Archive for September, 2016

Multiple Entry Points

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Multiple Entry Points

Variants and Cross-References in Indexes and Thesauri

This session was held on Friday, June 17, 2016 at the American Society for Indexing/Indexing Society of Canada Annual Conference in Chicago by Heather Hedden, Senior Vocabulary Editor, and John Magee, Director, Indexing and Vocabulary Services, Gale/Cengage Learning.  Each has worked there since the 1990s (Ms. Hedden with a break of 10 years.)  Each has experience with back-of-the-book indexing, periodical/database indexing, and thesaurus development for database indexing.

Multiple Entry Points Defined: Synonyms or roughly equivalent concepts (not just words), for the context.

Purpose: To capture different wordings of how different people might describe or look up the same concept or idea.

  • Differences between that of the author and the user/reader
  • Differences among different users/readers

A concept may have any number of (multiple) entry points, or it may have only a single entry name.  Multiple entry points can point to the preferred entry/term, or they can point directly to the content.


Back-of-the-book indexing requires the indexer to additionally come up with (invent) all of the index terms and their variants and arrange them into an index. Double posts and See references are the two types of multiple entry points for back-of-the-book indexing.

Double Posts

Multiple entries that refer to the same concept/name/topic/idea with the same locators.  These are desirable for many entries, but not all.  Although, called “double” posts, can be for three or more.  Use double posts instead of See reference, for entries with no subentries.

Double post examples:

Film reviews, 162-166,173

Movie reviews,162-166,173

Ethics of communication, 113-114

Communication ethics, 113-114

See references

Entries that point to another entry, to use instead.  Locators are at the referred entry only.  Used instead of double posts when entries have subentries, and it is undesirable to repeat all subentries.  So it saves space.

See reference examples:

arms purchases. See weapons purchases

labor unions. See unions, labor


A thesaurus is a kind of controlled vocabulary that has multiple entry points and structure.  Multiple entry points are “equivalent” terms, with a nonpreferred term pointing to a preferred term.

Standard thesaurus notation: USE / UF (Used for or Used from)

Preferred term USE Nonpreferred term

Nonpreferred term UF Preferred term

Public procurement USE Government purchasing

Government purchasing UF Public procurement

Eskimos USE Inuit

Inuit UF Eskimos


In future blog postings I will discuss other sessions from the American Society for Indexing Annual Conference in Chicago.  For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website,