Editing Your Index - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

About This Presentation

Editing Your Index


The user doesn't have to know anything about the domain, because the index is informative ... person, because she sits in the next cubicle, then ask her: Who is your audience? ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

Number of Views:143
Avg rating:3.0/5.0
Slides: 168
Provided by: inde8
Tags: editing | index | serve


Transcript and Presenter's Notes

Title: Editing Your Index

Editing Your Index
  • Presented by Maria Coughlin

Saturday, October 26 ASI Colorado Area
Chapter Fall Conference Louisville, Colorado
  • Who are you?
  • What do you want to get out of this presentation?
  • Ask questions!
  • Who am I to tell you anything?

Topics this morning
  • Some philosophy What is a good index? Theory
    and practice of indexing (esp. for tech writers).
  • What is editing? What does editing require?
    When does it begin? When does it end?
  • 1045-11 BREAK
  • Two brief practicums to illustrate editing errors
    and develop your editing chops.

Some philosophy
  • There is no silver bullet.
  • Two things I wont stop talking about
  • Everything changes according to the
    idiosyncrasies of the particular case (It
    depends! or content and users meet in context).
  • and Being consistent is more important than being
    right (Dick Evans).

Would a Big League glove give you confidence?
  • Nobody (Mulvany, Wellisch, Coughlin) is right all
    the time, because
  • Indexing is a craft (not an art not a science).
  • A craft doesnt separate design and manufacture.

  • The artfulness of your index can be measured by
    how well it helps the user make sense of the
  • The index supplies insight and illumination, not
  • The index is a content audit or inventory.

Which means that
  • To make an index, the indexer has to analyze the
    text (problem-seeking What would the reader
    user/look for?) and synthesize the entries
    (problem-solving Heres a concept that should
    be entered in the index.).

The Craft of Indexing
  • THINK before you INDEX.
  • But, making entries may be a way of thinking.
  • Still, dont get too attached to one form too
  • What you index reveals how you understand the
    concepts youre making available how the
    content makes sense.

Youre making something that makes sense!
  • An index is a systematic interpretation of the

What an index is not
A concordance An alphabetical list of
significant words in the domain. A list of topic
titles Though topic titles are often entered as
index keywords, this only produces an
alpha-sorted table of contents (TOC). An index is
not an outline of the domain. It is not
hierarchical! A commentary Indexes are not a
place for the indexers opinions. Indexes are
domain-centric and exegetical (the analysis is
taken from the text, not read into it). An
afterthought The index is not an accessory.
A definition
An index is a retrieval device that allows access
to all the important topics, facts, names, and
concepts in an information domain. An index is
arranged alphabetically or by function, command,
procedure, or topic. The subject matter and
purpose of the domain determine what is
important. The user doesnt have to know anything
about the domain, because the index is
informative and browseable. From Larry Bonura,
The Art of Indexing (1994, John Wiley Sons,
Inc. ISBN 0-471-01449-4). The Chicago Manual of
Style, 14th Ed., Chapter 17, Indexes. And
Meisheid (see Resources)
Why index?
  • To add value.
  • A good index makes any document more valuable
    to all users.
  • From Bonura
  • Usable indexes increase profitsbecause
  • Usable indexes improve documentation
  • Usable documentation improves products and
  • Usable products sell
  • From Kurt Ament, Indexing A Nuts-and-Bolts Guide
    for Technical Writers (2001, William Andrew
    Publishing, ISBN 0-8155-1481-6).

What makes a good index?
  • A good index is
  • Accurate
  • Complete
  • Concise
  • Cross-referenced
  • Logical
  • Reader-appropriate
  • Reliable
  • Usable (and reusable)

What makes a good index?
  • Accurate Each item references a relevant topic.
  • Comprehensive Every relevant term is included.
  • Concise References are well-chosen.
  • Cross-referenced See and See also bring in
    relations of terms. with a well-defined network
    of cross references, the mob becomes an army
    Charles Ammi Cutter
  • Double posted Entries are inverted (double
    posted) as necessary to facilitate access.

What makes a good index?
  • Encompassing References for all similar
    concepts scattered throughout the information
    space are gathered into the index (Bonura calls
    this depth of indexing).
  • Parallel and consistent Terms are grammatically
    comparable and similarly represented.
  • Text-centered The index serves the text of the
    information space and not the prejudices of the
  • From Meisheid

Rules for indexing
  • In plain language!
  • If you pick it up, pick it up. Do Mi Stauber
  • You can have fast, cheap, good. Pick two. Dick
  • Know thy audience. Meisheid
  • It depends.

  •  acronyms If you pronounce an abbreviation as a
    word (ASCII), its an acronym.
  •  body The body of the text is the narrative
    stuff that isnt in titles, headings, diagrams,
    tables, or boxes. It includes lists and examples.
  •  concept The topic of an entry. It does not
    necessarily use exactly the same word, words, or
    phrasing as the text. See also keywords.

  • cross-references
  • A See reference leads from a term not used as an
    index entry to the synonym or alternate term that
    is used (the target term). This could be a
    similar term, a reversed term, an expansion of an
    abbreviation, or a general or specific class.
  • A See also reference leads to related terms
    (information) under another heading (target
  • A missing entry is a cross-reference to a target
    term that doesnt exist. An absolute No-No.

  • double-posting A topic is entered in the index
    under various iterations of its keyword(s) or
    existing subentries are made into main entries
  • cocktail dress and dress, cocktail
  • casserole
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • elver
  • become, in addition
  • broccoli casserole
  • cabbage casserole
  • elver casserole

  • entry An entry is a topic plus a locator. There
    are levels of entries
  • a main entry is the primary (first-level) entry.
  • subentries are the secondary (tertiary, etc.)
    levels that fall under the main entry.

headings In the text, a heading is a word or
phrase (usually in a different type size and font
from the narrative text and set off with space
above and below it) that divides one part of the
narrative from another. In an index, heading is
a synonym for entry.
keywords Keywords are significant words that are
prime candidates for index entries. They differ
from topics in that every keyword has a topic,
but not every topic has a keyword. While a
concordance is a list of words, an index uses
words, but only insofar as they serve as concepts
(topics) and modifiers. Confused? Ignore this
definition entirely and think Keyword Entry.
locator A locator indicates where the concept is
to be found. It may be a page number (also called
a page reference), a tag/URL, or a compound of
section paragraph number or volume issue
page numbers.   topic The topic is the subject of
the main index entry.
What to index
  • Technical Publications
  • Acronyms
  • Alternate names and common synonyms (?)
  • Command names
  • Error conditions and messages
  • Examples (?)
  • Figures
  • Glossary terms
  • Introductory information (?)
  • Keyboard keys and shortcuts

What to index
ü Measurements ü Menu options ü Overviews (?) ü
Proper names ü Restrictions ü Screen selections ü
Special characters or symbols ü System messages ü
Tables ü Tasks ü Tools (?) maybe (it depends)
Indexing, step by step
As you follow the steps outlined below, always
keep in mind that you should index topics in the
same manner in which the reader/user will attempt
to find them. As Ament says Walk in the shoes
of your users. Look at the world from their
perspective. Speak their language. Localize your
index to the idiosyncrasies of your users.
Also, dont try to index the whole document at
once. Approach the document by chapter or section
and work through them one at a time, completing
each one as you go.  
Indexing, step by stepStep 1. IDENTIFY YOUR USERS
If youre the author of the document, you already
know its organization, orientation, and content,
and you are probably prepared to determine
suitable indexing topics. If youre not the
author, you need to determine who will be using
your index.
Indexing, step by stepStep 1. IDENTIFY YOUR USERS
If you can ask the author in person, because she
sits in the next cubicle, then ask her Who is
your audience? Programmers? Tech support?
Engineers? End-users? Students? If the document
has a preface or introduction, you can usually
glean clues from reading it.
Indexing, step by stepStep 1. IDENTIFY YOUR USERS
If youre not the author, this is also a good
time to glance through the text, noting its
organization and content, particularly headings,
boxed materials, bold-faced or italicized terms,
lists, glossaries or vocabulary terms, summaries,
or what youve accomplished-type lists.
Indexing, step by stepStep 2. INDEX THE CHAPTER
Analysis Is the chapter title descriptive
(narrative) or prescriptive (procedural)?
Descriptive titles answer the classic
who-what-where-when-why quintet. Prescriptive
titles answer the solo how.
Indexing, step by stepStep 2. INDEX THE CHAPTER
Method To create an index entry for a
descriptive title, choose the prominent answer(s)
to the quintet (e.g., mice, men, monkeys). To
create an entry for a procedure (task), choose a
term that describes the procedure (e.g.,
installing, exiting, scratching). For the
locator, enter the page or page range that covers
the topic (e.g., 3 or 3-10). Index all the
chapter titles at once, so that you get an
overview of the whole document.
Indexing, step by stepStep 3. INDEX TASKS
Analysis Tasks described in the main body of the
text are usually easy to locate. They are often
contained in headings, they indicate an action
(e.g., strangling your cat), and they contain
instructions. You can index the tasks in each
chapter as you work your way through it, or you
can create index entries for all the procedures
in the text at once. Dont forget tasks discussed
in appendices.
Indexing, step by stepStep 3. INDEX TASKS
Method Create an entry for the task. If the
discussion of the task is longer than one page,
use a page range for the locator.
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
Analysis Topics in the text also answer the
who-what-when-where-why quintet. They may be
contained in headings, they may be printed in
boldface or italic type, and they may be ideas in
words, phrases, paragraphs, examples, table
titles, table contents, diagrams, or glossaries.
Selecting topics is the most challenging part of
creating an index. Here are some hints for
analyzing topics
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
Names are usually topics (including product
names, peoples names, place names, and company
names) if they are discussed meaningfully, not
given as examples or mentioned in passing. (Ask
yourself If the user comes to this page, will he
learn anything substantial or relevant about
X?) Drugs have generic names and brand names.
They are usually entered under their generic name
(aspirin) with the brand name cross-referenced
back to the generic (Bayer. See aspirin).
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
NOTE If a person, product, company, or drug is
the primary topic of the whole document, you will
probably not enter it in the index! Thats
because the primary topic is understood to be the
context for all your index entries. Cross-referen
ce all trademarked names WinWord. See Microsoft
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
This is a good point for our discussion of
capitalization. Its important that you always
capitalize proper names, including product brand
names, in the index. Currently, the trend in
indexing is to leave all other terms lower-cased,
even when they are the main entry.
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
Definitions are easily identified as topics.
Definitions can occur in the body of the text or
in the glossary. Although sometimes the glossary
is not indexed, all definitions given in the body
of the text should be indexed, because
definitions are keys to understanding the
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
Acronyms and abbreviations are shortened forms of
names, words, or phrases. Familiar (common)
abbreviations usually can serve as main entries
because theyre more familiar to the user than
the terms they abbreviate (e.g., DNA, IBM, URL,
XML). Uncommon abbreviations or acronyms or those
that stand for more than one thing are usually
cross-referenced to their fully spelled-out form
(UMB. See University of Maryland at Baltimore
Untitled memory block).
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
Be consistent in your approach to abbreviations.
Most often, your procedure will be to use the
acronyms and abbreviations as the main entries
and to cross-reference their fully spelled-out
versions to the acronym/abbreviation as the
target (Extensible Markup Language. See XML).
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
Warnings, notes, error conditions and messages,
and system messages are fairly obvious topics.
For example if a printer manual says !WARNING
Spilling liquids on the printer will cause an
electrical hazard you should index that topic,
probably under both the term electrical hazard
and the category warnings, and maybe also under
safety. Can you think of another topic you
might also enter it under? (Not stupidity.)
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
Special characters and symbols present an
interesting challenge. They are clearly topics,
but where do they go in the index? At the top,
under their actual symbol (, use of, 20)? In
the text, under their spelled-out form
(trademark (), use of, 20)? Or both places?
Where would you look for them?
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
Command names, menus, screen selections, tools,
and keyboard keys and shortcuts are other obvious
topics. But dont make them into hierarchical
lists, because that puts a non-intuitive layer
between the user and the index entry. For
example, does the reader know that Edit is both
a command and a menu? A user interested in
editing should be given an indication of both
conditions in one stop.
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
Bad Good Commands Add command, 10 Add,
10 Document menu, 14 Edit, 15 Edit command,
15 Save, 20 Edit menu, 15 Menus Save
command, 20 Document, 14 Tools menu, 22 Edit,
15 Tools, 22
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
BUT you can nest commands as subentries under
their menu, because the user interested in
editing can browse the possibilities.
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
Edit menu, 248-256 Undo, 248 Cut, 248 Copy,
248 Paste, 248 Clear, 248 Select All, 248 New
Record, 249 Edit Record, 249 Duplicate,
249 Deleted, 249 Labeled, 250 Find,
250-252 Replace, 252-253, 252f New Group,
253 Save Group, 254 New Abbreviation,
254 Preferences, 254-256, 254f
In the CINDEX manual, the entry looks like
What order are these subentries in? What does f
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
  • Figures (diagrams) and tables usually state their
    topic clearly in their legend (caption) or title.
    Some indexers put f or t after the locator to
    indicate that the index entry is found in the
    figure or table, respectively.
  • Restrictions are not as easily identified as
    topics, but they are. Look for clues like rules,
    cautions, notes, or default values and options.
    In other words, things you can do or change, but
    with (possibly dire) consequences.

Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
An indexing manual, for example, might have the
entry   Sorting, 137-156 rules of, overriding,
149-156   The subentry here is a restriction, and
if you go to pages 149-156, youll find all the
consequences of overriding the sort rules.
Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS
  • Alternate names and common synonyms, examples,
    introductory information, and overviews may be
    topics, depending on your users. Remember, know
    your users and youll know whether theyll need
    to find these topics.

Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
Method Indexers call this casting entries. My
dictionarys definitions of cast
include 1.To throw, hurl. 2. To shed, molt.
9. To give birth to prematurely. 10. To cause
(hounds) to scatter and circle in search of lost
scent. These are nicely colorful versions of
what I do when I cast entries, but the accepted
definition is probably 13. To give form to
Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
You might think of it as the phrasing or syntax
of your index entries. There are myriads of rules
about casting entries, but heres a fast overview
Emphasize the major noun (or subject or keyword)
of the entry by putting it as close to the left
margin as possible. (Users scan the left margins
of indexes.) For example, a pet owners manual
says CAUTION Feeding corn to a snake can kill
it. Using feeding corn is not an effective
entry. The keyword is corn, so the entry should
be corn, feeding to snake.
Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
  • Make as many entries as necessary to help the
    user find the information. In our example above,
    we would also invert the entry to read snake,
    feeding corn to.

Later on, the pet owners manual also contains
the information that corn gives dogs a bellyache.
Not only does this sentence have two keywords,
corn and dog, but also it contains information
about corn that is of the same general class as
that given for snakes/corn.
Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
So, reanalysis of your snake entry in light of
your dog entry indicates that its not the
pouring of corn down the snakes throat (feeding)
thats the topic, its the adverse effects of
corn. So you edit your snake/corn and enter your
dog/corn and get corn adverse effects of
in dogs, 45 in snakes, 42 dogs
adverse effects of corn in, 45 snakes
adverse effects of corn in, 42
Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
By now youve noticed that index entries do not
necessarily use natural grammatical order.
Whereas the natural order is knitting sweaters
for penguins, the index order is sweaters, for
penguins, knitting, and penguins, sweaters for,
Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
  • A digression on the King of Catalogs, Charles
    Ammi Cutter
  • Cutter gave some (cataloging) guidelines that are
    also good guidelines for indexing/thesaurus
  • Use the most significant words.
  • Reduce adjective nouns to noun phrases.
  • Use singular rather than plural.
  • File compound words under the first word.

Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
  • Cutter described types of headings
  • Single word (Botany, Ethics)
  • Adjective-noun (Capital punishment)
  • Noun-noun (Death penalty)
  • Noun-preposition-noun (Penalty of death)
  • Noun-conjunction-noun (Nurses and nursing)

Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
In the corn/snake and corn/dog examples above,
the entries were also inverted, to make both
instances of the relationship corn/animal
available under both corn and the specific
animal. Another use of inversion is in tasks,
where both the task and its object are inverted
files, editing and editing, files.
Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
However, do not invert married terms. Married
terms are adjective-noun compounds like hot key
or hard space and noun-noun compounds like
quotation marks or disk space. Also, dont
use an adjective alone as a main entry. The
entries binary language, 14 operators,
11 should be entered as binary language,
14 binary operators, 11
Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
Beware of placing entries into false categories
(Bonura calls this factoring). If factored, the
potential entries pasture fencing and fencing
stolen goods (not likely to appear in the same
document, I admit) would come out fencing
of pastures of stolen goods
Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
Locators are usually separated from the last word
of the entry by a comma or extra space (or
sometimes by a colon). Multiple locators are
usually separated from each other by commas. If
the locator covers a range, say pages 46 to 48,
it is entered as 46-48, with a hyphen or a dash
indicating the range.
Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR
If the locators in a range already contain
hyphens (if they indicate a section and a
paragraph, for example) the word to is used to
indicate the range for example, 10-22 to 10-24,
not 10-2210-24 or, worse, 10-2224. If
discussion of a topic begins on page 3, is broken
by another topic, and then is resumed on page 4,
the locator could be either 3-4 or 3, 4 as
long as the indexer is consistent and always uses
the same format for instances of this type.
Indexing, step by stepStep 6. FORMATTING THE
Analysis Formatting is how the index is sorted
and displayed and what punctuation is used in
other words, what the index looks like.
Indexing, step by stepStep 6. FORMATTING THE
Method If the publisher of your document has
preferences (alphabetical sorting by word or by
letter, indented index or run-in paragraph
style, cross-references located at top or bottom
of entry), youll probably receive a style sheet
to follow. If nobody has any idea what to do,
pick an index you like and follow it.
Indexing, step by stepStep 6. FORMATTING THE
NOTE Until you get lots of indexing experience,
stay away from run-in indexes. Its much more
difficult to cast entries for run-in indexes, and
theyre best avoided if the index requires more
than one level of subentry.
Indexing, step by stepStep 6. FORMATTING THE
ANOTHER NOTE The best way to format an index is
to use dedicated indexing software!
Lets Practice
Heres a passage from an actual book. The shrew
is a ferocious and deadly little animal. If it
were any larger it is less than the size of a
mouse it would be one of the most feared
animals in the world. It has a narrow, tapering
snout close, dark, sooty-velvet fur and needle
teeth. A poison gland in its mouth sends venom
into its victim when it bites, and its prey dies
quickly. V. S. Eifert, Journeys in Green
Places What entries would you make?
Tools and Resources
Organizations and SIGs American Society of
Indexers   10200 West 44th Avenue, Suite 304 
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033  Voice 303-463-2887  
Fax 303-422-8894   Email info_at_asindexing.org  
ASI has several SIGs available to members.
Tools and Resources
STC has an active indexing SIG. SIG members
receive A to Z, the SIGs newsletter, which is
published three times a year, and they have a
listserv. SIG members can subscribe by sending
e-mail with the contents subscribe stcsig-1
your e-mail address to lyris_at_lists.stc.org.
Indexing Software
CINDEX Contact information Indexing
Research 100 Allens Creek Road Rochester, NY
14618 Voice 716-461-5530 Fax 716-442-3924
email flennie_at_indexres.com web
www.indexres.com   Demo version available as
Indexing Software
IXGen Contact information Web
http//home.pacifier.com/franks/index.html Excel
lently reviewed by Anne C. Barrett in the
September 2001 issue of A to Z.
Indexing Software
Macrex Contact information Macrex Support
Office, North America (Wise Bytes) P. O. Box
3051 Daly City, CA 650.756.0821
(voice) 877.INDEX01 (sales, toll-free) 650.292.230
2 (fax) Macrex_at_aol.com
Indexing Software
SKY Index Contact information SKY Software 350
Montgomery Circle Stephens City, VA
22655 Toll-free 800-776-0137 Local
540-869-6581 Email mailtokamm_at_sky-software.com w
eb www.sky-software.com   Demo version available
as download.
Indexing Software
Leverage Technologies (LevTech) supplies
training, installation, and support for CINDEX.
LevTech also supplies utilities for CINDEX that
validate index style and help prepare Web
indexes. Contact information Leverage
Technologies, Inc. 9519 Greystone
Parkway Cleveland, OH 44141-2939 Toll-free
888-838-1203 Local/fax 440-838-1203 e-mail
info_at_LevTechInc.com web www.LevTechinc.com
Kurt Ament, Indexing A Nuts-and-Bolts Guide for
Technical Writers (2001, William Andrew
Publishing, ISBN 0-8155-1481-6) 40 (Amazon or
the publisher).
Larry Bonura, The Art of Indexing (1994, John
Wiley Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-01449-4) 39.99 on
Linda K. Fetters, Handbook of Indexing
Techniques A Guide for Beginning Indexers (1999,
publisher and ISBN unknown to MC), 20 on Amazon.
William Meisheid, Successful Indexing With
RoboHELP HTML Edition (2001, Sageline Publishing,
ISBN 0-9672570-4-2) and Teach Yourself Indexing
for RoboHELP Classic (2000, Sageline Publishing,
ISBN 0-9672570-3-4), 55 each. Sageline
Publishings contact information Sageline
Publishing Bootstrap Books 502 Oella Avenue,
Ellicott City, MD 21043 Voice 410-465-5501 Fax
410-465-5502 web www.sageline.com
Nancy C. Mulvany, Indexing Books (1994, The
University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-55014-1),
32, but 22.40 on Amazon
The American Society of Indexers offers several
publications on indexing through Information
Today, Inc. Descriptions of the publications are
available on the ASI website or from Information
Today (http//www.infotoday.com).
Indexing Listservs
The STC indexing SIG has its own listserv (see
above, under SIGs).   To subscribe to Index-L, a
general indexing chat list, send e-mail with the
contents subscribe INDEX-L your name to
lyris_at_listserv.unc.edu. IndexPeers Indexers
volunteer to review each other's edited indexes.
To subscribe, go to groups.yahoo.com/group/IndexPe
ers. To contact the
listowner, email index_at_teleport.com.
Mini-break here. Stand up. Stretch. Etc.
Reconvene in 5 minutes
Two Practicums
Editing more philosophy
Coughlins mini-theology of index editing
The four deadly sins of editing
Coughlins epistemology of editing
Editing is the imposition of explicit form on
the implicit architecture of the index.
The implicit architecture is inferred. People are
pattern-makers. What isnt explicit will be
For example Nearness implies a relationship.
Some Editing Conundrums
Time management
When does editing begin?
How do you know when you are done editing?
How do you preserve the same alertness and focus
throughout the whole index?
Editing begins before you type anything!
  • Look over the entire text.
  • Read the Preface and Introduction.
  • Look at the Contents.
  • You should begin to form an idea of the
    user/reader/audience and the scope of the subject

If you need to, find other works in the same
subject area and study their indexes.
(Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the local library are
all great resources.)
Make sure you have asked the client about
any special requirements, like length
restrictions, use of special fonts (e.g.,
boldface for major discussions), or t and f, etc.
See Intake Sheet sample in your handout.
How do you know youre done editing?
The Deadline Is Here!
Always edit the index!
  • Editing always requires
  • Spell check
  • Verifying cross-references
  • Making double-posts consistent

Spell-check everything!
Verify see references to make sure they refer
directly to an existing entry that is followed by
page references and/or subentries. Do not use
circular cross-references.
Verify that the terms in cross-references are
identical to the entry to which they refer.
If you have double-posted, make sure that each
posting has the same page references. Make sure
that each posting has the same subentries.
Editing may require
  • Creating or deleting entries
  • Splitting or combining entries
  • Regrouping or rewording entries
  • Ensuring consistency of terminology
  • Adding new cross-references
  • Adjusting the length of the index
  • Formatting the index

Creating and Deleting Entries
  • Check subentries to determine if they should also
    appear as main entries.
  • Check the number of page references following an
    entry. If there are more than 4 (5, 7), consider
    creating more specific subentries.
  • Make sure that cross-references are needed if
    there are only a few page references involved,
    add them to the cross-referred term and delete
    the cross-reference.

Creating and Deleting Entries
Check that there is at least one entry for each
table, figure, map, or graph, and indicate the
text element if the publisher requires it. (That
is, 123t means a table on page 123, and 124f or
124 means a figure on page 124.)
Simplify long or elaborate subentries.
Splitting/Combining Entries
Check subentries for slight variations in
wording if they are intentional, leave them if
the subentries can be combined, combine them. For
example, entries under Heart and Cardiac should
be combined.
Eliminate duplications caused by differences in
Splitting/Combining Entries
Combine subentries in an entry that appears
over-analyzed. (Over-analyzed means there are
many subentries with the same page locator or
many subentries in a brief page range.)
Regrouping or Rewording
Youve indexed this passage in the text Two
kinds of geckoes live in these highlands. On the
tree trunks lives the Leaf-tailed Gecko. In
day-time he is a mere mottled green smudge as he
lies flattened against a giant tree trunk and is
almost invisible. His fringed sides and broad
tail do not even cast a tell-tale shadow and his
huge lidless eyes are a maze of green and black
squiggles which also match his surroundings. No
bird or other predator has sight keen enough to
detect him. As long as he does not move he is
safe. S. and K. Breeden, Wildlife of Eastern
Regrouping or Rewording
Your entries are Gecko arboreal, 302
Leaf-tailed, 302 coloration, 302 habitat, 302
Regrouping or Rewording
Later, the same book had this passage Chipmunks,
however, are smaller, less plump and have
stripes along the sides of their heads, which the
ground squirrel lacks. The stripes down the
backs of both the golden-mantled ground squirrel
and the chipmunks serve to camouflage the animals
from their numerous predators, blending with the
irregular textures and broken patterns of light
characteristic of the forest floor. S. Whitney,
A Sierra Club Naturalists Guide to the Western
Sierra Nevada
Regrouping or Rewording
In this case you made the entries Camouflage,
314 Chipmunk coloration, 314 habitat,
314 Ground squirrel coloration, 314
habitat, 314 Modifiers, dangling, 314
Regrouping or Rewording
Your combined entries are (sorry,
chipmunks) Camouflage, 314 Gecko arboreal,
302 Leaf-tailed, 302 coloration,
302 habitat, 302 Ground squirrel
coloration, 314 habitat, 314 Modifiers,
dangling, 314 How would you edit this part of
the index?
An interlude
Heres another passage in the same book There is
almost no way to explain a takin. Part this, part
that, it looks as if it humbly adopted all the
attributes that other goats and antelopes
refused. Ponderous and unwieldy, its heavy body
sits on fat, stubby legs, and is covered with a
dingy, drab coat. Its horns look like a cross
between those of the gnu and the musk ox, and its
face seems to have suffered a terrible accident,
while the expression of its droopy lips makes one
think it has been sucking a mixture of lemon and
garlic. E. J. Cronin, Jr., The Arun What
entries would you make?
Consistent Terminology
You have the entry Bats herbivorous,
32-45 plant-eating, 44-45 vegetarian,
How do you make your terminology consistent?
New Cross-references
Say you have the entry Ecdysis, 111-14.
But you also have the entries Insects skin,
shedding of, 112 Snakes molting,
74-75 Striptease artists, 33-34
You might want to add the cross-reference
Ecdysis. See also Snakes Striptease artists
Adjusting the Length
This almost always means cutting (decreasing) the
length of the index.
Adjusting the Length
But, just in case they want you to increase the
indexs length, remark happily that many
members of your family want to be famous with
someone other than law enforcement, so youll
add their names to the index!
Seriously, my usual response is that in my
professional judgment, the text is well-served
by the index I created. Period.
Shortening the Index
  • Check with the editor
  • How much needs to be cut?
  • Beg for more pages!
  • Can they use smaller type? Less space between
    groups? Use run-in style?
  • Can you elide page numbers?

Shortening the Index
  • Eliminate sub-subentries?
  • Use see references instead of double-posting.
  • Take out acronyms and supply acronym only after
    its spell-out.
  • Delete CMV. See Cytomegalovirus
  • Edit Cytomegalovirus, 4-8
  • to read Cytomegalovirus (CMV), 4-8

Shortening the Index
  • Take out trade names of drugs, and supply trade
    name only after the generic name.
  • Delete Valium. See Diazepam
  • Edit Diazepam, 103-8
  • to read Diazepam (Valium), 103-8
  • Eliminate all subentries that have only one page
  • Rephrase (shorten) where possible.

Shortening the Index
  • Leave out the letter L
  • Remember Verify cross-references again!

Some Indexing Hygiene
Check the reasonableness of page references (no
1222 in a book that has only 400 pages no
illegal page ranges, such as 194-94 or 195-94,
which can be forbidden in a CINDEX menu). CINDEX
allows me to do this automatically, by searching
on a pattern, 0-90-90-90-9 and then
4-90-91-9 in the page field.
Some Indexing Hygiene
Check for the pesky m that sneaks into page
locator citations. The m key on the keyboard is
the left-hand neighbor of the , (comma) key, and
its easy to have an m creep into a commas
place. The CINDEX pattern I search on is 0-9m
in the page field.
More Indexing Hygiene
Have a system for eliminating typos that will get
by your spell-checker. Its easy to type if not
of. Its also very easy to type od or og, not of,
so I have abbreviations (od and og) that spell
out as of. I also have an abbreviation brian that
spells out brain.
More Indexing Hygiene
Check that fonts and typefaces used in the text
are also applied in the index. For example,
italicize the scientific (genus and species)
names for bacteria, fungi, protozoa, parasites,
animals, and plants. (Staphylococcus aureus, and
Staphylococcus spp., but staphylococci.) Do not
italicize the names of viruses!
Index format includes
  • Symbols and special characters (coding for and
    sorting of)
  • Sort order (alphabetizing by letter or by word,
    placement of symbols at top of index?)
  • Placement of see and see also entries
  • Punctuation
  • Indented style (if so, em spaces or tabs for
    indent?) or
  • Run-in style
  • Special formats (e.g., SGML? HTML? PDF? RTF?
    Publishers may have special requirements.)

Index format Symbols
Symbols and special characters (coding for and
sorting of)
Use small caps for dextro and levo configurations
of carbohydrates and amino acids D and L,
respectively. Do not sort on D or L. L-Tryptophan
and L-Dopa alphabetize under T and D,
Index format Symbols
Symbols and special characters (coding for and
sorting of)
Other special characters that may be ignored are
Greek letters and chemical prefixes (including
lower-case italic letters and numerals).
However, when Greek letters are spelled out,
theyre alphabetized.
Index format Symbols
Decide how youll index symbols and be consistent!
Index format Sorting
Did you use the correct alphabetic sort? (Word by
word or Letter by letter.)
Did you sort on leading prepositions, articles,
and conjunctions, or, if the publisher prefers,
did you ignore them?
Does the client want special characters and
symbols sorted before the alphabetic sort?
Index format Cross-references
Clients have different requirements for the
placement of See and See also.
Directly after the main entry Ruminants,
401-534. See also specific ruminant
Index format Cross-references
Clients have different requirements for the
placement of See and See also.
After the last subentry Ruminants, 401-534.
diet of, 403 habitats of, 404-500 life
cycle of, 500-534 tooth morphology in,
401-403 See also specific ruminant
Index format Cross-references
Clients also have different requirements for the
punctuation of cross-references
As I showed already, preceded by a
period. Ruminants, 401-534. See also specific
Index format Cross-references
Clients also have different requirements for the
punctuation of cross-references
Or in parentheses Ruminants, 401-534 (See
also specific ruminant) Or lower-cased (see
also), or in regular type (see also specific
ruminant), etc.
Index format Style
Did you use the correct style (run-in or
As I showed already, indented is Ruminants,
401-534. See also specific ruminant diet
of, 403 habitats of, 404-500
Index format Style
Did you use the correct style (run-in or
Run-in style is Ruminants, 401-534 diet of,
403 habitats of, 404-500 life cycle of,
500-534. See also specific ruminant
Index format Electronic format
The electronic format of the index is the format
used for the disk file of the index. Different
clients have different preferences for electronic
format (HTML, SGML, XML, RTF, etc.). Be sure to
ask! Some clients also want tabs, not spaces, to
mark the level of indention. Again, be sure to
Breaking the rules
The Index to Recipes and Remedies from The Cure
for Death by Lightning, by Gail Anderson-Dargatz
Theres a copy of this index in your handouts.
What rules does this index break? Why is it still
a good index?
Breaking the rules
The index to Bumblebee Economics, by Berndt
Heinrich Theres a copy of this index in your
handouts. Whats different about this index?
Why does it work?
Specialized Editing
  • Editing another indexers work
  • Editing an index the author revised
  • Editing large indexes
  • Editing cumulated indexes

Editing another indexers work
  • First, scan the whole index.
  • Is it easy to read? Do the entries flow, or do
    you have to re-read them to make sense of them?
  • Are the important topics in the content
  • Are the indexed terms appropriate for the
    intended readers/users?

Editing another indexers work
  • Is there a note explaining any special features
    of the index?
  • Are prepositions used consistently?
  • Is the level of detail consistent?
  • Is the length of the index appropriate?
  • Is the wording clear and succinct?
  • Did the indexer use specialized terminology

Editing another indexers work
You must
  • Make a checklist of issues raised in your
    preliminary scan of the index and then solve them
  • Check that existing double-posts are exactly the
  • Check spelling.
  • Check whether cross-references have been provided
    and verify them.

Editing another indexers work
  • You may need to
  • Add a note explaining any special features of the
  • Spot-check the accuracy of locators.
  • Rewrite entries to emphasize the keyword.

Editing another indexers work
  • You may need to
  • Create subentries when a main entry has too many
  • Add cross-references.
  • Add double-posts.
  • Check indexing hygiene.

Editing another indexers work
What if the index is really bad?
Editing another indexers work
In INDEXES Writing, Editing, Production by
Virginia S. Thatcher (1995, Scarecrow Press,
Inc., available on Amazon), the author says, An
index that is to be salvaged should be given
first aid, not major surgery.
Editing another indexers work
Worst-case scenario You may have to rework the
electronic file of the index. First, split it
into individual entries in page-number order.
Then compare the entries to the page proof, while
adding, deleting, or rewording entries as
Editing another indexers work
Finally, you should always spell-check the index
and verify cross-references one last time after
youve finished the editing. This will eliminate
any errors you may have introduced.
Editing the authors revisions
Thatcher warns, the authors changes may
introduce serious defects in the index pattern
blind cross-references, inconsistent terminology
changes, and pattern alterations that throw the
index out of balance. (p. 38)
Editing the authors revisions
Thatcher prescribes that, Every change made by
an author should be verified by comparing it with
the text. Indeed! And, of course, the last step
is to verify the cross-references, to eliminate
errors introduced by an author.
Editing large indexes
The problems in editing large indexes compiled by
a single indexer (ideally, yourself) are mostly
problems of scale. The tasks are magnified, but
theyre basically the same as the general editing
tasks already reviewed.
Editing large indexes
The problems in editing large indexes compiled by
a team of indexers (where each of several
indexers has indexed a different part of the
text) are problems of consistency.
Editing large indexes
The editor of a multi-indexer index aims at
achieving an internal consistency in the index,
ideally in keeping with indexing guidelines that
were determined before indexing commenced and
that were supplied to each indexer on the team.
Editing large indexes
  • The editor needs to pay particular attention to
  • combining and cross-referencing entries for
    synonymous (or alternate) terms
  • consistent use of prepositions and conjunctions
  • consistency in the grammatical form of entries

Editing large indexes
  • Consistency in the grammatical form of entries
  • Nouns vs. gerunds (e.g., Profiling offenders vs.
    Profiles, of offenders)
  • Internal references (Slubberdegullion, defined,
    vs. Slubberdegullion, definition of)

Editing large indexes
  • Consistency in the grammatical form of entries
  • Phrases vs. single words with modifier (e.g.,
    Consistent entries vs. Consistency, of entries)

Editing large indexes
  • Consistency in the grammatical form of entries
    also includes
  • Use of singular vs. plural vs. (s) terms
    (Jar-owl vs. Jar-owls vs. Jar-owl(s)). Ideally,
    a policy on regular plurals was given in the
    guidelines, but the editor has to be on the alert
    for irregulars (gumma vs. gummata or operculum
    vs. operculi, etc.).

Cumulated indexes
  • Cumulated indexes are the combination of at least
    two, but often several, existing indexes (from
    different years, volumes, issues) into one index.
  • Cumulated indexes often present the biggest of
    all editing challenges.

Cumulated indexes
First, youll need to have all the indexes that
are going to be combined available to you in an
electronic format you can use in your indexing
Cumulated indexes
You may need to have print indexes scanned,
typesetting files converted, some or all indexes
re-keyed, or electronic index files sent from
another indexer or the publisher. (Check all
disks for viruses!)
Cumulated indexes
Be sure to ascertain whether the locators in the
cumulated index need volume and/or issue numbers
Fortunately, adding volume and issue numbers is
an automatic function in dedicated indexing
software, and you can prepare each index file
before its merged into the cumulated index.
Cumulated indexes
Once you have all the files in a form useful to
your indexing software, with volume and/or issue
numbers added to the locators if needed, choose
one file as your main index.
Import the other files into your main index one
at a time.
Cumulated indexes
Each time you import an index, label all its
entries in a color different from the color used
in the main index, and then scan the entire
conjoined index.
As you scan the index, note the kinds of problems
and inconsistencies the conjoined index presents.
Keep a checklist!
Cumulated indexes
Ideally, youll have the original text to refer
to when solving these problems.
Cumulated indexes
For example, your cumulated file shows two
adjacent entries, Mather, C. M., I32-33, and
Mather, Cotton, IV45-48. To clarify whether
theyre the same individual, youll need to
consult the original text.
Cumulated indexes
Youll need to be on the look-out for imbalanced
entries. For example, if youre cumulating
indexes from a series of books on small animal
care, you may be faced with an entry that
reads Cages, 45-47, 75-77, 95-97, 135-137
Cumulated indexes
This entry Cages, 45-47, 75-77, 95-97,
135-137 is the composite of entries from the
books on birds, mice, gerbils, and rabbits,
respectively. In the original books, an
unmodified entry for cages made sense, but the
cumulated index needs modifiers.
Cumulated indexes
Youll need to change the entry to Cages
for birds, 45-47 for gerbils, 95-97 for
mice, 75-77 for rabbits, 135-137
Cumulated indexes
Youll also need to double-post the entries
Birds cages for, 45-47 Gerbils cages
for, 95-97 Mice cages for, 75-77 Rabbits
cages for, 135-137
Cumulated indexes
This process will need to be repeated throughout
the cumulated index, in order to account for the
expanded information domain.
Cumulated indexes
The cumulated index will also present
inconsistencies in spelling, phrasing,
terminology, double-posting, and
Cumulated indexes
Have a system for attacking these problems.
Generally, my system is 1. Review each new index
as its imported into the main index. 2. List
types of problems noted. 3. Verify
cross-references and print out list of missing,
circular, or illegal cross-references.
Cumulated indexes
4. Generate and print an authority file (a file
consisting of just main entries and
cross-references). 5. Scan the authority file and
solve obvious problems (e.g., singular vs.
plural). This should eliminate some of the
cross-reference problems. Cross them off the
Cumulated indexes
6. Pick the letter with the most entries and edit
it from start to finish. (The worst is over
now!) 7. Edit the index from beginning to end. 8.
Spell-check. 9. Verify again.
Thank you
Questions? My e-mail address is mariac_at_indexing.c
om This presentation will be available on our
website, http//indexing.com, after November 1 as
Write a Comment
User Comments (0)
About PowerShow.com