Archive for October, 2014

Elegance in a Quality Scholarly Index

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

A quality scholarly index must be accurate, consistent, comprehensive, concise, readable, reflexive, audience-sensitive and elegant.  In the last few blog postings, I have discussed accuracy, consistency, comprehensiveness, conciseness, readability, reflexivity, and audience-sensitivity.  In the final blog posting of this series, I will focus on elegance as a factor in a quality scholarly index.

This is an elusive, but integral, characteristic of a quality scholarly index.  How might we define elegance in an index?  Webster’s dictionary refers to elegance as “refined grace or dignified propriety; … tasteful richness of design or ornamentation; … dignified gracefulness or restrained beauty of style; … scientific precision, neatness, and simplicity.”  The idea of elegance incorporates restraint and ornamentation, precision and richness, simplicity and neatness.  Indeed, elegance is a balance of art and science.

Elegance shines through in many ways: in structure, conciseness, comprehensiveness, readability, in the language itself – in all the factors that make up a quality scholarly index.  Of course, it helps to have an elegantly written text to index.  That may make the accomplishment of elegance easier.  But the indexer can also create an elegant index from a mediocre text.

This concludes the series on factors comprising a quality scholarly index.  For more information on elegance in a quality scholarly index, see the article by Margie Towery, “The Quality of a Scholarly Index: A Contribution to the Discourse,” Indexing Specialties: Scholarly Books, Information Today, Inc., Medford, NJ, 2005, pp.81-94.

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