A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Reference Sources on the Internet

These are resources that professional indexers may find useful in their daily work. Please visit Yahoo's resources if you are looking for beginner's guides to the Internet, or visit the Internet Public Library for more general reference sources. If you want only thesauri, narrow your search by looking at ASI's list of online thesauri.

American Society of Indexers. Resources>Directories>Indexing


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


Single Source Indexes

Many publishers of technical material are now publishing in more than one format, e.g. print, Adobe Acrobat (PDF), HTML, HTML Help and XML. Typically, a master document is first created in a package such as Adobe FrameMaker or Microsoft Word. The master document is then converted into different formats for publishing. Indexes are often the Achilles heel of such a process, because indexes can rarely be converted like regular material. Indexes usually have to be regenerated or recreated within the new format rather than simply converted from an existing file.

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


So How Fast do you Want this Index?   (PDF)

Scheduling adequate time for index preparation is difficult. We will present strategies to help you provide the best index your document deserves.

Coughlin, Maria, Frances Lennie, Peg Mauer and Alexandra Nickerson. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>Indexing


Software Tools For Indexing

The software tools used to generate indexes come in many flavors and varieties. Which technique is used depends on variables such as budget, eventual re-usability of the source material, time constraints, media used to publish the material, file sizes and transferral issues, and individual preferences. There are essentially six different methodologies for indexing.

American Society of Indexers (2003). Articles>Indexing>Software


STC Indexing Special Interest Group

The Indexing SIG will enhance members' analytical skills, promote quality and usability concepts, encourage retrievability techniques that increase customer satisfaction, and promote communication between STC members and the indexing community. The Indexing SIG will also give STC members access to information and resources that help them improve their indexing skills and the usability of their documentation products.

STC. Organizations>Editing>Indexing



Subheadings enable your readers to find detailed information quickly. They also give the reader an idea of how deeply a topic is covered. Subheadings provide more detail about the topic stated in the main entry. Effective subheadings represent distinct aspects of a topic.

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


Synonym Rings and Authority Files

In part 3 of the continuing series on controlled vocabularies and faceted classification, the authors explain synonym rings and authority files and how their use can bridge the gap between natural language and complex controlled vocabularies (taxonomies and thesauri).

Fast, Karl, Fred Leise and Mike Steckel. Boxes and Arrows (2003). Articles>Information Design>Indexing>Language



Including synonyms can be one of the most effective ways to improve the usability of an index. Synonyms assist users to navigate easily to the information they are looking for using their own terminology. In an index you use the terms that appear in the text of the document. But, the user may employ different words for the same concepts. This situation can happen when a user is familiar with another environment, for example when an experienced Microsoft Windows user is learning about Linux. The user may also be familiar with common terms while the document may use scientific or other official terminology. Different industries, organizations or product groups can also develop their own specialized vocabularies.

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


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


Ten Common Mistakes in Indexing   (PDF)

Ten common mistakes when indexing technical documents.

Hall, Heather. STC Indexing SIG (2002). Articles>Indexing


Ten Taxonomy Myths

Taxonomies have recently emerged from the quiet backwaters of biology, book indexing, and library science into the corporate limelight. They are supposed to be the silver bullets that will help users find the needle in the intranet haystack, reduce 'friction' in electronic commerce, facilitate scientific research, and promote global collaboration. But before this can happen, practitioners need to dispel the myths and confusion, created in part by the multi-disciplinary nature of the task and the hype surrounding content management technologies.

Montague Institute Review (1992). Articles>Indexing>Information Design


Value of Indexing

Recently on INDEX-L, the indexer’s listserv, there was a thread on quotes about the value of indexing. See the article for some select examples.

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


Visual Indexes for Visual Products   (PDF)

Many people prefer to use indexes to find the information they are looking for. As software products become more visual, so too can their indexes. Visual indexes allow users to find information about something without having to know what it’s called. And by organizing information in visual indexes by time, location, continuum or magnitude, or category, you can reveal aspects of a subject that might not otherwise be revealed. Visual indexes can be included in print and online.

Dukay, Kristin L. and Charles Tyrone. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Indexing>Visual


Web Indexing Tools   (PDF)

It wasn't too long ago that the concept of creating an index for hypertext documents was completely foreign. However, many webmasters, corporations, and new media publishers are seeing the clear benefits of using human indexers to design and write indexes to their Web sites and intranets, hoping for superior results in information access and retrieval. Technical writers may also be called on to provide indexing for Web sites.

Broccoli, Ken. STC Indexing SIG (1999). Articles>Web Design>Indexing


Web Indexing: Extending the Functionality of HTML Indexer

HTML Indexer is a commercial stand-alone indexing tool that is designed solely for the indexing of web sites. This article shows how to extend the functionality of HTML Indexer by including special codes in the entries, then post-processing the generated HTML to obtain final HTML.

Unwalla, Mike. TechScribe (2006). Articles>Web Design>Indexing>Software


Review: Website Indexing: Enhancing Access to Information Within Websites   (members only)

Browne and Jermey say that 'increasingly sophisticated retrieval methods' will be needed as the Web gets more complex. They believe that good, back-of-the-book-style indexes 'are effective tools for improving the speed and accuracy of user searches.' With their book as a guide, you are in a position to determine that for yourself and for your Web site.

Hudak-David, Ginny. Technical Communication Online (2004). Articles>Reviews>Indexing>Web Design


When the ToC Spins Out of Control

Early this year, I wrote the install guide for an enterprise-level reporting application. The application itself is pretty easy to use - once it's installed properly - with intuitive UI elements etc. It's the installation that's a bit complicated.

Writing Technically (2009). Articles>Document Design>Indexing


Why an Index?

What indexes can do for you and your end-users.

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


Why Create an Index?

To understand the importance of an index, it helps to consider the alternatives. The most prevalent means of access to information in HTML files seems to be the search engine.

Broccoli, Kevin. FiniteSite (1999). Articles>Indexing>Web Design


Working With Freelance Indexers

An otherwise good book can be significantly enhanced by a good index and seriously weakened by a poor one. Nevertheless, it seems to be a house rule in publishing, probably for reasons of cost, that the editor asks and expects the author to create a book's index. But while, of course, an author can sometimes produce a good index, many authors are not well-suited to the task. Unless an author has previously indexed a book, he or she is unlikely to have the experience or proficiency, not to mention the time, to create an index that comes close to the level of quality routinely achieved by an experienced professional indexer. That is because there are, in fact, particular indexing skills that are developed with experience.

ASI (1998). Articles>Indexing



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