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The Art of Indexing

If you don’t follow IDPF specification development closely — I can forgive you if you don’t, though I can’t imagine why not — a new baby is on its way: indexes. The first working draft is now available on the IDPF site, and, all going well, it will become a recommendation probably around the same time as the 3.0.1 revision specifications.

I’m not going to write about the indexes spec today, though; well, at least I’ll be trying not to. More on my mind is the general misunderstanding of indexing in a digital world, one where engineers equate an art with a simple science. Indexing is not just keyword listing, after all, despite that being a pervasive belief in the ebook world. Re-read that last sentence a few times before going on, if you need. It’s important to get.
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Lost Order

So when, exactly, is a list ordered or unordered?

Seems like a simple question, but is it? Do indexes and bibliographies represent ordered lists simply because they have been arranged alphabetically, for example?

I was involved in a interesting debate on the topic the other day with a couple of publishing people and we probably spent over a half hour arguing the merits of each approach for indexes before realizing we were really getting off track of our objective! It was an enlightening argument, if only to have to rationalize the position of no order, so I thought I’d share some of it.Continue Reading Lost Order

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