Placement of index and TOC

Subject: Placement of index and TOC
From: "Jones, Donna" <DJones -at- zebra -dot- com>
To: "Geoff Hart" <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, <obair81 -at- comcast -dot- net>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 09:28:56 -0500

Geoff Hart wrote:

For example, there's no
reason other than tradition why we put indexes at the backs of books.
Why not put them up front with the table of contents (TOC), since both
are points of entrye into the larger work? Or use the (French?)
approach of putting the TOC at the back of the book with the index?

Traditions or not, IMHO the index and TOC are best separated so you can
find them more easily. It's a simple usability issue. When they're
located at separate ends (and without other stuff between them and the
covers) you can flip to them quickly. If they're together at either the
front or the back, it's more difficult to flip directly to the one that
you want. In a small book with a short index and TOC, that may not be an
issue, but in a big book with a 20-page long index and a 40-page long
TOC, it will.

One of my pet peeves is when a printed piece has a bunch of junk between
the front cover and the TOC so I have to dig to find the TOC. Magazines
are notorious for this. Some books do it, too, with too much information
cluttering the front of the book. The TOCs can be buried a number of
pages back, and some TOCs don't stand out from the pages around them,
making them even more difficult to locate. By the time you find the TOC,
you forget why you wanted it.

Okay, because it's Friday, how about some other layout and design pet
peeves? I hate it when:

- A TOC in a magazine is split apart into tiny chunks over several
pages, and I can't find the chunk of it that I need for the article
teaser that I saw on the cover. I miss the days when Readers Digest had
the TOC on the front cover. Now THAT was usable!

- I finally find something in a magazine TOC and start digging through
the pages only to find that none of the pages are numbered for 10 or 20
pages on either side of the article. Or they have meaningless page
numbers in the middle of the magazine--Advertisement page 1,
Advertisement page 2--and I'm looking for page 119. Number the pages,
people! And use consecutive numbers!

Is it 5 o'clock yet? :oD


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