A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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A-Z Indexes to Enhance Site Searching

On a Web site or intranet each of the alphabetically arranged entries or subentries is hyperlinked to the page or to an anchor within a page to where the topic is discussed. Since an alphabetical index can be quite long, it is often divided into pages for each letter of the alphabet. Typically, each letter is linked at the top of the page allow a jump to the start of that letter’s section of the index.

Digital Web Magazine (2005). Articles>Web Design>Indexing>Information Design


Alphabetizing an Index

It is important to alphabetize your index in a consistent manner. Otherwise, your readers may become confused or miss an important entry. There are two basic ways to alphabetize, or sort, an index: word by word; letter by letter.

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (2001). Articles>Indexing>Editing


The Art of Indexing and Some Fallacies of its Automation

The phrase 'information storage and retrieval,' coined in the fifties - when computers were first harnessed to the twin tasks of recording verbal communication and finding it again on demand - is somewhat misleading and it is also missing a vital element. The misleading part is that many people seem to believe that these tasks can only be performed by machines. Yet information has been stored on stone tablets, papyrus rolls and in books for thousands of years and it has also been found when needed. The missing part is that, in order for stored information to be retrievable - whether manually or by machine - an intermediate operation is of crucial importance: the stored information must be indexed.

Wellisch, Hans H. CPD (1992). Articles>Indexing>Information Design


Automating Your Word Indexes   (PDF)

Have you ever tried to create an index in Word? Were you dissatisfied with the options available in the dialogs? There are other features available that can provide you with a higher level of control over the structure of the index. This article gives you an overview of advanced indexing techniques; see Word’s online help for details. The menu sequences are for Word 2000; there are slight differences in Word 2002.

Unwalla, Mike. TechScribe (2003). Articles>Indexing>Software>Microsoft Word


Cataloging Information Aids Help Development

Context-sensitive help systems often need redundant placement of information. This ensures that the information is seen by visitors who enter and move unpredictably through the system. Redundant placements take the form of descriptions, explanations, warnings, and the like that amplify other subjects. In software documentation, for example, some candidate subjects include the purposes of screens and tabs, the effects of selected options and significant functions such as Delete, and reminders of required access permissions and prerequisite steps or conditions. You can save development time and promote consistency by cataloging information so that it can be inserted wherever needed using your authoring software's copy and paste functions.

Barten, Alfred. Boston Broadside (2001). Articles>Documentation>Indexing


Checking Cross-References

Before publishing your index, you need to ensure that the 'See' and 'See also' cross-references work correctly. The text in each cross-reference must exactly match the text in the index heading it refers to.

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (2002). Articles>Indexing>Editing


Complexity In Indexing Systems -- Abandonment And Failure: Implications For Organizing The Internet

The past hundred years have seen the development of numerous systems for the structured representation of knowledge and information, including hierarchical classification systems with notation as well as alphabetical indexing systems with sophisticated features for the representation of term relationships. The reasons for the lack of widespread adoption of these systems, particularly in the United States, are discussed. The suggested structure for indexing the Internet or other large electronic collections of documents is based on that of book indexes: specific headings with coined modifications.

Weinberg, Bella Hass. ASIST (1996). Articles>Indexing>Information Design


Consideration in Indexing Online Documents

Printed indexes were the precursors to hypertext links. If you have good indexing skills, you can apply those skills to writing indexes for either printed books or online documents. Although locator systems are different in electronic media than in printed books, the basic principles of indexing apply to both online documents and back-of-the-book (b-o-b) indexes. Most online indexes look very much like b-o-b indexes; however, because online information is not linear, the biggest difference is that hypertext links in online documents serve the same purpose as See and See also cross-references in b-o-b indexes. Another difference is that most indexes for online documents use just one or, at the most, two levels of index entries--that is, main headings and subentries, but no sub-subentries.

Lathrop, Lori M. Boulder Writers Alliance (1996). Articles>Indexing>Online


Converting Indexes with WebWorks Publisher

While WebWorks Publisher (WWP) 7.0 can convert FrameMaker indexes into different online formats, getting things to work initially can be a bit of a challenge. Page ranges in index entries result in hyperlinks to both the starting and ending locations. Index hyperlinks don’t always link to the top of a help topic, but often to somewhere in the middle. For Simple HTML and Dynamic HTML, “See” and “See also” references can fail to convert altogether. However, if you do get stuck, Customer Support can help pull you through.

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (2002). Articles>Indexing>Software>Adobe FrameMaker


Creating an Index in Microsoft Word

For technical writers, a well-crafted index helps organise the writing process, in particular, when you get to the production stage.

Klariti. Articles>Indexing>Software>Microsoft Word


Creating Coloured Hyperlinks in an Index in a PDF File

This article explains how to create coloured hyperlinks in an index in a PDF file, using Microsoft Word as the source document for the PDF file. Many authors create PDF files using Word as the source document. Most Word-to-PDF converters create a hyperlink in the PDF file if a hyperlink exists in the Word document. Unfortunately, Word does not create hyperlinked cross-references in an index, so no PDF creation tool can directly generate a hyperlinked index. The Sonar Bookends Activate plug-in for Acrobat creates hyperlinks for page numbers in indexes in PDF files. The plug-in does not change the colour of new hyperlinks, and it does not create visible rectangles for the hyperlinks. This article explains how to colour the hyperlinks in the Word source document using macro.

Unwalla, Mike. TechScribe (2006). Articles>Indexing>User Interface>Adobe Acrobat


DocBook (SGML/XML)

The DocBook document type definition (DTD) was developed during the 1990s to provide an application independent method for creating computer documentation. Versions of the DocBook DTD have been created for both SGML and XML. You can create an embedded index in DocBook using index elements.

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (2001). Articles>Indexing>XML>DocBook


Editing Indexes

Like any well-written document, an index needs to be edited. Editing ensures consistency, clarity, completeness and accuracy. And an effective index contributes substantially to the usability of a document.

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (1999). Articles>Indexing>Editing


Embedded Indexing in FrameMaker    (PDF)

Embedded indexing is the process of creating index entries electronically in a document’s files. Although desktop publishing packages are not the best tools for indexing, they can be used to create effective embedded indexes. For technical documents that will be updated frequently or will go online, technical communicators can create embedded indexes that will help their audience find information quickly and efficiently.

Mauer, Peg. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>Document Design>Indexing>Adobe FrameMaker


Embedded vs. Stand-alone Indexes

Selecting the right type of index can save you both time and money. You create an embedded index by entering index markers directly into your document. You then generate the index from the embedded markers. With a stand-alone index, you create the index as a separate text file using dedicated indexing software. Embedded indexes are used commonly for software documentation while stand-alone indexes are used extensively in book publishing.

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (2001). Articles>Indexing


Embedding Indexes in FrameMaker

FrameMaker provides you with the ability to enter individual index headings using index markers. Once entered, you can automatically generate the index with the correct page numbers.

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (2002). Articles>Indexing>Software>Adobe FrameMaker


Evaluating Index Usability   (PDF)

Usability is like beauty. It is in the eye of the beholder. In other words, much of it is purely subjective. For example, what seems useful to you today might not seem as useful to you tomorrow or next week or next month. With those thoughts in mind, I designed a usability test questionnaire for one of my corporate clients. Since then, I have used the questionnaire in consulting with other corporate clients to help them evaluate their existing indexes. Also, I have made it available on my Web site – http://www.indexingskills.com/usabhtml.html - and I have given several other corporations and publishers permission to use it.

Lathrop, Lori M. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Indexing>Usability


Extended Faceted Taxonomies for Web Catalogs

Which would be easier to remember: one thousand individual terms or three facets of ten terms each?

Tzitzikas, Yannis, Nicolas Spyratos, Panos Constantopoulos and Anastasia Analyti. ERCIM News (2002). Articles>Web Design>Indexing>Metadata


Finding Information in Different Ways

People think about questions or information in different ways. It’s important for an index to provide multiple ways of locating any given piece of information.

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (2003). Articles>Indexing>Editing


Formatting Indexes

Formatting your index attractively can improve readability and help your audience to locate information quickly. The following tips apply to printed indexes.

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (2000). Articles>Indexing>Information Design


The Future of Indexing?

A recent article in the Society for Technical Communications' Intercom magazine proclaimed that indexing is on the rise (Seth Maislin, "The Indexing Revival," February, 2005), and that there is a renaissance of work in the field. But at the WritersUA March Conference, Microsoft's Longhorn features session declared that Longhorn's Help system will not contain an index, because "no one uses it." Then, to add to the discussion, at that same conference Apple revealed that their next help engine will include synonym rings and will add a form of indexing back into their display. Who's right? Who's correctly predicting the trends?

Wright, Jan C. WritersUA (2004). Articles>Indexing


Gathering Together

An index pulls together all the references to a topic that are scattered within a publication. If a reference is omitted, the user may assume that particular sub-topic is not discussed.

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (2002). Articles>Indexing>Editing


Good Online Indexing: It Doesn't Happen Automatically   (PDF)

Indexing online information is a key skill for online information developers, yet not much information exists on how to do it right. After defining online indexing and briefly presenting the research the authors were involved in, the article provides all the key ingredients for creating a good, searchbased online index.

Berry, Robert R., Ralph Earle and Michelle Corbin Nichols. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Indexing>Online


Great Indexes

The American Society of Indexers identifies criteria for measuring a great index. An index is not an inverted table of contents, nor is it a simple listing of where certain terms appear in a document. An index consists of a 'compiled list of topics covered in the work, prepared with the reader’s needs in mind.'

Brown, Fred. Allegro Time! (2001). Articles>Indexing>Assessment



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