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An '' 'index (plural: usually indexes, more rarely indices; see below) is a list of words or phrases ('headings') and associated pointers ('locators') to where useful material relating to that heading can be found in a document or collection of documents. Examples are an index in the
back matter Book design is the art of incorporating the content, style, Word processor, format, design, and sequence of the various components and elements of a book into a coherent unit. In the words of renowned typographer Jan Tschichold (1902–1974), book d ...
of a
book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. The conc ...

book
and an index that serves as a
library catalog A library catalog (or library catalogue in British English) is a register of all bibliographic items found in a library or group of libraries, such as a network of libraries at several locations. A catalog for a group of libraries is also cal ...
. In a traditional back-of-the-book index, the headings will include names of people, places, events, and concepts selected by the indexer as being relevant and of interest to a possible reader of the book. The indexer may be the author, the editor, or a professional indexer working as a third party. The pointers are typically page numbers, paragraph numbers or section numbers. In a
library catalog A library catalog (or library catalogue in British English) is a register of all bibliographic items found in a library or group of libraries, such as a network of libraries at several locations. A catalog for a group of libraries is also cal ...
the words are authors, titles, subject headings, etc., and the pointers are call numbers. Internet
search engines A search engine is a software system that is designed to carry out web searches (Internet searches), which means to search the World Wide Web upright=1.35, A global map of the web index for countries in 2014 The World Wide Web (WWW), ...
(such as
Google Google LLC is an American Multinational corporation, multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising, online advertising technologies, a search engine, cloud comp ...

Google
) and full-text searching help provide access to information but are not as selective as an index, as they provide non-relevant links, and may miss relevant information if it is not phrased in exactly the way they expect. Perhaps the most advanced investigation of problems related to book indexes is made in the development of
topic maps Image:TopicMapKeyConcepts2.PNG, thumb A topic map is a standard for the knowledge representation, representation and knowledge transfer, interchange of knowledge, with an emphasis on the findability of information. Topic maps were originally develo ...
, which started as a way of representing the knowledge structures inherent in traditional back-of-the-book indexes. The
concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas or general notions that occur in the mind, in speech, or in thought. They are understood to be the fundamental building blocks of thoughts and belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that ...
embodied by book indexes lent its name to
database index A database index is a data structure that improves the speed of data retrieval operations on a database table at the cost of additional writes and storage space to maintain the index data structure. Indexes are used to quickly locate data without ...
es, which similarly provide an abridged way to look up information in a larger collection, albeit one for computer use rather than human use.


Earliest examples in English

In the English language, indexes have been referred to as early as 1593, as can be seen from lines in
Christopher Marlowe Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe (; Baptism, baptised 26 February 156430 May 1593), was an English playwright, poet and Translation, translator of the Elizabethan era. Marlowe is among the most famous of the English Renaissance ...

Christopher Marlowe
's ''
Hero and Leander up William Tell, a popular folk hero of Switzerland. A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage or Physical strength ...
'' of that year: ''Therefore, even as an index to a book''
''So to his mind was young Leander's look.'' A similar reference to indexes is in
Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one of the world's greatest dramatists. He is often called ...

Shakespeare
's lines from ''
Troilus and Cressida ''Troilus and Cressida'' () is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and o ...
'' (I.3.344), written nine years later: ''And in such indices, althougo small pricks''
''To their subsequent volumes, there is seen''
''The baby figure of the giant mass''
''Of things to come at large.'' But according to G. Norman Knight, "at that period, as often as not, by an 'index to a book' was meant what we should now call a table of contents."Knight, G. Norman (1979) ''Indexing, the Art of: A Guide to the Indexing of Books and Periodicals'' (HarperCollins), pp. 17–18 Until about the end of the nineteenth century, books, fiction as well as non-fiction, sometimes had very detailed chapter titles, which could be several sentences long. Among the first indexes – in the modern sense – to a book in the English language was Leonard Mascall's "A booke of the arte and maner how to plant and graffe all sortes of trees" printed in 1575. Another was one in
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46–after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonism, Middle Platonist philosopher, historian, Biography, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo (Delphi), Temple of ...

Plutarch
's ''
Parallel Lives Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46–after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonism, Middle Platonist philosopher, historian, Biography, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo (Delphi ...
'', in Sir
Thomas North Sir Thomas North (28 May 1535c. 1604) was an English translator, military officer, lawyer, and justice of the peace. His translation into English of Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46–after A ...

Thomas North
's 1595 translation. A section entitled "An Alphabetical Table of the most material contents of the whole book" may be found in
Henry Scobell Henry Scobell (baptised 1610; died 1660) was an English Parliamentary official, and editor of official publications. He was clerk to the Long Parliament The Long Parliament was an Parliament of England, English Parliament which lasted from 1 ...
's ''Acts and Ordinances of Parliament'' of 1658. This section comes after "An index of the general titles comprised in the ensuing Table". Both of these indexes predate the index to
Alexander Cruden Alexander Cruden (31 May 16991 November 1770) was the Scottish author of an early concordance (publishing), concordance to the Bible, a proofreader and publisher, and self-styled Corrector of the nation's morals. Early life and career Alexander ...
's ''Concordance'' (1737), which is erroneously held to be the earliest index found in an English book.


Etymology and plural

The word is derived from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
, in which ''index'' means "one who points out", an "indication", or a "
forefinger The index finger (also referred to as forefinger, first finger, pointer finger, trigger finger, digitus secundus, digitus II, and many other terms) is the second finger of a human hand A hand is a prehensile, multi- fingered appendage locat ...

forefinger
". In Latin, the plural form of the word is ''indices''. In English, the plural "indices" is commonly used in
mathematical Mathematics (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 ...
and computing contexts, and sometimes in bibliographical contexts – for example, in the 17-volume '' Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia'' (1999–2002). However, this form is now seen as an archaism by many writers and commentators, who prefer the anglicised plural "indexes". "Indexes" is widely used in the publishing industry; in the International Standard
ISO 999 ISO 999 (Information and documentation—Guidelines for the content, organization and presentation of indexes) is an ISO standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal ...
, ''Information and documentation – Guidelines for the content, organization and presentation of indexes''; and is preferred by the '' Oxford Style Manual''. ''
The Chicago Manual of Style ''The Chicago Manual of Style'' (abbreviated in writing as ''CMOS'' or ''CMS'', or sometimes as ''Chicago'') is a style guide for American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English ...
'' allows both forms. G. Norman Knight quotes
Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one of the world's greatest dramatists. He is often called ...

Shakespeare
's lines from ''
Troilus and Cressida ''Troilus and Cressida'' () is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and o ...
'' (I.3.344) – "And in such indexes ..." – and comments: "But the real importance of this passage is that it establishes for all time the correct literary plural; we can leave the Latin form "indices" to the mathematicians (and similarly "appendices" to the anatomists)."


Indexing process


Conventional indexing

The indexer reads through the text, identifying indexable concepts (those for which the text provides useful information and which will be of relevance for the text's readership). The indexer creates index headings to represent those concepts, which are phrased such that they can be found when in alphabetical order (so, for example, one would write 'indexing process' rather than 'how to create an index'). These headings and their associated locators (indicators to position in the text) are entered into specialist
indexing softwareIndexing software are computer software programs in form of application which help to build a book index. Features There are several methodologies for indexing: * Embedded indexing includes the index headings in the midst of the text itself, but ...
which handles the formatting of the index and facilitates the editing phase. The index is then edited to impose consistency throughout the index. Indexers must analyze the text to enable presentation of concepts and ideas in the index that may not be named within the text. The index is intended to help the reader, researcher, or information professional, rather than the author, find information, so the professional indexer must act as a liaison between the text and its ultimate user. In the United States, according to tradition, the index for a non-fiction book is the responsibility of the author, but most authors don't actually do it. Most indexing is done by freelancers hired by authors, publishers or an independent business which manages the production of a book, publishers or book packagers. Some publishers and database companies employ indexers. Before indexing software existed, indexes were created using slips of paper or, later,
index card . This type of cataloging has mostly been supplanted by computerization. Image:notecard.jpg, 200px, A ruled index card An index card (or record card in British English and system cards in Australian English) consists of card stock (heavy paper) ...
s. After hundreds of such slips or cards were filled out (as the indexer worked through the pages of the book proofs), they could then be shuffled by hand into alphabetical order, at which point they served as
manuscript A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document written by hand – or, once practical typewriters became available, typewritten — as opposed to mechanically printing, printed or reproduced in s ...

manuscript
to be typeset into the printed index.


Indexing software

Software is available to aid the indexer in building a book index. There are several dedicated indexing software programs available to assist with the special sorting and copying needs involved in index preparation.


Embedded indexing

Embedded indexing involves including the index headings in the midst of the text itself, but surrounded by codes so that they are not normally displayed. A usable index is then generated automatically from the embedded text using the position of the embedded headings to determine the locators. Thus, when the pagination is changed the index can be regenerated with the new locators.
LaTeX LaTeX ( or , often stylized as LaTeX) is a software system for document preparation. When writing, the writer uses plain text as opposed to the formatted text found in WYSIWYG, "What You See Is What You Get" word processors like Microsoft Word, ...

LaTeX
documents support embedded indexes primarily through the MakeIndex package. Several widely used
XML Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding document A document is a writing, written, drawing, drawn, presented, or memorialized representation of thought, often the manifestation of nonficti ...

XML
DTDs, including
DocBook DocBook is a Semantics (computer science), semantic markup language for technical documentation. It was originally intended for writing technical documents related to computer hardware and software, but it can be used for any other sort of document ...
and , have elements that allow index creation directly in the XML files. Most word processing software, such as StarWriter/,
Microsoft Word Microsoft Word is a word processing software developed by Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation, multinational technology company with headquarters in Redmond, Washington. It develops, manufactures, li ...
, and
WordPerfect WordPerfect (WP) is a word processing application, now owned by Corel, with a long history on multiple personal computer platforms. At the height of its popularity in the 1980s and early 1990s, it was the dominant player in the word processor mark ...
, as well as some desktop publishing software (for example, and
InDesign Adobe InDesign is a desktop publishing Desktop publishing (DTP) is the creation of documents using page layout software on a personal ("desktop") personal computer, computer. It was first used almost exclusively for print publications, but now ...
), as well as other tools (for example, MadCap Software's Flare), have some facility for embedded indexing as well. TExtract and IndexExploit support embedded indexing of Microsoft Word documents. An embedded index requires more time to create than a conventional static index; however, an embedded index can save time in the long run when the material is updated or repaginated. This is because, with a static index, if even a few pages change, the entire index must be revised or recreated while, with an embedded index, only the pages that changed need updating or indexing.


Purpose

Indexes are also designed to help the reader find information quickly and easily. A complete and truly useful index is not simply a list of the words and phrases used in a publication (which is properly called a concordance), but an organized map of its contents, including
cross-referenceThe abbrevation Xref can refer also to External Reference The term cross-reference (abbreviation: xref) can refer to either: * An instance within a document which refers to related information elsewhere in the same document. In both printed and on ...
s, grouping of like concepts, and other useful intellectual analysis. Sample back-of-the-book index excerpt: :sage, 41–42. ''See also'' Herbs ← directing the reader to related terms :Scarlet Sages. ''See'' ''Salvia coccinea'' ← redirecting the reader to term used in the text :shade plants ← grouping term (may not appear in the text; may be generated by indexer) ::hosta, 93 ← subentries ::myrtle, 46 ::Solomon's :sunflower, 47 ← regular entry In books, indexes are usually placed near the end (this is commonly known as "BoB" or back-of-book indexing). They complement the
table of contents Table may refer to: * Table (information), a data arrangement with rows and columns * Table (furniture), a piece of furniture with a flat top and one or more legs * Table (database) * Calligra Tables, a spreadsheet application * Mathematical tab ...
by enabling access to information by specific subject, whereas contents listings enable access through broad divisions of the text arranged in the order they occur. It has been remarked that, while " first glance the driest part of the book, on closer inspection the index may provide both interest and amusement from time to time."


Index quality

Some principles of good indexing include: * Ensuring each topic/section includes a variety of relevant index entries; use two or three entries per topic * Understanding the audience and understand what kind of index entries they're likely to look for * Use the same form throughout (singular vs. plural, capitalisation, etc.), using standard indexing conventions Indexing pitfalls: * Significant topics with no index entries at all * Indexing 'mere mentions': "But John Major was no Winston Churchill..." indexed under 'Churchill, Winston' * Circular cross-references: 'Felidae. ''See'' Cats'; 'Cats. ''See'' Felidae' * References to discussions of a single topic scattered among several main headings: 'Cats, 50–62'; 'Felidae, 175–183' * Inconsistently indexing similar topics * Confusing similar names: Henry V of England, Henri V of France * Incorrect alphabetization: 'α-Linolenic acid' under 'A' instead of 'L' * Inappropriate inversions: 'processors, word' for 'word processors' * Inappropriate subheadings: 'processors: food, 213–6; word, 33–7' * Computer indexing from section headings: e.g. 'Getting to know your printer' under 'G'


Indexer roles

Some indexers specialize in specific formats, such as scholarly books, microforms,
web indexing Web indexing, or internet indexing, comprises methods for indexing the contents of a website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a common domain name and published on at l ...
(the application of a back-of-book-style index to a
website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a common domain name and published on at least one web server. Notable examples are wikipedia, wikipedia.org, google, google.com, and Am ...

website
or
intranet An intranet is a computer network A computer network is a group of computers that use a set of common communication protocols over digital signal, digital interconnections for the purpose of sharing resources located on or provided by the No ...

intranet
),
search engine indexingSearch engine optimisation indexing is the collecting, parsing, and storing of data to facilitate fast and accurate information retrieval. Index design incorporates interdisciplinary concepts from linguistics, cognitive psychology, mathematics, inf ...
, database indexing (the application of a pre-defined
controlled vocabulary Controlled vocabularies provide a way to organize knowledge for subsequent retrieval. They are used in subject indexing schemes, subject headings, thesaurus (information retrieval), thesauri, Taxonomy (general), taxonomies and other knowledge orga ...
such as
MeSH A mesh is a barrier made of connected strands of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appearan ...
to articles for inclusion in a database), and periodical indexing (indexing of newspapers, journals, magazines). Some indexers with expertise in controlled vocabularies also work as
taxonomists In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...
and . Some indexers specialize in particular subject areas, such as anthropology, business, computers, economics, education, government documents, history, law, mathematics, medicine, psychology, and technology. An indexer can be found for any subject.


References in popular culture

In "
The Library of Babel "The Library of Babel" (original Spanish title: La biblioteca de Babel) is a short story A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked inciden ...
", a short story by
Jorge Luis Borges Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (; ; 24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986) was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in Spanish literature, Spanish-language and universal literature. His best- ...

Jorge Luis Borges
, there is an index of indexes that catalogues all of the books in the library, which contains all possible books.
Kurt Vonnegut Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (; November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American writer. In a career spanning over 50 years, he published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five nonfiction works, with further collections being p ...

Kurt Vonnegut
's novel ''
Cat's Cradle ''Cat's Cradle'' is a satirical postmodern novel, with science fiction elements, by American writer Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut's fourth novel, it was first published in 1963, exploring and satirizing issues of science, technology, the purpose of ...
'' includes a character who is a professional indexer and believes that "indexing a thing that only the most amateurish author ndertakesto do for his own book." She claims to be able to read an author's character through the index he created for his own history text, and warns the narrator, an author, "Never index your own book." Vladimir Nabokov's novel ''Pale Fire'' includes a parody of an index, reflecting the insanity of the narrator. Mark Danielewski's novel ''House of Leaves'' contains an exhaustive 41 page index of words in the novel, including even large listings for inconsequential words such as ''the'', ''and'', and ''in''. J. G. Ballard's "The Index" is a short story told through the form of an index to an "unpublished and perhaps suppressed" autobiography.


Standards

*
ISO 999 ISO 999 (Information and documentation—Guidelines for the content, organization and presentation of indexes) is an ISO standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal ...
:1996 Guidelines for the Content, Organization, and Presentation of Indexes (this is also the national standard in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand)


Societies

Th
American Society for Indexing, Inc.
(ASI) is a national association founded in 1968 to promote excellence in indexing and increase awareness of the value of well-designed indexes. ASI serves indexers, librarians, abstractors, editors, publishers, database producers, data searchers, product developers, technical writers, academic professionals, researchers and readers, and others concerned with indexing. It is the only professional organization in the United States devoted solely to the advancement of indexing, abstracting and related methods of information retrieval. Other similar societies include: * Association of Southern African Indexers and Bibliographers (ASAIB) * Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers * British Record Society * China Society of Indexers * German Network of Indexers/Deutsches Netzwerk der Indexer (DNI) * Indexing Society of Canada/Société canadienne d'indexation (ISC/SCI) * Nederlands Indexers Netwerk (NIN) * Society of Indexers


See also

* Concordance (publishing) * Indexing and abstracting service * Subject (documents) * Subject indexing * Table of contents * Web indexing


References


Further reading

* Booth, Pat (2001) ''Indexing: The Manual of Good Practice'' (K. G. Saur), * Borko, Harold & Bernier, Charles L. (1978) ''Indexing Concepts and Methods'', * Browne, Glenda and Jermey, Jon (2007), ''The Indexing Companion'' (Cambridge University Press), * Diodato, V. (1994). User preferences for features in back of book indexes. Journal of the American Society for Information Science. 45(7), 529–536. * Diodato, V. & Gandt, G. (1991). Back of book indexes and the characteristics of author and nonauthor indexing: Report of an exploratory study. Journal of the American Society for Information Science. 42(5), 341–350. * Enser, P. G. B. (1985). Automatic classification of book material represented by back-of-the-book index. Journal of Documentation. 41(3), 135–155. * Fugmann, R. (2006). Das Buchregister Methodische Grundlagen und praktische Anwendung. Frankfurt am Main : DGI. (DGI Schrift; Informationswissenschaft – 10). * Grosch, A. N. (1986). Index-aid: Computer assisted back-of-the-book indexing. Electronic Library. 4(5), 278–280. * Hornyak, B. (2002). Indexing Specialties: Psychology. Medford, NJ : Information Today, Inc. * Kendrick, P. & Zafran, E. L. (Eds.). (2001). Indexing Specialties: Law. Medford, NJ : Information Today, Inc. * Mulvany, Nancy (2005) ''Indexing Books'', 2nd ed. (University of Chicago Press) * School of Library, archival and information studies, The University of British Columbia. Indexing resources on the WWW. Back-of-the-Book indexing. Hentet fra: https://web.archive.org/web/20140805233922/http://www.slais.ubc.ca/resources/indexing/backof2.htm * Schütze, H. (1998). The Hypertext Concordance: A Better Back-of-the-Book Index. I: Proceedings of Computerm ´98 (Montreal, Canada, 1998). D. Bourigault, C. Jacquemin, and M.-C. L´Homme, Eds., pp. 101–104. * Smith, Sherry & Kells, Kari (2005) ''Inside Indexing: the Decision-Making Process'' (Northwest Indexing Press), * Stauber, Do Mi (2004) ''Facing the Text: Content and Structure in Book Indexing'' (Cedar Row Press) * Towery, M. (Ed.). (1998). Indexing Specialties: History. Medford, NJ : Information Today, Inc. * Wellisch, Hans (1995) ''Indexing from A to Z'', 2nd ed. (H. W. Wilson) * Wellisch, Hans, H. (1986). "The Oldest Printed Indexes." ''The Indexer'' vol 15 no 2 October., pp. 1–10. * Witty, F. J. (1965). Early indexing techniques. ''Library Quarterly 35,'' 141–148. * Witty, F. J. (1973). Beginnings of indexing and abstracting: some notes towards a history of indexing and abstracting in antiquity and the Middle Ages. ''The Indexer : Journal of the Society of Indexers.'', 8, 193–198. * Wu, Z. etc. (2013). Can Back-of-the-Book Indexes be Automatically Created? In Proceedings of CIKM 2013. San Francisco, CA, USA. * Wyman, L. P. (Ed.). (1999). Indexing Specialities: Medicine. Medford, NJ : Information Today, Inc.


External links


The Indexer (the international journal)



Usability studies for indexes



"The Definite Article: Acknowledging 'The' in Index Entries
, Glenda Browne, The Indexer, vol. 22, no. 3 April 2001, pp. 119–22.
The role of indexing in technical communication






{{Authority control Index (publishing), Book publishing Book terminology Book design Information science Publishing