Using imakeidx package, I am generating indices. When defining an index key, I want to use @ for the key as follows:


@variable is the index key. It seems like @ is deserved for some other usage. How may I use the @ symbol?

  • I believe it is \index{"@variable}. You should 'quote' in this way any of: @, !, and | according to the makeindex manual.
    – jon
    May 9, 2016 at 4:15

1 Answer 1


The @ character is indeed reserved for MakeIndex processing; it is used for entries such as


where the text to be indexed has formatting and we want to specify a key for sorting purposes.

You have two possibilities. The first is quoting the @ by typing


(but this may fail if you load babel and a language that makes " into a shorthand prefix).

The second strategy is adding

actual '='

at the very beginning of your main TeX file (before \documentclass is the best place).

This assumes = is never used in your entries. The “sort key” entries like the example above can be input using = instead of @


and \index{@variable} will now be sorted among the symbols.

The trick is that the filecontents* environment will write a file named <jobname>.mst (where <jobname> is the main TeX file name) and MakeIndex looks for it when processing a file.

However, this will prevent loading an .ist files, so beware. If you pass no option to MakeIndex, the method will work.

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