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Indexing Nonfiction Documents

A good book deserves a good index. A good reader of nonfiction wants a good index. A good index will help your reader locate key information. The key terms you may provide will help shape the index, which helps guide your reader.

A good index will have all the terms a reader might be looking for, but no extra terms that add unnecessary length. A good index will have cross references that help guide the reader to key terms and additional information. A good references will not be overloaded with sub-points that are difficult to locate.

Good indices are organized logically, but take into account the many different ways readers perceive things and how they group them in their minds. As an author, you might have an idea of how what words should be in the index and how they should relate to others. Some of your readers, though, might come with different mindsets, so that, when they look up something, they might not be able to find it initially with the words you thought of. A good index will have these related words to point your readers to your keywords.

As an author, you know your material so well that you might have forgotten all the places where you mentioned important terms. Because it is so clear to you, you might not even think anymore how term A is related to term B and C, and even J! So you might not think about where you mentioned A in the section on J. A reader picking up your book for the first time might not make all those connections. A good index with proper entries and sub-point, as well as cross references, will help the reader make those connections and point them in the direction they need to go to understand how they all fit together. More importantly, a good index will help the reader more thoroughly understand what you want to share.

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