Archive for May, 2010

Glossary v. Index

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Why are index entries in the plural and glossary entries in the singular?  A glossary is a collection of difficult or specialized terms with their meanings, but each entry is in the singular.  An index, as we have discussed, is an alphabetical list of items treated in a printed work with the page numbers where each item may be found, but subject entries are in the plural.

The plural may be used for subject entries in the index because the subject may be referenced multiple times in the text.  By using the plural, the index also shows the more general nature of the subject.  Whereas, a reader might only look up a glossary entry once, needing the definition for a single instance.  A glossary entry reflects the singular nature of the subject.  For example, a subject entry in an index might list Conferences, but in a glossary it would be, Conference.

It is important for an indexer to understand the difference between glossaries and indexes, as well as the value of each.

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