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Practical ideas for indexing books, technical documentation and websites.

 
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violinPublished articles

Indexing without Context: Some Thoughts about the New World of DITA and Content Management Systems [PDF 110 KB]

This article examines issues about how the DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) standard for content management systems affects “context” in the indexing process and how these issues can be addressed using controlled vocabulary.

Published in KeyWords, April/June, 2008, American Society for Indexing.

Metadata Goes Mainstream [PDF 280 KB]

Metadata from the world of librarians and database searching is moving to center stage in our everyday lives. And the metadata “revolution” is coming to us through pictures—those cute, happy, funny shots of kids, parents, neighbors and workmates that we love to share and post on the internet.

Published in the KnowGenesis IJTC, Volume 2, Issue 1, March 2007.

Quality Criteria for Indexes, Website Navigation and Search [PDF 980 KB]

When users find the answers they are looking for, the investment in technical documentation gets a chance to pay off. In large volumes of technical information, just finding the answer can be half the battle. Microsoft found that users of its intranet were spending an average of 2.5 hours per day online - 50% of that being searching.

This article was written as part of an experimental online workshop with the MITWA (Mentors, Indexers, Technical Writers & Associates) discussion group(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MITWA/). The article retains the workshop format including learning assignments.

Published in the KnowGenesis IJTC, Volume 1, Issue 3, September 2006.

Indexing with Open Source Tools [PDF 264 KB]

Provides a generic specification—with reasons—to open source developers for creating useful indexing facilities in packages such as OpenOffice and Scribus. It also informs writers about what to look for and what to ask for in any indexing tool. Finally, the article demonstrates the need for software developers to work closely with practitioners and users.

Published in the KnowGenesis IJTC, Vol. 1, Issue 2, June 2006.

Web Indexing Uncovers a Treasure Trove of Information [PDF 24 KB]

Explains how the web index to the Writer's Block magazine was created.

Published in Stimulus, September 2003, Society for Technical Communication, Eastern Ontario Chapter.

Indexing Workshops for Technical Writers [PDF 63 KB]

Technical writers, who are often expected to provide indexes for their publications, benefit from courses that focus on the principles underlying good indexes. Structured around practical, interactive exercises, workshops that create learning situations that engage their interests are successful in helping technical communicators develop basic understanding and skills.

Published in The Indexer, April 2003, the The Society of Indexers.

Think Macros! — cool tricks to save time and cut the “wear and tear”

Some quick tips to speed indexing or any repetitive activity on the computer.

Published in the Bulletin, Indexing Society of Canada, Autumn 2002.

Editing Indexes

Provides an editing checklist: main entries, synonyms, number of undifferentiated page references, number of subheadings following a main entry, parallel structure in subheadings, double-posted headings, cross-references, alphabetization of subheadings, capitalization, pluralization and spelling, personal and geographic names, page references are accurate, and mechanics for an online index.

Published in The Technical Editor, March 1999, Institute of Technical Editors. Updated June, 2007.

Vocabulary Links:// Thesaurus Design for Information Systems — seminar by Dr. Bella Hass Weinberg

Examines how to organize and search large bodies of online information such as databases, help systems and knowledge bases.

Published in KeyWords, November/ December, 1998, American Society for Indexing.

Indexing on the Edge

A story of survival during the Great Ice Storm that covered Eastern Ontario and the North-Eastern United States during the winter of 1998.

Posted to INDEX-L, January 9, 1998.

Electronic Media and the Future of Indexing

Explores the implications of indexing in different media and summarizes the discussion in relation to technical documentation. CD-ROM, online help and the Internet pose formidable challenges for users trying to locate answers to their questions. Electronic media bring together an ever-increasing volume of information that cannot be searched by simply flipping the pages.

Published in Stimulus, September 1995, Society for Technical Communication, Eastern Ontario Chapter. 

violinAllegro Time!

Allegro Time! is no longer being published. Topics covered included print manuals, online help keywords, single-source publishing, multimedia and the Internet.

2003

Web Indexing: explains a simple way to make information on a web site easier to find.

Finding Information in Different Ways: shows how an index can provide multiple routes for locating information.

2002

Gathering Together: shows how an index brings scattered references together.

Embedding Indexes in FrameMaker: explains how to enter standard index headings, page ranges as well as "See" and "See also" references.

Indexing Acronyms: explains how to handle both acronyms and the full spelled-out terms.

Converting Indexes with WebWorks Publisher: provides some tips on how to create single source indexes with WWP and FrameMaker.

Single Source Indexes: outlines the major issues in creating for indexes for documents published in a number of different formats.

Indexing Names: summarizes the rules for correctly handling personal and geographic names.

Checking Cross-references: explains how to be sure that your "See" and "See also" references give good directions.

2001

Indexing with Microsoft Word: explains how to create an embedded index in Microsoft Word.

Just-in-time Indexing: explains how to deliver a high quality index in sync with the final, camera ready book or manual.

Subheadings: explains how to create effective subheadings.

Indexing in DocBook XML: explains how to embed an index in a DocBook XML document.

Indexing User Tasks: explains how to create index headings that assist the user to find task-related information in modern "task-based" documentation.

Great Indexes: provides criteria for judging an index.

Keywords Online: answers the question, "Are online indexes a list of keywords to search or something different?"

Value of Indexing: quotes that demonstrate the usefulness of indexes.

Synonyms: how including synonyms can improve usability.

Embedded vs. Stand-alone Indexes: when to use different types of indexes.

Preparing to Index: how to get started successfully on writing an index.

Alphabetizing an Index: how to make it easier for users to locate particular index entries.

2000

Formatting Indexes: tips on how to make your index more readable.
"See also" Cross-references: how to assist the user navigate quickly to the right index entry.

Objects, Tasks and Concepts: how using building blocks from the user's environment will lay the foundation for an effective index.

Indexing in FrameMaker — Challenges and Opportunities: what you can achieve from indexing in FrameMaker.
Why an Index?: what indexes can do for you and your end-users.


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