What is Document Indexing? The Complete Guide

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Written By Haisam Abdel Malak
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Because many businesses are in the process of digitizing their paper documents into digital ones, especially after the COVID19 epidemic hit the world, it is critical to discuss document indexing in depth.

Document indexing is the process of labeling digital documents with certain attributes to improve the efficiency and accuracy of information retrieval. This index is usually used by different information management systems to quickly locate specific words within a document allowing users to access documents faster.

Document indexing offers a long-term solution to the difficulties of document storage, access, organization, and protection.

Document indexing is important in information retrieval because it establishes the speed and accuracy with which information and documents can be retrieved within your organization. It provides a link from the terms to the documents that contain them. Without proper document indexing, retrieving information will be time-consuming and costly.

It is the next step toward a comprehensive document management implementation when you begin converting physical records to digital.

As you work toward becoming a paperless office, there are particular products and strategies you need to engage in to fully reap the benefits of becoming paperless.

During working hours, we spend a significant amount of time looking for documents. In fact, according to recent research, knowledge workers spend over an hour every day just locating the documents they want.

That is why it is critical for businesses to use document indexing to make dealing with documents easier.

This post will discuss document indexing, why it is essential, and provide examples.

Document Indexing
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What is document indexing and filing?

The term index derives from Latin and means ‘to point out, lead, direct, or find.’

Document indexing is the practice of tagging documents with certain attributes so that they may be easily searched for and retrieved later. For example, a corporation may index records based on client name, customer number, date, purchase order, or other critical characteristics that may be useful later.

Indexing, in other words, develops a path to documents based on how a company’s business processes operate and how its employees work.

One of the most important aspects of a good document management implementation is the creation of indexes. Every organization is different, and choosing what indexing criteria to employ is a vital choice for getting the most out of your new digital data.

The following are some examples

  • Vendor name
  • Patient name
  • Addresses
  • Account numbers
  • Invoice number
  • Purchase order number
  • Dates

The index data is saved or incorporated into a database or a document management system, which offers a framework for users to find documents.

Document Indexing Methods

There are three methods your organization can use when indexing a document: Full-Text document indexing, Metadata, and Field-Based. When indexing files for your document management system, it is recommended that you use a combination of all the available methods for faster and more accurate document retrieval.

1- Full-Text Document Indexing

Full-text search, or FTS, is one of the most effective methods for retrieving documents as rapidly as possible.

When documents are scanned, they are converted into digital images. To comprehend the text, we use several technologies such as OCR, which builds an index of each phrase and its position.

These technologies read each page of a digital document, extracting information and indexing it for subsequent retrieval.

When interacting with multiple languages, difficulties may develop. However, many of the available tools are quite accurate and support a large range of languages.

More information may be found in the articles below.

What is Optical Character Recognition (OCR)? – The Number One IM Blog (theecmconsultant.com)

What Is Data Capture and Why It Is Important? (theecmconsultant.com)

2- Metadata

The term “metadata” refers to “data that contains information about other data.”

To put it another way, it is “data about data.” It contains all of the information required to comprehend and efficiently utilize the data.

However, its relevance becomes clear when we consider its functional use.

Metadata can be added to digital documents as tags or other information for subsequent search and retrieval.

It is a highly strong approach, but executing it manually is prone to errors. There are other technologies on the market to automate this procedure, which will increase staff productivity, and efficiency, and make them less prone to errors.

I strongly recommend reading my prior essay below to have a better understanding of the subject.

What is METADATA: Why Is It Extremely Important? (theecmconsultant.com)

3- Field-Based Indexes

Field-based indexing, which is conceptually related to metadata indexing, refers to various information sources inside a database, also known as fields.

This type of indexing option enables the user to search for details that are unique to each page. The field might be a vendor name, received data, type, or any other designated area, for example.

How is document indexing done?

The process of document indexing involves manually or automatically scanning through scanned and digitized documents to identify predefined key phrases. Of course, manual document indexing is a time-consuming and error-prone operation. The most suggested method is to automate this process.

  • Manually, an employee must go through all digital documents and extract critical information to use when producing a document in the document management system.
  • The majority of current technologies allow for the complete automation of this operation. When the document is scanned, the system will use optical character recognition algorithms to extract significant information from the page, store it as metadata, and make full-text search available.

Why Is Document Indexing Important?

Digital document indexing ensures that you can find the file you need in minutes. Information from stored documents must be used to make critical decisions. It enables organizations to save time searching for documents, save money on storage, improve collaboration, and improve information flow.

Document digitization enables rapid and easy retrieval, saves space, and offers security, legal compliance, and disaster recovery.

Document indexing is critical for providing staff with the capacity to find information quickly. Let’s have a look at some of the additional advantages of indexing.

Document indexing can benefit orgazation by:

1- Save time

To be agile in today’s fast-paced environment, it is vital to be equipped with the right technology, tools, and processes. One of the most significant aspects of being able to react quickly is the capacity to easily discover papers.

Document indexing, when done effectively, will save your staff a significant amount of time on a daily basis.

2- Less storage costs

When it comes to storing paper documents, they take up a lot of room. Digitized papers simply need virtual storage space, which is typically inexpensive.

3- Audit compliance

Audits are frequently time-consuming and expensive, especially when dealing with tangible records. Having your data scanned and indexed will help the process move much more smoothly and quickly.

4- Easier collaboration

When employing paper documents, internal organization coordination between different departments is necessary and difficult.

Digitizing papers and indexing documents should allow for faster sharing, transferring, and reading, putting everyone on the same page.

5- Better decision making

The information included in saved documents is dependent on effective decision-making. If your business requires a significant amount of time to identify and access papers, the decision-making process is delayed, and you may miss out on possible possibilities.

Digital document indexing significantly accelerates your decision-making process.

6- Faster document access

It goes without saying that digital and indexed papers are easier for your staff to obtain and access, increasing their productivity and efficiency.

7- Improve information flow

Digital information is more easily shared and flows smoothly across departments and coworkers.

Documents in the business will only be useful if the necessary information is conveniently accessible in the system. This can only be accomplished if the documents are properly indexed.


Document indexing is a strong approach for assisting later retrieval of documents from large archives containing thousands of documents.

Documents may be indexed by their full-text content (such that any word in the content may be accessed) or by information connected to the document, such as a unique identifier, date of production, or the document’s main theme.

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