Do you have any guidelines for creating an index?
They are in the course materials, but I haven’t yet added them to the style guide (next edition, I promise). There’s more to creating a good index than most realise: it takes careful planning. The key guidelines are:
- Scan the document from cover to cover and create a keyword list.
- Sort the list and remove duplicates. In particular, watch for singular-plural pairs (method, methods). Use the form that best suits the context.
- Standardise the tense of verbs (notify, notifying) and nominalisations (notifications). Use the form that best suits the context. The key is consistency.
- Remove capitalisation unless a proper noun or, if you are writing a user guide, literals (labels capitalised in the user interface).
- Look for groups of keywords that can be associated under a common keyword (e.g. properties: page; text, image; object).
- Invert keyword groups so there are two entries for each grouped keyword (e.g. properties: image and image: properties or image properties)
- When you have finished prepared your keyword list, return to the document and review each topic and tag with the appropriate keywords.
- Finally build your index and review it carefully. In MS Word, you can Ctrl-click the index entry and it takes you straight to the tag.
October 8, 2015 / Tim McAuley / 0