Re: Indexes in the PDF era

Subject: Re: Indexes in the PDF era
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: Erika Yanovich <ERIKA_y -at- rad -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 16:36:02 -0800

Erika Yanovich wrote:

Hi Whirlers,
Before starting an initiative to improve our indexes, I consulted with
the team leaders and to my surprise, one of the possibilities mentioned
was to not provide indexes at all.

I believe in indexes, and am capable of producing good ones, but in IT (where I've worked) there isn't much demand for them.

I think it is tempting to let full text search (FTS) suffice for an index, not because FTS makes alpha indexes obsolete, but because the ease of using index tags in a document means that everyone can create an index, with the result that everyone now knows the widespread problem of amateurish indexes. I think there would be a lot of damage control needed if you wanted to sell tech writing customers on the value of an index. I can't even recall the last time one wanted one, but again, most of my work has been manuals for internal customers. A book to be published and sold will receive a better treatment with higher production values than an IT manual, and an index is indispensable in that market. Anyway, I try out the index before I buy any technical book.

BTW, you mentioned the PDF era, and that reminded me of an Acrobat discussion on techwr-l a few years ago. Searching for text in a pdf is like using optical character recognition--results are not as predictable as you'd like.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

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Indexes in the PDF era: From: Erika Yanovich

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