Archive for October, 2011

Special Topics on Alphabetizing in Indexes

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

When articles, conjunctions, or prepositions appear as the first term in a main heading, the phrase is probably a title of a book, an article, a play, or a painting.  If the first term is an article, such as A or The, the term is not alphabetized.  For example, the book title A Tale of Two Cities would appear in the T‘s, sorted on Tale.  The actual entry could appear in the T‘s in one of three ways:

Tale of Two Cities, A

A Tale of Two Cities

Tale of Two Cities

In the last example above, the A has been dropped completely from the entry.  The practice is common and preferred when it is necessary to economize on the length of index entries.

If the first term in a main heading is a preposition or conjunction, the term is alphabetized.  For example, the book title Of Mice and Men appears in the O‘s, sorted on Of.

If a conjunction, preposition, or article appears in any other position besides as the first term in an entry, it is always alphabetized.  The and in the phrase “dogs and cats” is alphabetized.

For more information, refer to Nancy C. Mulvany’s Indexing Books, Second Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.  For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website,