Re: Indexing style refs
...I often use this practice while indexing:
account codes x-xx
I do this in the hope that users will only have to look up the information
once, and I'm not sure where they'll be looking. Would adding "see" references everywhere make this more cumbersome or more useful to users?
This is called double-posting, and I do it too. Other than the increased effort in maintaining accuracy and consistency, there's no penalty for extensive double-posting in electronic media.
In print publishing, though, you're often limited in the number of pages allocated for the index. If double-posting would push you over that limit, you might use cross-references instead. (Of course, there's no difference if each heading has only one subhead; the space saving come with each double-posted heading has multiple subheads, as is more often the case in a "real" index.)
One last point (whew!) - why teach users preferred terms in indexes?
As others have pointed out, it can be frustrating to look up a term in the index, go to the indicated page, and be unable to find that term on the page. In the index, the relationship between the reader's term and the preferred term is explicit ("garbage man. See sanitation engineer"): the reader knows what term to look for on the page indicated by the preferred term's index entry.
If you leave it to chance, you're bound to lose a reader or two, and that goes against the principal of getting the reader to the information they need.
I guess I'd rather my indexes serve the needs of the harried, "I need this
now" user, where there's several ways to get to a single page without
Indexing is a profession, taught and studied by serious, intelligent folks at real universities, rather than the afterthought it usually becomes in the documentation world where I live. :)
They've done the studies and found that cross-references serve a valuable purpose in teaching vocabulary. I gotta go with the pros.
HTML Indexer 4 is still the easiest way to create and maintain indexes for web sites, intranets, HTML Help, JavaHelp, and other HTML documents.
HTML Indexer 4 includes fully integrated cross-references, target frames and windows, multiple-file output, "one-step accept" of default entries, and more!
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