Matthew Arnold Stern -- Writer and Speaker Buy Offline today! Click here
Skip to the article

Technical Writing Tip:
Index Tips

The index is the first place many users look for information in a manual. Therefore, you want to make sure that your index is complete and anticipates the different ways people will look for information in your manual. Here are some tips:

  • Use flipped phrases. If you have "Software installation," also add "Installation, software."
  • Make wise use of "See" and "See also" entries. "See" entries do not contain page references, but refer to an index entry that does. "See also" entries have page references and occasionally sub-entries, but refer to other entries with additional information.
  • Use synonyms. If you include "Floppy disk," consider adding "Diskettes" or "Floppies" as "See" entries to "Floppy disk."
  • If you use levels of index entries, limit yourself to only two levels. Users may find sub-sub-entries or sub-sub-sub-entries hard to follow, especially when a list of entries goes across columns or pages.
  • Only have one or two page references per entry. When users see a lot of page references, they are not sure which one to use. If you find that you need three or more page references, break them down into more specific index entries.
  • Spell out acronyms. The index may be the first time the user has seen them. You might consider making the acronym a separate "See" entry to the index entry of the spelled-out term. Example: "RAM, See Random-access memory."

Related Topics

Technical Writing Tips


Creative Writing Tips

Communication Tips


Society of Technical Communication (STC)

Orange County STC

Sharon Burton-Hardin
Add to My Yahoo!
Matthew Arnold Stern
bio | articles
Subscribe to the Matthew Arnold Stern Newsletter

Powered by AuthorsDen
Google Entire Internet


Hosted by 1&1