You can think of indexes as "finding tools." They help you locate books themselves, or information within books. Other indexes help you locate information within magazines.

Your library catalog (card catalog or other format) is an example of an index that helps you find whole books.

There are indexes which help you locate parts of works, such as:

There are also indexes to individual works. The index to the WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA is an example.

Many sources you use are arranged alphabetically by subject and it is common to bypass the index altogether. The encyclopedia is frequently consulted by turning directly to an article. It's important, however, not to overlook indexes. Although there is an article in the 2000 WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA on x-rays in the X volume, more information can be found in 24 other articles! Indexes also will help you locate information when there is no separate article on the topic. For example, you can find a picture of a sea anemone in WORLD BOOK only by using the index.


How would you index the following item?:

The Sioux Uprising OF 1862 by Kenneth Carley

Which of the following entries would you use?

Sioux Uprising Minnesota - History Indians of North America - Wars
Sioux Conflict History, Minnesota Sioux (Indians)
Wars, Indian Indians, Treatment of Dakota Indians
Dakota War Carley, Kenneth Carley, K.

Which are correct? You might find any of the above depending on your index. There are standard rules for good indexing, but not all indexes follow them. You need to be flexible and try several approaches if the first few you try don't work.

Go to Rules for Indexing.

Back to Using Catalogs.

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This page was updated on October 25, 2003.