To begin, ask yourself these questions.
Is it easy to read the index? Do the words flow in sentence-like style or do you have to back up and reread the entry? Point out some entries that work especially well.
Who are the probable readers for this book? What kind of appropriate language has the indexer used? Point out some entries that indicate this audience.
What are the are the most important topics? What has the indexer done to emphasize the importance of these topics? Choose several entries that demonstrate this technique.
What are the inter-connected discussions in the book? What has the indexer done to gather these connections? Choose several entries that point the reader to these relationships.
a) Is the information widely scattered throughout the book? If so, choose several entries that indicate this characteristic of the book. b) Is the information presented in small, discrete discussions in the book? If so, choose several entries that indicate this pattern.
Has the indexer given you more than one route to the information in the book? Select a main entry and think of synonyms and similar phrases. Can you find any of them in the index?
a) What do the cross references tell you about the book? Why did the indexer use them? b) What do the double posts tell you about the book? Why did the indexer use them instead of a cross reference?
In all of the above discussions, remember the basics of indexing…
- Point the reader to the information that is in the author’s voice, rather than writing the book in the index.
- Capture the “aboutness” of the discussions.
- Write clear and succinct entries.
- Gather related material.
- Create subentries when there are too many locators.
- Use cross references to point the reader to similar information.
- Use cross references to reflect the author’s language.
- Use double posts if they are space efficient.
- Use the keyword first as much as possible.
- Prepositions, when required for clarity, should be read “forwards and backwards” to be sure they are not confusing.
- Be accurate with all locators.
- Be consistent with the level of detail that you choose to index.
Remember the 339 other guidelines that are not listed here.
With thanks to Sherry Smith and Phyllis Linn