RE: Multiple Index Entries: Your Input, Please...

Subject: RE: Multiple Index Entries: Your Input, Please...
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher5 -at- cox -dot- net>
To: "Keith Hansen" <KRH -at- weiland-wfg -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 13:20:18 -0700

From: Keith Hansen
> I have an indexing question; please give me your opinion.
> In many cases, it's possible to have two (or more) index entries that
> refer you to the same page. Example:
> * Index Entry No. 1: Users, adding to system . . . p. 264
> * Index Entry No. 2: Adding users to system . . . p. 264

Yes, and number 3 would be: System, adding users to . . . p. 264
> Here are my questions:
> Question No. 1:
> * Is one of the above formats considered preferable to the other?

If you consider that the average user has a pretty equal chance of hitting
any one of the three document entry points, then no, one is not better than
the other.

> * I prefer Index Entry No. 1 because it starts with the broad category
> you are working with (users) and then lists the specific action you are
> performing with that category (adding to system).

Yes, but do you know for sure that your users approach the problem the same
way? It's easy for you to say what's the best way into the book -- you wrote
it! <g> What if all your user can think of is "registering" when all you've
put in the index is "adding"?

> Question No. 2:
> * In a large index (say, dozens of pages), I would probably include both
> entries in my index. But what if the index is quite brief (say, five to
> 10 pages)? Would you still include both entries?
> * My view is that when the index is brief, it's easier for the user to
> quickly scan the entire contents. Thus, both entries may not be as
> necessary.

The length of the index is totally dependent on the length of the book and
the density of information. For short books -- under 25 pages or so -- many
believe an index not to be necessary. For most technical books, experts
(e.g., Lori Lathrop, past prez of the American Society of Indexers)
recommend a ratio of 1:20 -- one index page for each 20 text pages --
although I've seen 1:30 used too.

The only legitimate reason to limit the size of an index that I've ever
encountered was when a company was printing booklets using large sheets of
paper folded in quarters, so additions to the book had to be in multiples of
4 pages (front & back inclusive). When you're delivering to pdf, for
example, the more index entries you can create, the better for your user.
The only time I ever consider not using every permutation of an index entry
is when two permutations fall within one or two entries of each other
alphabetically. To me, it looks funny to have, for example:
defragment disk . . . p. 4
disk, defragment . . . p. 4

> Any opinions? Thanks.

LOL! on this list??? naah. ;-)

-Sue Gallagher


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Multiple Index Entries: Your Input, Please...: From: Keith Hansen

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