to learn about him, including pages 1 and 8144. The main entry for each topic is in bold. For instance, the main entry for Aaron is located on pages 1-2.

This encyclopedia only gives page numbers in the index. However, at the bottom of every other page, there is a key to tell you which pages numbers can be found in each of the volumes. Since volume 1 has pages 1 to 610, the main entry on Aaron can be found in that volume.

Some topics may have a few different aspects to explore. If you were looking up mandalas, you can find the main entry on pages 5640-5646. But mandalas are used in several religions, and three are listed here: Buddhist, Tantric Buddhist (listed inversely), and Hindu. Under each religion are aspects of these types of mandalas, along with corresponding page numbers.

The main entry for mandalas begins on pages 56406. Looking at the index key, this means the entry is in volume 8.

Here is the first page of the entry for mandalas.

There are some other common index terms to be aware of. If you look up Medicine Lodge, it tells you to see Sun Dance. This means you need to look up this term to find the page number. The entry for Medicine Men, however, gives you page numbers, but then says to see also Shamanism. This is a related concept that you may be interested in looking up.

Single volume books may have indexes as well. Flip to the end of the book to locate it.

This index for the Encyclopedia of World Scriptures begins on page 291.

The entry for the Koran shows that information about this topic can be found in a few different places. The main entry, which is bold, is on pages 196-211.

Here is the first page of the Koran entry.

This concludes the video tutorial on using indexes. If you still have questions, please contact a librarian:

Building Y, NW Campus

Commitment to Equal Access and Equal Opportunity

Santa Fe College is committed to an environment that embraces diversity, respects the rights of all individuals, is open and accessible, and is free of harassment and discrimination. For more information, visit or contact

SACSCOC Accreditation Statement

Santa Fe College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). For more information, visit