INDEXFAQ - Part 2 (long append)

Subject: INDEXFAQ - Part 2 (long append)
From: Lori Lathrop <76620 -dot- 456 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 1994 21:29:48 EDT


In 1993, the American Society of Indexers (P.O. Box 386, Port Aransas, TX
78373-0386 / telephone: 512-749-4052) publisned _An Index Evaluation
Checklist_, a guide to help authors, editors, publishers, reviewers, and
librarians assess index quality. Below are some excerpts from the guide:


Have index terms been supplied which the intended reader is most likely to
look up first? Examples: "heart attack" in a book for the general public,
"myocardial infarction" in a book for health professionals; "Taxus" in a
work for botanists or horticulturalists, "Yew" in a work for home


Are the main headings relevant to the needs of the reader? Are they
pertinent, specific, comprehensive? Not too general yet not too narrow?
Not inane or improbable?

Do main headings have not more than 5-7 locators (page references?) If
more, they should be broken down into subheadings.


Are subheadings useful? "Roosevelt, Franklin, problems with Republicans,
1-32" is not useful.

Are subheadings concise, with the most important word at the beginning?
For example, not "banks, and relationship to Federal Reserve Bank" but
"banks, Federal Reserve regulation". Unnecessary words and phrases like
"concerning" and "relating to" and a proliferation of prepositions and
articles should be avoided.

Is the number of subheadings about right? More than one column's worth is
probably too many. Are subheadings overanalyzed? Could they be combined?
For example, could "dimensions" be substituted for "height," "width" and
"length"? Or should some subheadings become main headings with their own
subheadings instead?

Do subheadings have no more than 5-7 locators? If more, they should
either be broken down into subheadings or be changed to main headings.


For the reader's convenience, many subheadings should be double posted --
that is, they should exist as main headings, too. An example: Cats:
Siamese" and Siamese cats". Has this been done? Double postings should,
of course, have the same locators. Do they?


Are the locators accurate? Check a sample of entries to see.

When locators include roman numerals or volume numbers, does the
typography make the usage clear?


A *See* should direct the reader to a different term expressing the same
concept, such as "Clemens, Samuel. See Twain, Mark" or "aerobics. See
exercise." A *See also* should guide the reader to related entries for
more and different information. Examples: "Mammals: 81, 85, 105; See
also names of individual mammals" "astronomy 12-14, 56, 68. See also
galaxies; planets". Have *See* and *See also* cross-references been


Is the index length adequate for the complexity of the book? An index
should be 3-5% of the pages in the typical non-fiction book, perhaps 5-8%
for a history or biography, and more (15-20%) for reference books..

Is there a need for more than one type of index? For example, in addition
to the usual subject index, perhaps a separate name or place index is
called for. If so, is there one?


Is the type large enough to be easily read? Do the index pages look open
and not crowded?

Are the main headings and subheadings (and sub-subheadings, if any)
distinguished from each other?

Is the organization -- whether alphabetical, chronological, or other --
accurate, clear and consistent?

When an entry's subheadings "turn a page," that is, are continued from a
right-hand page to a left-hand page, the main heading should be repeated,
followed by the word (continued) in parentheses. Depending on the size of
the pages, continued headings might be appropriate for continuations from
left to right pages, or even from left to right columns. Are they

Does an introductory note to the index seem appropriate, to explain
special features such as multiple indexes, symbols for footnotes, figures
or maps, or unusual typography? If so, has it been provided?

Preferences for punctuation between main headings and their subheadings
and *See* and *See also* cross-references will vary from publisher to
publisher. This brochure features several acceptable variants. The
important thing is that the punctuation style be clear to the reader and
consistent. Is it?


Stay tuned for Part 3 of the INDEXFAQ file ....

Lori Lathrop ----------------> INTERNET:76620 -dot- 456 -at- compuserve -dot- com
Lathrop Media Services
P.O. Box 808
Georgetown, CO 80444
(303)567-4011 -- home office
(303)567-9306 -- fax

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