Posts Tagged ‘indexing’

Common Subheading Problems

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

In this blog posting, I will discuss common subheading problems, based on an American Society for Indexing webinar given by Fred Leise on September 17, 2014.  The common subheading problems are the following:

  1. repeating text
  2. confusing/awkward
  3. indexing what the reader doesn’t know
  4. uncontrolled locators

An example of repeating the text in the subheading is the following:

Scheutz difference engine

  • government investigation into whether or not to fund a copy of
    • and recommendation to do so by Airy, 205-207

An example of a confusing/awkward subheading phrase is first, with the second and third examples corrected:

encephalitis

  • organ recipients developed

encephalitis

  • organ recipients’ development of

encephalitis

  • development of, in organ recipients

The following example indexes what the reader doesn’t know.  The reader doesn’t know that there are ten usability heuristics in the book.

heuristic evaluations

  • automated aids to, 192-193
  • criticisms of, 190-192
  • methodologies for, 186-189
  • ten usability heuristics, 167-169
  • user control and, 172
  • visibility of system status in, 167

Uncontrolled locators are a string of page references after a main heading that are not subdivided.  The reader doesn’t know whether the locator is a definition, a passing mention or a primary discussion.  Maybe it is a discussion so complicated that the indexer quit trying to capture it in a reasonably worded subheading.  Is it the first place to look or the last place to look?  Inclusion of chapter or section page ranges after the main heading is okay.  The first example shows what to avoid, while the second example shows a correct entry.

Church, xiv, 156-181, 183, 185, 192-193, 202-203

  • actualized, 168
  • and union with Christ, 171-172, 175-176, 193-194, 202
  • idealized, 162-165, 172
  • as organism, 168-181

arms race, 39-72

  • Cold War, relationship to, 39, 51-54
  • consequences of, 70
  • influence of nuclear weapons on, 43

(lots of other subheadings)

This concludes my discussion of subheadings.  For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website, http://www.stellarsearches.com

 

 

Still More Characteristics of Successful Subheadings

Monday, June 5th, 2017

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

Top 10 Characteristics

  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

In the last two blog postings, I discussed in detail and gave examples of the first six characteristics: collocation, complete, differentiable, good information scent, audience relevant, and concise.  In this blog posting, I will discuss in detail the last four characteristics.

 

Points to Information

The subheading should point to, but should not repeat information from the text.  The second example does not repeat information.

compositional change and improvisation

  • as symbols of music acting upon myth, 38-39, 42-46

compositional change and improvisation

  • as symbols, 38-39, 42-46

 

Parallel Construction

Parallel construction is important to consistency and helps the reader find things faster.  It aids in index ease of use and clarity and removes some of the barriers readers might find.

Types of parallel construction include form, nouns versus gerunds, nouns versus verbs, and verb tense.  The second example in the series shows the corrected parallel construction.

parallel construction: form

health issues

  • during WWI, 24
  • during World War II, 28

parallel construction: nouns vs. gerunds

gestures

  • for changing applications, 18
  • for deletion of email, 141

gestures

  • for changing applications, 18
  • for deleting email, 141

parallel construction: nouns vs. verbs

Clement, Joseph

  • confrontation with Babbage, 66-67
  • demands compensation, 62-63

Clement, Joseph

  • confronts Babbage, 66-67
  • demands compensation, 62-63

parallel construction: verb tense

Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich

  • failed to end Afghan conflict, 198
  • supports new Union treaty, 107

Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich

  • failed to end Afghan conflict, 198
  • supported new Union treaty, 107

 

Important Word First

In subheadings, the first word listed should always be the most important.  The second example shows this characteristic.

Orthodox Christianity

  • relationship of church and state in, 187

Orthodox Christianity

  • church-state relationship in, 187

 

Clear Relationship to Heading

The subheading should always have a clear relationship to the main heading.  The last example shows the clearest relationship to the heading.

Napoleon

  • Russia, 276-280

Napoleon

  • in Russia, 276-280

Napoleon

  • on Russia, 276-280

Napoleon

  • Russia, failed invasion of, 276-280

In the next blog posting, I will discuss common subheading problems.  For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website, http://www.stellarsearches.com

More Characteristics of Successful Subheadings

Monday, May 8th, 2017

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

Top 10 Characteristics

  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

In the last blog posting, I discussed in detail and gave examples of the first three characteristics: collocation, complete, and differentiable.  In this blog posting, I will discuss in detail the next three characteristics.

Good Information Scent

Labels must provide users with a good information scent, a strong connotation so users can understand what type of material it points to.  The second example has a better use of good information scent than the first example:

pomegranates

  • about, 24
  • cooking with, 26

pomegranates

  • ancient Romans use of, 24
  • cooking with, 26

Audience Relevant

Use glosses, short descriptions in parentheses, to help explain concepts to your audience.  The second example is audience relevant:

Wakuenai

  • dzudzuapani, 25,38-40,44,46

Wakuenai peoples (in Venezuela)

  • dzudzuapani (“wheel” dance-songs), 25,38-40,44,46

Concise

Concepts should be concise, but this does not necessarily imply short.  The second example shows a subheading that is concise:

Difference Engine (No. 2)

  • building of as vindication and commemoration of Babbage’s work, 225,226

Difference Engine (No. 2)

  • importance, 225,226

In the next blog posting, I will focus on the last characteristics of successful subheadings.  For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website, http://www.stellarsearches.com

 

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:

projects

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

projects

  • 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, http://www.stellarsearches.com

Successful Subheadings

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

In the next few blog postings, I will discuss successful subheadings, based on an American Society for Indexing webinar given by Fred Leise on September 17, 2014.

 

Purposes of Subheadings

  1. Do Mi Stauber’s Second Rule: Make subheadings only for the purpose of breaking down information in the main heading.

 

human rights, 237-252

  • Amnesty International and, 238-239
  • emergence of concern for, 237-238
  • in Greece, 239-246
  • in Southern Rhodesia, 246-251
  • summary, 251-252

 

2.  Subheadings exist to disambiguate long strings of locators.  Subheadings provide a specific conceptual context so readers can more easily find the information for which they are looking.

 

Instead of entering:

 

Kennedy, John F., 22, 52, 99, 119, 146, 186, 191

 

Enter subheadings to clarify the long strings of locators:

 

Kennedy, John F.

  • flexible response strategy, 52
  • on globalization, 22
  • inaugural address, 191
  • India, food aid to, 119
  • on juvenile delinquency, 146
  • modernization program, 186
  • Peace Corps, proposal for, 99

 

The next few blog postings will focus on characteristics of successful subheadings and common subheading problems.  For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website, http://www.stellarsearches.com

Textbook Indexing

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Leoni McVey led a session, “To Textbooks, with Love,” on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at the American Society for Indexing/Indexing Society of Canada Annual Conference in Chicago.  She discussed the process of elementary to high school and college textbook indexing, and some ways in which textbooks differ from other types of book indexing.  These books are well-organized, she said, with key terms in bold face.

She gave a handout listing “callouts”:  illustration (i), box (b), map (m), document (d), visual (v), chart/graph (c), table (t), and figure (f).  Callouts may be abbreviated or spelled out partially, and may or may not be italics.

Indexable and nonindexable book sections include the following: book preface and introduction: indexable.  Chapter introduction: indexable.  Timelines and chronologies: indexable.  Activities: nonindexable.  Case studies: depends, not if fictional.  Key term lists: indexable.  Review questions: indexable.  Bibliographies: nonindexable.  Glossaries: can be.  Glindex (combined glossary and index): questionable.

She said she compiles two indexes for a teacher edition and a student edition.   She indexes them separately, and then they are merged together, with ‘T’ noting Teacher Edition and ‘SN’ noting Student Notebook.

For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website, http://www.stellarsearches.com

 

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, http://www.stellarsearches.com

Introduction to Taxonomies and Thesauri

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

Heather Hedden, Senior Vocabulary Editor, Indexing and Vocabulary Services for Gale/Cengage Learning led a session on “An Introduction to Taxonomies and Thesauri” on Friday, June 17, 2016 at the American Society for Indexing/Indexing Society of Canada Annual Conference in Chicago.  Taxonomies and thesauri are types of controlled vocabularies that include an authoritative, restricted list of terms (words or phrases) mainly used for indexing/tagging content to support retrieval.  They usually make use of equivalent non-preferred terms (synonyms, etc.) to point to the correct, preferred terms, and may or may not have structured relationships between terms.

Taxonomy

A taxonomy is a controlled vocabulary with broader/narrower (parent/child) term relationships that include all terms to create a hierarchical structure.

  • With focus for categorizing and organizing concepts
  • May or may not have equivalent non-preferred terms (synonyms, etc.) to point to the correct, preferred terms
  • May comprise several hierarchies or facets (A facet can be considered a hierarchy.)

A taxonomy is any kind of controlled vocabulary in an enterprise, corporate setting, content management system, or for website navigation (e.g. e-commerce site).

Thesaurus

A thesaurus is a controlled vocabulary that has standard structured relationships between terms.

  • Hierarchical: broader term/narrower term (BT/NT)
  • Associative: related terms (RT)
  • Equivalence: preferred term (“use for” or “used for”)/non-preferred term (use) (USE/UF)

Also supports notes, such as scope notes (SN), for terms, as needed.

A thesaurus is most often the kind of controlled vocabulary used in indexing periodical literature.  It is also used for literature retrieval databases.  It is used by librarians, indexers, or other information professionals.  It includes non-preferred terms.

Benefits

The benefits of taxonomies/controlled vocabularies are that they bring together different wordings (synonyms) for the same concept.  They help people search for information by different names.  By classification, they help organize information into a logical structure.  They help people browse or navigate for information.

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, http://www.stellarsearches.com

ASI & ISC 2016 Conference in Chicago

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

The joint American Society for Indexing – Indexing Society of Canada annual conference was held June 16 through 18 in Chicago, Illinois at the Conference Chicago at University Center, which I attended.  The keynote speaker on June 17th was Larry Sweazy, indexer and award-winning author of mystery novels, including See Also Murder, who spoke about the writing and indexing life.  The main character in this novel, a murder mystery, is Marjorie Trumaine, an indexer who lives in the 1960s in North Dakota.  He said he chose this time period so that she would use index cards.

The second book in this series is See Also Deception.  He has also written six Texas Ranger novels.  He started writing love poems when he was young, then had short stories published.

In addition to writing novels, he works on 30 to 40 indexes a year.

He said he does not outline his novels.  He said when he starts a novel, he does not know who the killer is.  He writes to find out.  He calls himself a “pants-er,” one who flies by the seat of his pants.  In indexing as well, he jumps right in and starts on the first page, and does not preread or mark up the pages.

He said writing mysteries is like indexing, because you turn chaos into order.  The bad guy gets what he deserves, he said.

He maintains consistency in his characters, and said he knows their education and family tree.  He said he knows what’s in the character’s wallet.

He keeps a strict schedule, working on a certain number of pages of a novel a day and then indexing for the rest of the day, perhaps 75 pages of a book.

In future blog postings, I will discuss other sessions from the ASI & ISC Conference in Chicago.  For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website, http://www.stellarsearches.com

 

Common Sense in Indexing

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Common sense is another principle that aids in creating better indexes.  Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.) defines common sense as “the unreflective opinions of ordinary people”; and “sound and prudent but often unsophisticated judgement.”  Common sense should be balanced with the other principles, accuracy, consistency, comprehensiveness, conciseness, readability, reflexivity, audience-sensitivity, and elegance that I have outlined in previous posts.  Metatopic and structure also aid in creating a quality index.

Term choices and natural language

Indexers are choice architects, as we make choices in every word that goes into an index.  We decide how something obscure might be made more accessible, so we should use natural everyday (common sense) language in our indexes.  We must be aware of jargon and translate it as much as possible, so our indexes are usable across a variety or audiences.  This might entail using a cross-reference or parenthetical qualifier.

Main headings

In order to create the best possible main headings, it is helpful to have a good general grasp of the main subject of the text (or metatopic), using natural language to maintain the connection between the outside world of the user and the inside world of the text.

Subheadings

The following techniques follow common sense.  First, the relationship between the subheading and the main heading must be absolutely clear.  Second, subheadings should, as far as possible, have the most important word first, and sort on that word.  Third, indexers may also apply logic to the sort order of subheadings.

Double-posting acronym-type entries

Acronym-type entries do not always have to be double posted, especially if there are subheadings or if both are sorted one after the other.

Reflections

Common sense is a key tool for indexers and serves particularly as a balance to reflexivity and as an aid to clarity and readability.  Common sense can carry weight when considering the best construction for main headings or subheadings and whether or not to double-post versus using a cross-reference.  Common sense should be applied to create better, more usable indexes.  For more information about common sense in creating indexes, see the article by Margie Towery “Common Sense: Creating Better Indexes, Part 2.” Heartland Chapter Newsletter of the American Society for Indexing, Fall 2012.  http://www.heartlandindexers.org/common-sense.html

For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website, http://www.stellarsearches.com