Re: indexing gerunds

Subject: Re: indexing gerunds
From: Lori Lathrop <76620 -dot- 456 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 1995 11:03:33 EDT

In response to Kevin Sporleder, who asks whether it's helpful to include
gerunds in an index:

Kevin -- First, I apologize for being so late in responding to your
question. I've been "on the road" delivering indexing workshops, and I
returned last night (just in time to pack for my next trip -- tomorrow).

The thing to ask yourself as you create index entries is "Will readers
look for this term in the index?" If you think readers will look under D
for "displaying" then "displaying the P&L report" would be a good index
entry. But ... here's another thought .... If you think they'll look
under "displaying," do you think they might look under "viewing" as well?
If so, you should either have the same page references or subentries
under *both* entries or use a *See* reference from one to the other; for
example: "viewing. See displaying"

Generally speaking, gerunds make better subentries than main headings.
This is especially true if the manual uses some terms interchangeably.
For example, the publisher of a textbook on advanced features for a
software package asked me to mimick the index created by another indexer
for a textbook on basic features for that software package. I did what
the publisher asked; however, I found myself making choices that I
generally would not have made because the author (and the other indexer)
used several terms interchangeably, such as: changing, editing, and
modifying. Since each of these gerunds appeared as a main heading in the
index for the textbook on basic features, I had to do the same in
indexing the textbook on advanced features. So, for example, in addition
to an entries like

*See also* customizing; editing; modifying
data format
font attributes

I also created

data format, changing

formatting with xxxxxxx feature

The index was *very* comprehensive; however, I found myself wondering
whether readers would follow the author's logic in using terms
interchangeabley. Of course, the index should reflect the author's
terminology ... but I don't think it was necessary to reflect the author's
tendency to use terms interchangeably by using those gerunds as main
headings. If I had not agreed to mimick the previous indexer's style, I
would have used those gerunds only as subentries under headings for the
appropriate topics (like "data format" and "fonts").

I hope this makes sense. If you have any questions, please let me know
... today, if possible. I'm flying off again tomorrow and will be gone
for a week.

BTW, for those of you who want to attend a comprehensive one-day workshop
on indexing technical documents, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of STC will be
hosting a one-day version of my "Indexing Skills Workshop for Technical
Communicators" on Friday, March 8, 1996. For more info, contact Nancy
Walters, 303-750-1831.

Lori Lathrop ----------> INTERNET:76620 -dot- 456 -at- compuserve -dot- com
Lathrop Media Services, P.O. Box 3065, Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Office: 303-567-4011 / Home: 303-567-9533

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