Re: remark about "See" index entries

Subject: Re: remark about "See" index entries
From: Karen Mulholland <kemulholland -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2008 13:45:43 -0800 (PST)

Replying to Peter Nielsen's comment about "See" index
entries not usually being helpful...

Peter, the example you gave (I think it was "Baked
beans: see Beans, baked") was a fine example of a
pointless cross-reference - which is high on my list
of what not to do in an index or anywhere else.

I think it's also a fabulous example of how NOT to use
"See" references. If you ever find an actual index
entry like your example, you have my permission to
smack the indexer with a wet noodle. Maybe a soggy
piece of lasagna, all things considered.

I find "See" references useful for teaching customers
the words that my company uses. I only use them when I
index terms that I do not want our customers to use,
such as our competitors' terminology. I try to learn
and index those undesirable terms, though, so our
customers can find what they're looking for and learn
what we call it.

If my company's product has a feature called
"AutoBlob" and our closest competitor makes a product
with a very similar feature that they call
"rectabularization", then my index will contain the
Rectabularization: See AutoBlob

This allows our competitor's (former) customers to get
up to speed on our company's vocabulary. They'll know
what I mean when I mention AutoBlob, they'll figure
out how to find AutoBlob controls and set-up
instructions, and if they happen to have trouble with
the AutoBlob feature, now they'll know what to call it
when they call our technical support team.

The index gives you an opportunity to break down the
"language barrier" between your company and your
competitors' customers. Nothing else you write lets
you do that so directly.


Karen Mulholland

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