RE: Indexes for online use

Subject: RE: Indexes for online use
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "'M. Maler'" <mmaler -at- videotron -dot- ca>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2010 09:48:58 -0700

M. Maler wrote:

> I've convinced my current client to invest in a decent index, but as I
> work on it, I find myself using full-text search to locate my own index
> entries to check their targets, and I'm starting to wonder if maybe my
> end users might not be inclined to do the same.

If your index entries simply replicate the text they're indexing, then your index adds no value.

One of the chief advantages of a well-crafted index over full-text search is that it can point people to the right topics using words that don't appear in those topics. As a trivial example, an index may point people to the Find command with entries for "search," "retrieve," or "locate."

Another value of an index is that it can filter out the chaff. A full-text search for "find" might turn up dozens or hundreds of instances. A well-crafted index can identify (perhaps with several well-chosen subentries) the small number of places where there is significant information, not just passing mention.

You'll have to decide if you want to create a truly "decent" index, which offers something more than the search function, or drop the project. But you're right -- an index that offers nothing beyond what search provides is pretty much a waste of time.

Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


Use Doc-To-Help's XML-based editor, Microsoft Word, or HTML and
produce desktop, Web, or print deliverables. Just write (or import)
and Doc-To-Help does the rest. Free trial:

Explore CAREER options and paths related to Technical Writing,
learn to create SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS documents, and
get tips on FUNCTIONAL SPECIFICATION best practices. Free at:

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:

Indexes for online use: From: M. Maler

Previous by Author: RE: Writing dimensions
Next by Author: RE: Reversing word order in Excel 2007 cells
Previous by Thread: Indexes for online use
Next by Thread: Re: Indexes for online use

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads