The refractive index of holographic emulsions is an important parameter needed for designing holographic optical elements (HOEs). In this paper theoretical calculations of the accuracy required for the refractive index and thickness of emulsions needed to meet predetermined Bragg angle conditions are presented. A modified interferometric method is used to find average refractive index of the unexposed and the developed dichromated gelatin holographic films. Slanted transmission HOEs are designed considering the index and thickness variations, and used to verify the index measurement results. The Brewster angle method is used to measure surface index of the unexposed and the developed films. The differences between average index and surface index are discussed. Theoretical calculation of the effects of index variation on diffraction efficiency, and experimental results for index modulation variation caused by process changes are also presented.