Re: indexing

Subject: Re: indexing
From: Mark Magennis <markmagennis -at- YAHOO -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999 05:14:43 -0400

--- "Brame, Heather" <heatherb -at- AIINET -dot- COM> wrote:
> I have been asked to create an index in Word97 for a 400 page
> document. I have no experience indexing and I need to
> estimate the amount of time it will take me to complete the
> index.

I would imaging you'd be lookng at the best part of 3 weeks.
Since you have no experience, you will have to:

1. Learn how to write a useful index.
2. Decide what format and layout you want for your index.
3. Go through the mechanics of creating it in Word.

Each step will add some time to your estimate. I would say
(others may disagree) that in order to create an adequate index
(step 1) you should read at least a good book chapter on the art
of indexing. I recommend the "Indexing" chapter in Sun Technical
Publications' "Read Me First: A Style Guide for the Computer
Industry". Having read this, you certainly won't be an expert
but you'll be able to give it a decent crack and, with a bit of
natural tallent, you'll be able to produce a fairly good index.

Step 2, deciding on the format, will involve learning how to
create indexes in Word, so that you can test whether it is
possible to create the format and layout you desire. For
example, I have found that it is not possible to create a "See
also" subentry like so:

widgets, 230-237
See also application widgets
creating, 231
managing collections of, 235

Because subentries are ordered alophabetically, the "See also"
comes under "S", which is not what I want. I want it always to
be the first subentry. I haven't yet found a way to specify
that. I have to manual reposition the "See also"s after the
index has been built (there's also the problem of a spurious

Once you have found a format that can be created in Word, you
will have to go through the process of marking index entries and
creating "See also" or other references. I have yet to do this
for anything but a small test document, so there may well be
some serious pitfalls I have yet to encounter. As far as I can
tell, it will become a bit messy if you want to use page ranges
for long topics, which I think you should for a decent index.
This involves creating a bookmark for each page range and you
will end up with hundreds of bookmarks which may cause
difficulties for later updating (you have to think up pretty
good names for them all). I don't relish it although I, like
you, am shortly going to be indexing large Word documents.

As for time requirements, Sun's style guide says to allow a full
day for every 25 pages of text, although first-time indexers may
require more time. I would also factor in a huge wodge to deal
with Word problems. Others may have useful experience and tips
to convey on this subject.

Please keep us informed about how you get on. Good luck.

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