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

Subject: Re: Multiple Index Entries: Your Input, Please...
From: Beth Agnew <beth -dot- agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 17:20:04 -0400

User analysis should give you some idea of what terms your readers prefer to search. Some of your audience may never think to look up "users" when what they want to do is add people to a system, or add accounts, or enable privileges, etc. There are as many ways of thinking about things as there are people who think. :-)
If your index is small, use the most common and simple entry form -- "adding ... (users, accounts, etc.)"; if you have lots of room for an index, redundancy is a good thing.

Case in point: I worked on an employee handbook that had people frustrated because they couldn't find the policy for taking time off work when a family member passed away. The index did not have "Compassionate leave" or "Death of family member" or "Leave to attend funeral" or anything that would normally come to mind. The policy was entitled "Bereavement". 99% of the employees didn't think of that word to look it up, especially when they were stressed by a death in the family.

Keith Hansen wrote:

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

Here are my questions:

Question No. 1: * Is one of the above formats considered preferable to 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).

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
Beth Agnew

Professor, Technical Communication
Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
Toronto, ON 416.491.5050 x3133


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

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