Technical Writing Tip:
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
- 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
- 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."
Creative Writing Tips
Society of Technical Communication (STC)
Orange County STC