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Editing Your Index. Presented by Maria Coughlin. Saturday, October 26 ASI Colorado Area Chapter Fall Conference Louisville, Colorado. Introduction. Who are you? What do you want to get out of this presentation? Ask questions! Who am I to tell you anything?. Topics this morning.

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editing your index

Editing Your Index

Presented by Maria Coughlin

Saturday, October 26

ASI Colorado Area Chapter

Fall Conference

Louisville, Colorado

Seattle 2002

introduction
Introduction
  • Who are you?
  • What do you want to get out of this presentation?
  • Ask questions!
  • Who am I to tell you anything?

Seattle 2002

topics this morning
Topics this morning
  • Some philosophy; What is a good index?; Theory and practice of indexing (esp. for tech writers).
  • What is editing?; What does editing require?; When does it begin?; When does it end?
  • 10:45-11 BREAK
  • Two brief practicums to illustrate editing errors and develop your editing chops.

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some philosophy
Some philosophy
  • There is no “silver bullet.”
  • Two things I won’t stop talking about:
    • Everything changes according to the idiosyncrasies of the particular case (“It depends!” or content and users meet in context).
    • and Being consistent is more important than being right (Dick Evans).

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would a big league glove give you confidence
Would a Big League glove give you confidence?
  • Nobody (Mulvany, Wellisch, Coughlin) is right all the time, because:
    • Indexing is a craft (not an art; not a science).
    • A craft doesn’t separate design and manufacture.

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however
However…
  • The artfulness of your index can be measured by how well it helps the user make sense of the concepts.
  • The index supplies insight and illumination, not description.
  • The index is a content audit or inventory.

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which means that
Which means that …
  • To make an index, the indexer has to analyze the text (problem-seeking – “What would the reader user/look for?”) and synthesize the entries (problem-solving – “Here’s a concept that should be entered in the index.”).

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the craft of indexing
The Craft of Indexing
  • THINK before you INDEX.
  • But, making entries may be a way of thinking.
  • Still, don’t get too attached to one form too soon.
  • What you index reveals how you understand the concepts you’re making available – how the content makes sense.

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you re making something that makes sense
You’re making something that makes sense!

An index is a systematic interpretation of the content.

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What an index is not

A concordance – An alphabetical list of significant words in the domain.

A list of topic titles – Though topic titles are often entered as index keywords, this only produces an alpha-sorted table of contents (TOC). An index is not an outline of the domain. It is not hierarchical!

A commentary – Indexes are not a place for the indexer’s opinions. Indexes are domain-centric and exegetical (the analysis is taken from the text, not read into it).

An afterthought – The index is not an accessory.

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A definition

An index is a retrieval device that allows access to all the important topics, facts, names, and concepts in an information domain. An index is arranged alphabetically or by function, command, procedure, or topic. The subject matter and purpose of the domain determine what is important. The user doesn’t have to know anything about the domain, because the index is informative and browseable.

From Larry Bonura, The Art of Indexing (1994, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-01449-4). The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Ed., Chapter 17, “Indexes.” And Meisheid (see Resources)

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Why index?

  • To add value.
  • A good index makes any [document] more valuable to all [users].

From Bonura

  • Usable indexes increase profits…[because]
  • Usable indexes improve documentation…
  • Usable documentation improves products… [and]
  • Usable products sell…
  • From Kurt Ament, Indexing: A Nuts-and-Bolts Guide for Technical Writers (2001, William Andrew Publishing, ISBN 0-8155-1481-6).

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What makes a good index?

  • A good index is:
  • Accurate
  • Complete
  • Concise
  • Cross-referenced
  • Logical
  • Reader-appropriate
  • Reliable
  • Usable (and reusable)

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What makes a good index?

  • Accurate – Each item references a relevant topic.
  • Comprehensive – Every relevant term is included.
  • Concise – References are well-chosen.
  • Cross-referenced – Seeand See also bring in relations of terms. “…with a well-defined network of cross references, the mob becomes an army…” – Charles Ammi Cutter
  • Double posted – Entries are inverted (double posted) as necessary to facilitate access.

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What makes a good index?

  • Encompassing – References for all similar concepts scattered throughout the information space are gathered into the index (Bonura calls this “depth of indexing”).
  • Parallel and consistent – Terms are grammatically comparable and similarly represented.
  • Text-centered – The index serves the text of the information space and not the prejudices of the indexer.
  • From Meisheid

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Rules for indexing

  • In plain language!
  • If you pick it up, pick it up. – Do Mi Stauber
  • You can have fast, cheap, good. Pick two. – Dick Evans
  • Know thy audience. – Meisheid
  • It depends.

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GLOSSARY

  •  acronyms If you pronounce an abbreviation as a word (“ASCII”), it’s an acronym.
  • body The body of the text is the narrative “stuff” that isn’t in titles, headings, diagrams, tables, or boxes. It includes lists and examples.
  •  concept The topic of an entry. It does not necessarily use exactly the same word, words, or phrasing as the text. See also keywords.

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GLOSSARY

  • cross-references
  • A See reference leads from a term not used as an index entry to the synonym or alternate term that is used (the target term). This could be a similar term, a reversed term, an expansion of an abbreviation, or a general or specific class.
  • A See also reference leads to related terms (information) under another heading (target term).
  • A missing entry is a cross-reference to a target term that doesn’t exist. An absolute No-No.

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GLOSSARY

  • double-posting A topic is entered in the index under various iterations of its keyword(s) or existing subentries are made into main entries:
    • cocktail dress and dress, cocktail
    • casserole

broccoli

cabbage

elver

  • become, in addition:
  • broccoli casserole
  • cabbage casserole
  • elver casserole

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GLOSSARY

  • entry An entry is a topic plus a locator. There are levels of entries:
  • a main entry is the primary (first-level) entry.
  • subentriesare the secondary (tertiary, etc.) levels that fall under the main entry.

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GLOSSARY

headings In the text, a heading is a word or phrase (usually in a different type size and font from the narrative text and set off with space above and below it) that divides one part of the narrative from another. In an index, “heading” is a synonym for “entry.”

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GLOSSARY

keywords Keywords are significant words that are prime candidates for index entries. They differ from topics in that every keyword has a topic, but not every topic has a keyword. While a concordance is a list of words, an index uses words, but only insofar as they serve as concepts (topics) and modifiers. Confused? Ignore this definition entirely and think Keyword = Entry.

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GLOSSARY

locator A locator indicates where the concept is to be found. It may be a page number (also called a page reference), a tag/URL, or a compound of section + paragraph number or volume + issue + page numbers.

topic The topic is the subject of the main index entry.

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What to index

Technical Publications

  • Acronyms
  • Alternate names and common synonyms (?)
  • Command names
  • Error conditions and messages
  • Examples (?)
  • Figures
  • Glossary terms
  • Introductory information (?)
  • Keyboard keys and shortcuts

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What to index

üMeasurements

üMenu options

üOverviews (?)

üProper names

üRestrictions

üScreen selections

üSpecial characters or symbols

üSystem messages

üTables

üTasks

üTools

(?) = maybe (it depends)

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Indexing, step by step

As you follow the steps outlined below, always keep in mind that you should index topics in the same manner in which the reader/user will attempt to find them.

As Ament says: “Walk in the shoes of your users. Look at the world from their perspective. Speak their language. Localize your index to the idiosyncrasies of your users.”

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Also, don’t try to index the whole document at once. Approach the document by chapter or section and work through them one at a time, completing each one as you go.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 1. IDENTIFY YOUR USERS

If you’re the author of the document, you already know its organization, orientation, and content, and you are probably prepared to determine suitable indexing topics. If you’re not the author, you need to determine who will be using your index.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 1. IDENTIFY YOUR USERS

If you can ask the author in person, because she sits in the next cubicle, then ask her: Who is your audience? Programmers? Tech support? Engineers? End-users? Students? If the document has a preface or introduction, you can usually glean clues from reading it.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 1. IDENTIFY YOUR USERS

If you’re not the author, this is also a good time to glance through the text, noting its organization and content, particularly headings, boxed materials, bold-faced or italicized terms, lists, glossaries or vocabulary terms, summaries, or “what you’ve accomplished”-type lists.

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slide31

Indexing, step by stepStep 2. INDEX THE CHAPTER TITLES

Analysis: Is the chapter title descriptive (narrative) or prescriptive (procedural)? Descriptive titles answer the classic “who-what-where-when-why” quintet. Prescriptive titles answer the solo “how.”

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Indexing, step by stepStep 2. INDEX THE CHAPTER TITLES

Method: To create an index entry for a descriptive title, choose the prominent answer(s) to the quintet (e.g., mice, men, monkeys). To create an entry for a procedure (task), choose a term that describes the procedure (e.g., installing, exiting, scratching). For the locator, enter the page or page range that covers the topic (e.g., 3 or 3-10). Index all the chapter titles at once, so that you get an overview of the whole document.

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slide33

Indexing, step by stepStep 3. INDEX TASKS (PROCEDURES)

Analysis: Tasks described in the main body of the text are usually easy to locate. They are often contained in headings, they indicate an action (e.g., “strangling your cat”), and they contain instructions. You can index the tasks in each chapter as you work your way through it, or you can create index entries for all the procedures in the text at once. Don’t forget tasks discussed in appendices.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 3. INDEX TASKS (PROCEDURES)

Method: Create an entry for the task. If the discussion of the task is longer than one page, use a page range for the locator.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

Analysis: Topics in the text also answer the “who-what-when-where-why” quintet. They may be contained in headings, they may be printed in boldface or italic type, and they may be ideas in words, phrases, paragraphs, examples, table titles, table contents, diagrams, or glossaries. Selecting topics is the most challenging part of creating an index. Here are some hints for analyzing topics:

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Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

Names are usually topics (including product names, people’s names, place names, and company names) if they are discussed meaningfully, not given as examples or mentioned in passing. (Ask yourself: If the user comes to this page, will he learn anything substantial or relevant about “X”?) Drugs have generic names and brand names. They are usually entered under their generic name (“aspirin”) with the brand name cross-referenced back to the generic (“Bayer. See aspirin”).

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slide37

Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

NOTE: If a person, product, company, or drug is the primary topic of the whole document, you will probably not enter it in the index! That’s because the primary topic is understood to be the context for all your index entries.

Cross-reference all trademarked names:

WinWord. See Microsoft Word

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slide38

Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

This is a good point for our discussion of capitalization. It’s important that you always capitalize proper names, including product brand names, in the index. Currently, the trend in indexing is to leave all other terms lower-cased, even when they are the main entry.

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slide39

Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

Definitions are easily identified as topics. Definitions can occur in the body of the text or in the glossary. Although sometimes the glossary is not indexed, all definitions given in the body of the text should be indexed, because definitions are keys to understanding the document.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

Acronyms and abbreviations are shortened forms of names, words, or phrases. Familiar (common) abbreviations usually can serve as main entries because they’re more familiar to the user than the terms they abbreviate (e.g., DNA, IBM, URL, XML). Uncommon abbreviations or acronyms or those that stand for more than one thing are usually cross-referenced to their fully spelled-out form (“UMB. See University of Maryland at Baltimore; Untitled memory block”).

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Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

Be consistent in your approach to abbreviations. Most often, your procedure will be to use the acronyms and abbreviations as the main entries and to cross-reference their fully spelled-out versions to the acronym/abbreviation as the target (“Extensible Markup Language. See XML”).

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slide42

Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

Warnings, notes, error conditions and messages, and system messages are fairly obvious topics. For example: if a printer manual says “!WARNING: Spilling liquids on the printer will cause an electrical hazard” you should index that topic, probably under both the term “electrical hazard” and the category “warnings,” and maybe also under “safety.” Can you think of another topic you might also enter it under? (Not “stupidity.”)

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slide43

Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

Special characters and symbols present an interesting challenge. They are clearly topics, but where do they go in the index? At the top, under their actual symbol (“™, use of, 20”)? In the text, under their spelled-out form (“trademark (™), use of, 20”)? Or both places? Where would you look for them?

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slide44

Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

Command names, menus,screen selections, tools, and keyboard keys and shortcuts are other obvious topics. But don’t make them into hierarchical lists, because that puts a non-intuitive layer between the user and the index entry. For example, does the reader know that “Edit” is both a command and a menu? A user interested in editing should be given an indication of both conditions in one stop.

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slide45

Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

Bad: Good:

Commands Add command, 10

Add, 10 Document menu, 14

Edit, 15 Edit command, 15

Save, 20 Edit menu, 15

Menus Save command, 20

Document, 14 Tools menu, 22

Edit, 15

Tools, 22

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Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

BUT you can “nest” commands as subentries under their menu, because the user interested in editing can browse the possibilities.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

In the CINDEX™ manual, the entry looks like:

Edit menu, 248-256

Undo, 248

Cut, 248

Copy, 248

Paste, 248

Clear, 248

Select All, 248

New Record, 249

Edit Record, 249

Duplicate, 249

Deleted, 249

Labeled, 250

Find, 250-252

Replace, 252-253, 252f

New Group, 253

Save Group, 254

New Abbreviation, 254

Preferences, 254-256, 254f

What order are these subentries in?

What does f mean?

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slide48

Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

  • Figures (diagrams) and tables usually state their topic clearly in their legend (caption) or title. Some indexers put f or t after the locator to indicate that the index entry is found in the figure or table, respectively.
  • Restrictions are not as easily identified as topics, but they are. Look for clues like rules, cautions, notes, or default values and options. In other words, things you can do or change, but with (possibly dire) consequences.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

An indexing manual, for example, might have the entry:

Sorting, 137-156

rules of, overriding, 149-156

The subentry here is a restriction, and if you go to pages 149-156, you’ll find all the consequences of overriding the sort rules.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 4. FIND TOPICS

  • Alternate names and common synonyms, examples, introductory information, and overviewsmay be topics, depending on your users. Remember, know your users and you’ll know whether they’ll need to find these topics.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

Method: Indexers call this “casting entries.”

My dictionary’s definitions of “cast” include:

“1.To throw, hurl. 2. To shed, molt. … 9. To give birth to prematurely. 10. To cause (hounds) to scatter and circle in search of lost scent.”

These are nicely colorful versions of what I do when I cast entries, but the accepted definition is probably “13. To give form to; arrange.”

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Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

You might think of it as the phrasing or syntax of your index entries. There are myriads of rules about casting entries, but here’s a fast overview:

Emphasize the major noun (or subject or keyword) of the entry by putting it as close to the left margin as possible. (Users scan the left margins of indexes.) For example, a pet owner’s manual says: “CAUTION: Feeding corn to a snake can kill it.” Using “feeding corn” is not an effective entry. The keyword is corn, so the entry should be “corn, feeding to snake.”

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slide53

Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

  • Make as many entries as necessary to help the user find the information. In our example above, we would also invert the entry to read “snake, feeding corn to.”

Later on, the pet owner’s manual also contains the information that corn gives dogs a bellyache. Not only does this sentence have two keywords, corn and dog, but also it contains information about corn that is of the same general class as that given for snakes/corn.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

So, reanalysis of your snake entry in light of your dog entry indicates that it’s not the pouring of corn down the snake’s throat (feeding) that’s the topic, it’s the adverse effects of corn. So you edit your snake/corn and enter your dog/corn and get:

corn

adverse effects of

in dogs, 45

in snakes, 42

dogs

adverse effects of corn in, 45

snakes

adverse effects of corn in, 42

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Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

By now you’ve noticed that index entries do not necessarily use natural grammatical order. Whereas the natural order is “knitting sweaters for penguins,” the index order is “sweaters, for penguins, knitting,” and “penguins, sweaters for, knitting.”

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Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

  • A digression on the “King of Catalogs,” Charles Ammi Cutter:
  • Cutter gave some (cataloging) guidelines that are also good guidelines for indexing/thesaurus construction:
  • Use the most significant words.
  • Reduce adjective nouns to noun phrases.
  • Use singular rather than plural.
  • File compound words under the first word.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

  • Cutter described types of headings:
  • Single word (Botany, Ethics)
  • Adjective-noun (Capital punishment)
  • Noun-noun (Death penalty)
  • Noun-preposition-noun (Penalty of death)
  • Noun-conjunction-noun (Nurses and nursing)

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Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

In the corn/snake and corn/dog examples above, the entries were also inverted, to make both instances of the relationship corn/animal available under both “corn” and the specific animal. Another use of inversion is in tasks, where both the task and its object are inverted: “files, editing” and “editing, files.”

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Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

However, do not invert “married terms.” Married terms are adjective-noun compounds like “hot key” or “hard space” and noun-noun compounds like “quotation marks” or “disk space.” Also, don’t use an adjective alone as a main entry. The entries

binary

language, 14

operators, 11

should be entered as

binary language, 14

binary operators, 11

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Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

Beware of placing entries into false categories (Bonura calls this factoring). If factored, the potential entries “pasture fencing” and “fencing stolen goods” (not likely to appear in the same document, I admit) would come out:

fencing

of pastures

of stolen goods

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Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

Locators are usually separated from the last word of the entry by a comma or extra space (or sometimes by a colon).

Multiple locators are usually separated from each other by commas.

If the locator covers a range, say pages 46 to 48, it is entered as 46-48, with a hyphen or a dash indicating the range.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 5. ENTER/EDIT YOUR TOPICS

If the locators in a range already contain hyphens (if they indicate a section and a paragraph, for example) the word “to” is used to indicate the range:

for example, 10-22 to 10-24, not

10-22–10-24 or, worse, 10-22–24.

If discussion of a topic begins on page 3, is broken by another topic, and then is resumed on page 4, the locator could be either “3-4” or “3, 4” as long as the indexer is consistent and always uses the same format for instances of this type.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 6. FORMATTING THE INDEX

Analysis: Formatting is how the index is sorted and displayed and what punctuation is used – in other words, what the index looks like.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 6. FORMATTING THE INDEX

Method: If the publisher of your document has preferences (alphabetical sorting by word or by letter, indented index or run-in – paragraph – style, cross-references located at top or bottom of entry), you’ll probably receive a style sheet to follow. If nobody has any idea what to do, pick an index you like and follow it.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 6. FORMATTING THE INDEX

NOTE: Until you get lots of indexing experience, stay away from run-in indexes. It’s much more difficult to cast entries for run-in indexes, and they’re best avoided if the index requires more than one level of subentry.

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Indexing, step by stepStep 6. FORMATTING THE INDEX

ANOTHER NOTE: The best way to format an index is to use dedicated indexing software!

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Let’s Practice

Here’s a passage from an actual book.

The shrew is a ferocious and deadly little animal. If it were any larger – it is less than the size of a mouse – it would be one of the most feared animals in the world. It has a narrow, tapering snout; close, dark, sooty-velvet fur; and needle teeth. A poison gland in its mouth sends venom into its victim when it bites, and its prey dies quickly.

– V. S. Eifert, Journeys in Green Places

What entries would you make?

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Tools and Resources

Organizations and SIGs

American Society of Indexers10200 West 44th Avenue, Suite 304  Wheat Ridge, CO 80033  Voice: 303-463-2887   Fax: 303-422-8894   Email: [email protected]

ASI has several SIGs available to members.

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Tools and Resources

STC has an active indexing SIG. SIG members receive “A to Z,” the SIG’s newsletter, which is published three times a year, and they have a listserv. SIG members can subscribe by sending e-mail with the contents “subscribe stcsig-1 [your e-mail address]” to [email protected]

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Indexing Software

CINDEX™

Contact information:

Indexing Research

100 Allens Creek Road

Rochester, NY 14618

Voice: 716-461-5530

Fax: 716-442-3924

email: [email protected]

web: www.indexres.com

Demo version available as download.

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Indexing Software

IXGen

Contact information:

Web: http://home.pacifier.com/~franks/index.html

Excellently reviewed by Anne C. Barrett in the September 2001 issue of “A to Z.”

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Indexing Software

Macrex

Contact information:

Macrex Support Office, North America

(Wise Bytes)

P. O. Box 3051

Daly City, CA

650.756.0821 (voice)

877.INDEX01 (sales, toll-free)

650.292.2302 (fax)

[email protected]

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Indexing Software

SKY Index™

Contact information:

SKY Software

350 Montgomery Circle

Stephens City, VA 22655

Toll-free: 800-776-0137

Local: 540-869-6581

Email: mailto:[email protected]

web: www.sky-software.com

Demo version available as download.

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Indexing Software

Leverage Technologies (LevTech) supplies training, installation, and support for CINDEX™. LevTech also supplies utilities for CINDEX™ that validate index style and help prepare Web indexes.

Contact information:

Leverage Technologies, Inc.

9519 Greystone Parkway

Cleveland, OH 44141-2939

Toll-free: 888-838-1203; Local/fax: 440-838-1203

e-mail: [email protected]

web: www.LevTechinc.com

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Publications

Kurt Ament, Indexing: A Nuts-and-Bolts Guide for Technical Writers (2001, William Andrew Publishing, ISBN 0-8155-1481-6) $40+ (Amazon or the publisher).

Larry Bonura, The Art of Indexing (1994, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-01449-4) $39.99 on Amazon.

Linda K. Fetters, Handbook of Indexing Techniques: A Guide for Beginning Indexers (1999, publisher and ISBN unknown to MC), $20 on Amazon.

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Publications

William Meisheid, Successful Indexing With RoboHELP HTML Edition (2001, Sageline Publishing,

ISBN 0-9672570-4-2) and Teach Yourself Indexing for RoboHELP Classic (2000, Sageline Publishing,

ISBN 0-9672570-3-4), $55 each.

Sageline Publishing’s contact information:

Sageline Publishing Bootstrap Books™

502 Oella Avenue, Ellicott City, MD 21043

Voice: 410-465-5501 Fax: 410-465-5502

web: www.sageline.com

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Publications

Nancy C. Mulvany, Indexing Books (1994, The University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-55014-1), $32, but $22.40 on Amazon

The American Society of Indexers offers several publications on indexing through Information Today, Inc. Descriptions of the publications are available on the ASI website or from Information Today (http://www.infotoday.com).

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Indexing Listservs

The STC indexing SIG has its own listserv (see above, under SIGs).

To subscribe to Index-L, a general indexing chat list, send e-mail with the contents “subscribe INDEX-L [your name]” to [email protected]

IndexPeers

Indexers volunteer to review each other\'s edited indexes. To subscribe, go to groups.yahoo.com/group/IndexPeers. To contact the listowner, email [email protected]

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Surprise!

Mini-break here.

Stand up. Stretch. Etc.

Reconvene in 5 minutes

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Two Practicums

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Editing – more philosophy

Coughlin’s mini-theology of index editing:

The four deadly sins of editing:

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Fear

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Loathing

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Ignorance

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Sloth

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Or…

Coughlin’s epistemology of editing:

Editing is the imposition of explicit form on

the implicit architecture of the index.

The implicit architecture is inferred.

People are pattern-makers. What isn’t explicit will be deduced.

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Some Editing Conundrums

Time management

When does editing begin?

How do you know when you are done editing?

How do you preserve the same alertness and

focus throughout the whole index?

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Editing begins before you

type anything!

  • Look over the entire text.
  • Read the Preface and Introduction.
  • Look at the Contents.
  • You should begin to form an idea of the user/reader/audience and the scope of the subject area.

If you need to, find other works in the same

subject area and study their indexes. (Amazon,

Barnes and Noble, the local library are all great

resources.)

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Make sure you have asked the client about any

special requirements, like length restrictions,

use of special fonts (e.g., boldface for major

discussions), or t and f, etc.

See Intake Sheet sample in your handout.

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How do you know

you’re done editing?

The Deadline Is Here!

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Always edit the index!

  • Editing always requires:
  • Spell check
  • Verifying cross-references
  • Making double-posts consistent

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So…

Spell-check everything!

Verify see references to make sure they refer directly to an existing entry that is followed by page references and/or subentries. Do not use circular cross-references.

Verify that the terms in cross-references are identical to the entry to which they refer.

If you have double-posted, make sure that each posting has the same page references. Make sure that each posting has the same subentries.

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Editing may require:

  • Creating or deleting entries
  • Splitting or combining entries
  • Regrouping or rewording entries
  • Ensuring consistency of terminology
  • Adding new cross-references
  • Adjusting the length of the index
  • Formatting the index

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Creating and Deleting Entries

  • Check subentries to determine if they should also appear as main entries.
  • Check the number of page references following an entry. If there are more than 4 (5, 7), consider creating more specific subentries.
  • Make sure that cross-references are needed – if there are only a few page references involved, add them to the cross-referred term and delete the cross-reference.

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Creating and Deleting Entries

Check that there is at least one entry for each table, figure, map, or graph, and indicate the text element if the publisher requires it. (That is, 123t means a table on page 123, and 124f or 124 means a figure on page 124.)

Simplify long or elaborate subentries.

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Splitting/Combining Entries

Check subentries for slight variations in wording: if they are intentional, leave them; if the subentries can be combined, combine them. For example, entries under Heart and Cardiac should be combined.

Eliminate duplications caused by differences in capitalization.

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Splitting/Combining Entries

Combine subentries in an entry that appears over-analyzed. (Over-analyzed means there are many subentries with the same page locator or many subentries in a brief page range.)

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Regrouping or Rewording

You’ve indexed this passage in the text:

Two kinds of geckoes live in these highlands. On the tree trunks lives the Leaf-tailed Gecko. In day-time he is a mere mottled green smudge as he lies flattened against a giant tree trunk and is almost invisible. His fringed sides and broad tail do not even cast a tell-tale shadow and his huge lidless eyes are a maze of green and black squiggles which also match his surroundings. No bird or other predator has sight keen enough to detect him. As long as he does not move he is safe. – S. and K. Breeden, Wildlife of Eastern Australia

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Regrouping or Rewording

Your entries are:

Gecko

arboreal, 302

Leaf-tailed, 302

coloration, 302

habitat, 302

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Regrouping or Rewording

Later, the same book had this passage:

Chipmunks, however, are smaller, less plump and have stripes along the sides of their heads, which the ground squirrel lacks. The stripes down the backs of both the golden-mantled ground squirrel and the chipmunks serve to camouflage the animals from their numerous predators, blending with the irregular textures and broken patterns of light characteristic of the forest floor. – S. Whitney, A Sierra Club Naturalist’s Guide to the Western Sierra Nevada

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Regrouping or Rewording

In this case you made the entries:

Camouflage, 314

Chipmunk

coloration, 314

habitat, 314

Ground squirrel

coloration, 314

habitat, 314

Modifiers, dangling, 314

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Regrouping or Rewording

Your combined entries are (sorry, chipmunks):

Camouflage, 314

Gecko

arboreal, 302

Leaf-tailed, 302

coloration, 302

habitat, 302

Ground squirrel

coloration, 314

habitat, 314

Modifiers, dangling, 314

How would you edit this part of the index?

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An interlude

Here’s another passage in the same book:

There is almost no way to explain a takin. Part this, part that, it looks as if it humbly adopted all the attributes that other goats and antelopes refused. Ponderous and unwieldy, its heavy body sits on fat, stubby legs, and is covered with a dingy, drab coat. Its horns look like a cross between those of the gnu and the musk ox, and its face seems to have suffered a terrible accident, while the expression of its droopy lips makes one think it has been sucking a mixture of lemon and garlic. – E. J. Cronin, Jr., The Arun

What entries would you make?

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Consistent Terminology

You have the entry:

Bats

herbivorous, 32-45

plant-eating, 44-45

vegetarian, 55-56

How do you make your terminology consistent?

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New Cross-references

Say you have the entry Ecdysis, 111-14.

But you also have the entries

Insects

skin, shedding of, 112

Snakes

molting, 74-75

Striptease artists, 33-34

You might want to add the cross-reference:

Ecdysis. See also Snakes; Striptease artists

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Adjusting the Length

This almost always means cutting (decreasing)

the length of the index.

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Adjusting the Length

But, just in case they want you to increase the

index’s length, remark happily that many

members of your family want to be famous with

someone other than law enforcement, so you’ll

add their names to the index!

Seriously, my usual response is that in my

professional judgment, the text is well-served

by the index I created. Period.

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Shortening the Index

  • Check with the editor
    • How much needs to be cut?
    • Beg for more pages!
    • Can they use smaller type? Less space between groups? Use run-in style?
    • Can you elide page numbers?

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Shortening the Index

  • Eliminate sub-subentries?
  • Use see references instead of double-posting.
  • Take out acronyms and supply acronym only after its spell-out.
    • Delete: CMV. See Cytomegalovirus
    • Edit: Cytomegalovirus, 4-8

to read: Cytomegalovirus (CMV), 4-8

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Shortening the Index

  • Take out trade names of drugs, and supply trade name only after the generic name.
    • Delete: Valium. See Diazepam
    • Edit: Diazepam, 103-8

to read: Diazepam (Valium), 103-8

  • Eliminate all subentries that have only one page locator.
  • Rephrase (shorten) where possible.

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Shortening the Index

  • Leave out the letter L
  • Remember: Verify cross-references again!

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Some Indexing Hygiene

Check the reasonableness of page references (no “1222” in a book that has only 400 pages*; no illegal page ranges, such as 194-94 or 195-94, which can be forbidden in a CINDEX menu).

*CINDEX allows me to do this automatically, by searching on a pattern, [0-9][0-9][0-9][0-9]

and then [4-9][0-9][1-9] in the page field.

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Some Indexing Hygiene

Check for the pesky m that sneaks into page locator citations. The m key on the keyboard is the left-hand neighbor of the , (comma) key, and it’s easy to have an m creep into a comma’s place. The CINDEX pattern I search on is [0-9]m in the page field.

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More Indexing Hygiene

Have a system for eliminating typos that will get by your spell-checker. It’s easy to type if not of. It’s also very easy to type od or og, not of, so I have abbreviations (od and og) that spell out as of. I also have an abbreviation brian that spells out brain.

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More Indexing Hygiene

Check that fonts and typefaces used in the text are also applied in the index. For example, italicize the scientific (genus and species) names for bacteria, fungi, protozoa, parasites, animals, and plants. (Staphylococcus aureus, and Staphylococcus spp., but staphylococci.) Do not italicize the names of viruses!

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Index format includes

  • Symbols and special characters (coding for and sorting of)
  • Sort order (alphabetizing by letter or by word, placement of symbols at top of index?)
  • Placement of see and see also entries
  • Punctuation
  • Indented style (if so, em spaces or tabs for indent?) or
  • Run-in style
  • Special formats (e.g., SGML? HTML? PDF? RTF? Publishers may have special requirements.)

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Index format: Symbols

Symbols and special characters (coding for and sorting of):

Use small caps for dextro and levo configurations of carbohydrates and amino acids – D and L, respectively. Do not sort on D or L. L-Tryptophan and L-Dopa alphabetize under T and D, respectively.

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Index format: Symbols

Symbols and special characters (coding for and sorting of):

Other special characters that may be ignored are Greek letters and chemical prefixes (including lower-case italic letters and numerals). However, when Greek letters are spelled out, they’re alphabetized.

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Index format: Symbols

Decide how you’ll index symbols and be consistent!

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Index format: Sorting

Did you use the correct alphabetic sort? (Word by word or Letter by letter.)

Did you sort on leading prepositions, articles, and conjunctions, or, if the publisher prefers, did you ignore them?

Does the client want special characters and symbols sorted before the alphabetic sort?

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Index format:

Cross-references

Clients have different requirements for the placement of See and See also.

Directly after the main entry:

Ruminants, 401-534. See also

specific ruminant

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Index format:

Cross-references

Clients have different requirements for the placement of See and See also.

After the last subentry:

Ruminants, 401-534.

diet of, 403

habitats of, 404-500

life cycle of, 500-534

tooth morphology in, 401-403

See also specific ruminant

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Index format:

Cross-references

Clients also have different requirements for the punctuation of cross-references:

As I showed already, preceded by a period.

Ruminants, 401-534. See also specific ruminant

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Index format:

Cross-references

Clients also have different requirements for the punctuation of cross-references:

Or in parentheses

Ruminants, 401-534 (See also

specific ruminant)

Or lower-cased (see also), or in regular type (see also

specific ruminant), etc.

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Index format: Style

Did you use the correct style (run-in or indented)?

As I showed already, indented is:

Ruminants, 401-534. See also specific ruminant

diet of, 403

habitats of, 404-500

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Index format: Style

Did you use the correct style (run-in or indented)?

Run-in style is:

Ruminants, 401-534: diet of, 403; habitats of, 404-500; life cycle of, 500-534. See also specific ruminant

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Index format:

Electronic format

The electronic format of the index is the format used for the disk file of the index. Different clients have different preferences for electronic format (HTML, SGML, XML, RTF, etc.). Be sure to ask! Some clients also want tabs, not spaces, to mark the level of indention. Again, be sure to ask.

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Breaking the rules

“The Index to Recipes and Remedies” from The Cure for Death by Lightning, by Gail Anderson-Dargatz There’s a copy of this index in your handouts. What rules does this index break? Why is it still a good index?

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Breaking the rules

The index to Bumblebee Economics, by Berndt Heinrich There’s a copy of this index in your handouts. What’s “different” about this index? Why does it work?

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Specialized Editing

  • Editing another indexer’s work
  • Editing an index the author “revised”
  • Editing large indexes
  • Editing cumulated indexes

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Editing another

indexer’s work

First, scan the whole index.

  • Is it easy to read? Do the entries flow, or do you have to re-read them to make sense of them?
  • Are the important topics in the content emphasized?
  • Are the indexed terms appropriate for the intended readers/users?

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Editing another

indexer’s work

  • Is there a note explaining any special features of the index?
  • Are prepositions used consistently?
  • Is the level of detail consistent?
  • Is the length of the index appropriate?
  • Is the wording clear and succinct?
  • Did the indexer use specialized terminology correctly?

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Editing another

indexer’s work

You must:

  • Make a checklist of issues raised in your preliminary scan of the index and then solve them systematically.
  • Check that existing double-posts are exactly the same.
  • Check spelling.
  • Check whether cross-references have been provided and verify them.

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Editing another

indexer’s work

  • You may need to:
  • Add a note explaining any special features of the index.
  • Spot-check the accuracy of locators.
  • Rewrite entries to emphasize the keyword.

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Editing another

indexer’s work

  • You may need to:
  • Create subentries when a main entry has too many locators.
  • Add cross-references.
  • Add double-posts.
  • Check indexing hygiene.

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Editing another

indexer’s work

What if the index is really bad?

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Editing another

indexer’s work

In INDEXES: Writing, Editing, Production by Virginia S. Thatcher (1995, Scarecrow Press, Inc., available on Amazon), the author says, “An index that is to be salvaged should be given first aid, not major surgery.”

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Editing another

indexer’s work

Worst-case scenario: You may have to rework the electronic file of the index. First, split it into individual entries in page-number order. Then compare the entries to the page proof, while adding, deleting, or rewording entries as necessary.

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Editing another

indexer’s work

Finally, you should always spell-check the index and verify cross-references one last time after you’ve finished the editing. This will eliminate any errors you may have introduced.

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Editing the

author’s revisions

Thatcher warns, “the author’s changes may introduce serious defects in the index pattern: blind cross-references, inconsistent terminology changes, and pattern alterations that throw the index out of balance.” (p. 38)

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Editing the

author’s revisions

Thatcher prescribes that, “Every change made by an author should be verified by comparing it with the text.”

Indeed!

And, of course, the last step is to verify the cross-references, to eliminate errors introduced by an author.

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Editing large indexes

The problems in editing large indexes compiled by a single indexer (ideally, yourself) are mostly problems of scale. The tasks are magnified, but they’re basically the same as the general editing tasks already reviewed.

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Editing large indexes

The problems in editing large indexes compiled by a team of indexers (where each of several indexers has indexed a different part of the text) are problems of consistency.

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Editing large indexes

The editor of a multi-indexer index aims at achieving an internal consistency in the index, ideally in keeping with indexing guidelines that were determined before indexing commenced and that were supplied to each indexer on the team.

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Editing large indexes

  • The editor needs to pay particular attention to:
  • combining and cross-referencing entries for synonymous (or alternate) terms
  • consistent use of prepositions and conjunctions
  • consistency in the grammatical form of entries

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Editing large indexes

  • Consistency in the grammatical form of entries includes:
  • Nouns vs. gerunds (e.g., Profiling offenders vs. Profiles, of offenders)
  • Internal references (Slubberdegullion,defined, vs. Slubberdegullion, definition of)

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Editing large indexes

  • Consistency in the grammatical form of entries includes:
  • Phrases vs. single words with modifier (e.g., Consistent entries vs. Consistency, of entries)

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Editing large indexes

  • Consistency in the grammatical form of entries also includes:
  • Use of singular vs. plural vs. “(s)” terms (Jar-owl vs. Jar-owls vs. Jar-owl(s)). Ideally, a policy on regular plurals was given in the guidelines, but the editor has to be on the alert for irregulars (gumma vs. gummata or operculum vs. operculi, etc.).

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Cumulated indexes

  • Cumulated indexes are the combination of at least two, but often several, existing indexes (from different years, volumes, issues) into one index.
  • Cumulated indexes often present the biggest of all editing challenges.

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Cumulated indexes

First, you’ll need to have all the indexes that are going to be combined available to you in an electronic format you can use in your indexing software.

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Cumulated indexes

You may need to have print indexes scanned, typesetting files converted, some or all indexes re-keyed, or electronic index files sent from another indexer or the publisher. (Check all disks for viruses!)

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Cumulated indexes

Be sure to ascertain whether the locators in the cumulated index need volume and/or issue numbers added.

Fortunately, adding volume and issue numbers is an automatic function in dedicated indexing software, and you can prepare each index file before it’s merged into the cumulated index.

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Cumulated indexes

Once you have all the files in a form useful to your indexing software, with volume and/or issue numbers added to the locators if needed, choose one file as your “main” index.

Import the other files into your main index one at a time.

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Cumulated indexes

Each time you import an index, label all its entries in a color different from the color used in the main index, and then scan the entire conjoined index.

As you scan the index, note the kinds of problems and inconsistencies the conjoined index presents. Keep a checklist!

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Cumulated indexes

Ideally, you’ll have the original text to refer to when solving these problems.

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Cumulated indexes

For example, your cumulated file shows two adjacent entries, Mather, C. M., I:32-33, and Mather, Cotton, IV:45-48. To clarify whether they’re the same individual, you’ll need to consult the original text.

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Cumulated indexes

You’ll need to be on the look-out for imbalanced entries. For example, if you’re cumulating indexes from a series of books on small animal care, you may be faced with an entry that reads:

Cages, 45-47, 75-77, 95-97, 135-137

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Cumulated indexes

This entry:

Cages, 45-47, 75-77, 95-97, 135-137

is the composite of entries from the books on birds, mice, gerbils, and rabbits, respectively. In the original books, an unmodified entry for cages made sense, but the cumulated index needs modifiers.

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Cumulated indexes

You’ll need to change the entry to:

Cages

for birds, 45-47

for gerbils, 95-97

for mice, 75-77

for rabbits, 135-137

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Cumulated indexes

You’ll also need to double-post the entries:

Birds

cages for, 45-47

Gerbils

cages for, 95-97

Mice

cages for, 75-77

Rabbits

cages for, 135-137

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Cumulated indexes

This process will need to be repeated throughout the cumulated index, in order to account for the expanded information domain.

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Cumulated indexes

The cumulated index will also present inconsistencies in spelling, phrasing, terminology, double-posting, and cross-referencing.

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Cumulated indexes

Have a system for attacking these problems. Generally, my system is:

1. Review each new index as it’s imported into the main index.

2. List types of problems noted.

3. Verify cross-references and print out list of missing, circular, or illegal cross-references.

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Cumulated indexes

4. Generate and print an authority file (a file consisting of just main entries and cross-references).

5. Scan the authority file and solve obvious problems (e.g., singular vs. plural). This should eliminate some of the cross-reference problems. Cross them off the print-out.

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Cumulated indexes

6. Pick the letter with the most entries and edit it from start to finish. (The worst is over now!)

7. Edit the index from beginning to end.

8. Spell-check.

9. Verify again.

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Thank you

Questions?

My e-mail address is

[email protected]

This presentation will be available on our website, http://indexing.com, after November 1 as Seattle02.

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