RE: Indexes not related to structure

Subject: RE: Indexes not related to structure
From: "Michael West" <mwest -at- oz -dot- quest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 11:03:52 +1000

John Posada wrote:

> I'm not proposing that indexes don't have their place.
> However, I think they are used too often as a crutch
> inplace of intelligent, thought-out, and intuitive
> structure.

This seems to me to be mixing apples and oranges. No matter how well
organized a book is, a well-crafted index offers the reader a quick way to
find specific references that may or may not be visible in the heading
structure. Indexes don't "replace" anything -- they supplement. They add
access points and thereby enhance usability, regardless of how well or ill
the topic hierarchy is designed.

Authors of user guides may hope that their products will be "read" -- but in
the majority of cases, they will only be referred to. That makes a good index
a critical part of *most* readers' experience with your publication.

Michael West

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