Re: Never Had to Index

Subject: Re: Never Had to Index
From: Lori Lathrop <76620 -dot- 456 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 1996 06:39:18 EDT

In response to Stuart Burnfield (sb -at- FS -dot- COM -dot- AU), who said:

>Is the problem that you see indexing as a separate task from TW, a
>necessary buy annoying task that has to be knocked off at the end of
>the project? That sounds like the attiutde to documentation in too
>many unenlightened companies.

Thanks, Stuart! I couldn't have said it better myself. When I deliver indexing
workshops, I always emphasize the advantages to indexing as you write: (1) it
helps you use consistent terminology; (2) it helps you correct any
organizational problems in the manual (if information on a particular topic is
scattered throughout the text); and (3) it helps you correct any imbalances in
the document and/or in the index (if two topics of equal importance don't
receive equal treatment).

When I create indexes for publishing houses or for corporate clients at the very
end of the production cycle, I invariably find problems with inconsistent
terminology as well as organizational problems. For example, a book I indexed
this week had a person's last name spelled two different ways and a high-tech
company's name spelled three different ways! Also, the information on various
high-tech companies was scattered throughout the text; consequently, the index
is the only part of the book that pulls together information on these companies.
In other words, a good index presents a topic analysis and an organizational
structure that does not exist anywhere else in the text.

Stuart also said:

>I have this recurring nightmare where I die, and instead of St. Peter
>at the Pearly Gates, it's Lori Lathrop, and she's flicking through one
>of my indexes...aaiiiieeeeeeee!!!!

Oh no!!! Please say it isn't true! ;-) I'm really not scary enough to be in
anyone's nightmares!

BTW, if any of you are interested in improving your indexing skills (and if
Stuart hasn't scared you off!), here's a rundown of the one-day workshops
(Indexing Skills Workshop for Technical Communicators) I'll be doing this Fall:

9/28 STC East Bay Chapter
11/9 STC Chapter in Panama City, FL
11/15 Holiday Inn in Mesa, AZ

On 11/16, I'll deliver my one-day workshop called Editing Indexes for Quality &
Usability (which complements the one-day Indexing Skills Workshop) at Arizona
State University in Phoenix for the Arizona Chapter of the American Society of
Indexers (ASI).

And, if none of the above dates and locations are convenient, perhaps I'll see
some of you at the presentations I'll be doing for the PCOC (Practical
Conference on Communication) in Knoxville, the STC Region 7 Annual Conference in
Salt Lake City, or the STC Region 8 Annual Conference in Costa Mesa, CA.

FYI ... if you have Web access, I'd suggest that you check out the ASI Web Page
(http:/, which has a wealth of information on indexing
and some very useful links to reference sites.

I'm flying to Northern California tomorrow to deliver a two-day workshop at a
client site (9/25 & 26) and my one-day workshop for the STC East Bay Chapter
(9/28) ... and I'm looking forward to meeting many of you.

Happy indexing .... Lori
Lori Lathrop ---------->INTERNET:76620 -dot- 456 -at- compuserve -dot- com
Lathrop Media Services, P.O. Box 3065, Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Office: 303-567-4447, ext. 28 / Fax: 303-567-9306

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