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> About a year ago, I got very interested in hypertext. As my interest
> turned deeper, and I started asking around about how to make better
> products, the subject of indexing came up time and time again. At first I
> thought this odd, that the hypertext would not supercede this ancient
> craft, but much to my amazement, it was exactly what I needed.
> Now I am not much of an indexing expert, but the little bit of study that
> I did in that area had the most profound impact of anything that I tried
> with my hypertext products. It gave me a basis, or foundation on which to
> build my work, and to be sure that nothing got left out, or overlooked, I
> would keep a copy of the written index with me whenever I built hypertext.
> Does anyone out there know of a good indexing text, I would like to learn
> more, and don't really know much about the field,
> Mark Woodward
I'm very happy to see that technical writers are promoting indexing,
especially the traditional index. I am also encouraged when I see that
someone appreciates the connection between hypertext and indexing.
The traditional indexer's "bible" is _A Manual of Style_, commonly
known as the Chicago Style Manual or just "Chicago." It has a lot of
helpful information on indexing. However, it is incomplete and some of
it is outdated. They are currently working on a revised edition.
Another reference book with a section on indexing is _Webster's
Standard American Style Manual_. It complements "Chicago."
ANSI also has an indexing standard, and it is also undergoing revisions.
Most book indexers don't consider the current edition very helpful. As
I recall, it applies mostly to database indexing and thesauri.
_Indexing and Abstracting in Theory and Practice_ by F. W. Lancaster
(ISBN 0-87845-083-1) is a textbook. It won the 1992 award for best
information science book from the American Society for Information
Science. It's strong on theory, not as strong on practical information.
Another textbook is _Indexing from A to Z_ by Hans Wellisch. The blurb
I have here says it's "an encyclopedic work covering basic indexing
techniques, author-publisher-indexer relations, business considerations,
editing and proofreading, computer-assisted indexing, and many other
topics..." This book has lots of practical information, but its audience
is primarily the freelance indexer.
Information specific to technical material, such as software user guides,
is more difficult to find. I've seen articles in _The Editorial Eye_ and
in the newsletter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC).
Also, check the proceedings of the annual STC conference. They usually
have at least one paper or workshop on indexing.
Consider joining the American Society of Indexers (ASI). They have many
resources for indexers, including a newsletter and a journal. They also
have many local chapters, and the chapters frequently hold workshops
and seminars. For information: ASI Office, Kathy Caldwell, P.O. Box
386, Port Aransas, TX 78373, (512) 749-4052, FAX (512) 749-6334.
To get information on ASI publications, contact the ASI Publications
Sales Office at the same address. Publications include _Freelancers on
Starting and Maintaining an Indexing Business_, _Generic Markup of
Electronic Index Manuscripts_, _A Guide to Indexing Software_,
_Indexing: A Basic Reading List_, Indexing Biographies and Other
Stories of Human Lives_, and _Indexing from A to Z_.
I don't know of any exercise books, except for one that's included with
a correspondence course. The course is basic indexing, offered by the
Graduate School of the USDA. The workbook is very good, and I've used
it many times to train indexers. I don't have the address with me, but
send email if you want it.
Finally, there is a listserv group for indexing. To subscribe, send a
message to LISTSERV -at- BINGVMB -dot- BITNET -dot- The body of your message should say
subscribe INDEX-L your name
Please continue advocating for good indexes!
| Joan Stout |
| Technical Writer (& part-time|
| professional indexer) |
| sasjcs -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com |
| SAS Institute, Inc. |
| Cary, NC |