Archive for April, 2017

Characteristics of Successful Subheadings

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

In this blog posting, I will discuss characteristics of successful subheadings, based on an American Society for Indexing webinar given by Fred Leise on September 17, 2014.

Subheadings need to exactly and concisely capture the concept under discussion.

  1. You need to identify the concept in the text.
  2. Understand how it differs from similar related concepts.
  3. Translate the specific context into appropriate wording.

Top 10 Characteristics of Subheadings

  1. collocation
  2. complete
  3. differentiable
  4. good information scent
  5. audience relevant
  6. concise
  7. points to information
  8. parallel construction
  9. important word first
  10. clear relationship to heading

An example of collocation, collecting like items together, would be the second entry in the following:

Woolf, Virginia

  • depressions, 329
  • depression aggravated by poor health, 326
  • dangerous depressions, 442-444

Woolf, Virginia

  • depressions, 329, 336, 442-444

An example of an entry that is not complete would be the following, since all of the pages in the range are not covered:

Deng Xiaoping, 258-315

  • Communist Party work, 310-315
  • during Cultural Revolution, 262-265
  • early life, 258-260
  • education, 260-261
  • ??? 265-309 [Subheading hole]

An example of differentiable would be the second entry in the following, since there is no difference in the meaning of the subheadings of the first entry:


  • planning for, 14
  • preparing for, 21
  • thinking about, 2


  • planning for, 2, 14, 21

I will discuss the remaining characteristics of subheadings in the next blog postings.  For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website,