On multiple indexes

Subject: On multiple indexes
From: "logendra (l.) naidoo" <naidoo -at- BNR -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 1994 14:01:00 -0500

Hans writes:

> A good many academic books have separate indexes,--e.g., one for
> "subjects" and one for "names". The more indexes there are, the more
> aggravating I find it (one linguistics book I know has four separate
> indexes, for subjects, names, rules & principles, and languages).
> But even two adds significantly to my search time, especially since
> they usually come with virtually no navigational help (tabs, headers,
> whatever).

> Why? Are there readers who prefer this? Are multiple indexes cheaper
> to produce? Are some indexers sadists? Why?

When using indexes, I find the less the better. A well integrated index,
in my opinion, is one that has all the relevant topics, keywords,
abbreviations, acronyms, and names alphabetically organized. More than
one index is silly, even for very large books. I see the purpose of an
index as being a quick and easy reference list. There is nothing quick
and easy about spending half an hour looking for Weiss in the regular
index only to discover he is really in the Names index. There is only
one type of index worth using in my opinion.

Another thought...
I use FrameMaker for generating index entries as I write or at the end
of the writing process (night before deadline). I find that others who
are responsible, skilled indexers by profession sometimes miss important
words and de-emphasize a word's importance by incorrectly categorizing
them (of course this is dependent upon the subject matter).
Real life example:

Network cards
serial data
memory expansion

The technology I am working on would only have the enhanced card
classified as a Network card. It's not anyone's fault, just writer's
familiarity. I believe over-categorization can diminish an index's

Logendra Naidoo
Information Developer
Northern Telecom
Ottawa, Ontario

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