A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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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


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


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


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


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


Indexing Technical Documents

If a document contains the information that a reader needs, but if the reader cannot find that information, then the document is useless. Worse than useless, it’s a hindrance. If I know that some information is not available, I won’t waste my time looking for it. However, if I think the information is available, and if I can’t find it after a period of fruitless searching, all I will have achieved is frustration.

Unwalla, Mike. TechScribe (2004). Articles>Indexing>Technical Editing


Indexing Technical Documents: An Interview with Lori Lathrop

Indexes are as important to your documentation as your documentation is to the product. Just as it would be difficult, if not impossible, for people to use your product without any documentation, it is equally difficult for people to use documentation without a good index.

Vega, Barbara. Writing World (2001). Articles>Indexing>Technical Editing


The Role of Indexing in Technical Communication

The success of a technical document depends heavily on the index. The task of indexing a technical document often cannot begin until insufficient time remains to do a good job. However, for many users of the document, a good index is mandatory to its usability.

Northrop, Mary Jane. Boston Broadside (1993). Articles>Editing>Indexing


'See also' Cross-References

'See also' cross-references assist the user to quickly navigate to the right index term. The same principles that apply to 'See also' cross-references apply equally to hypertext linking. 'See also' cross-references are constructed using the following relationships: a broader term to a narrower term, e.g. 'mammals, See also whales'; sailing craft, See also hulls overlapping meaning between two terms, e.g. 'gold, See also money'

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


Tackling the Massive Index

I recently started a new contract with a software company here in Toronto. One of the tasks assigned to me was to index a very large document. No, make that a very large document. It weighs in at 1,300+ pages. I kid you not. And while I’m not a great indexer (it would be a stretch to call me a good one), I can get the job done. But I’ve never tackled a document this size before.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2011). Articles>Editing>Indexing>Technical Editing

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