Monday, December 22, 2014

Advice on an Index

I'm currently working on the index for the hardcopy of the third edition of The Machinery of Freedom, which raises a variety of minor questions. I suspect that many readers of this blog are familiar with the book, so thought I would collect opinions on one (and perhaps others later).

When referring to anarcho-capitalism in the index, should I use "anarcho-capitalism," "anarchy," or "A-C."? The first is a bit clumsy on the scale of an index. The second is potentially misleading—it's the only form of anarchy I discuss in the book, but obviously there are others. The third feels a bit in-groupy, but by the time a reader gets to the index he is part of the group of people familiar with the term.

Also, I have one minor irritation with MS Word's indexing function, useful though it certainly is. It alphabetizes "feud" with quotation marks, the word, at the beginning of the index. So my entry for the explanation that "feud" has nothing to do with "feudal" will have to be put in without the quotation marks, then the marks added to the index entry when everything is done. Any readers who work for Microsoft take note.

Working with the indexing software reinforces the conclusion I reached after writing my second book, using a word processing program on my first computer (an LNW80). Prior to the invention of word processors, no books were written. It's just too much work.

At least, none with indexes.

24 Comments:

At 11:20 AM, December 22, 2014, Anonymous MikeP said...

When referring to anarcho-capitalism in the index, should I use "anarcho-capitalism," "anarchy," or "A-C."?

You forgot "capitalism, anarcho-".

But I'd choose "anarcho-capitalism".

 
At 1:14 PM, December 22, 2014, Blogger Noah Siegel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 1:15 PM, December 22, 2014, Blogger Noah Siegel said...

My first instinct in looking for a word in an index would be to look for the full word, not the abbreviation. Even as an in-grouper.

So I would go with "anarcho-capitalism."

 
At 1:43 PM, December 22, 2014, Blogger John said...

Have you tried a Latex editor? I've enjoyed Lyx. Bit of a learning curve compared to Word.

 
At 2:28 PM, December 22, 2014, Blogger chriscal12 said...

"Prior to the invention of word processors, no books were written. It's just too much work."

Given your involvement in the SCA, and your interest in historical authenticity, have you ever considered penning a (short) book, maybe a pamphlet, in pre-word processor, or pre-printing press, style?

 
At 4:09 PM, December 22, 2014, Anonymous David (not Friedman) said...

Anarcho-capitalism. Anything else would just be confusing.

 
At 5:54 PM, December 22, 2014, Blogger Unknown said...

If you use LaTeX, you will not only make a much more beautiful document, but you can choose where index entries should be arranged alphabetically.

 
At 6:38 PM, December 22, 2014, OpenID whswhs said...

Speaking as someone who occasionally copy edits indexes for scholarly books:

1. My feeling is that an important subset of users of an index are people who have not bought or borrowed the book, who want to find out what it says about topic X to see if it's worth reading the whole thing. They won't be familiar with "A-C-ism" and won't look for it. So you will make the book less useful if you use that term, and less likely to acquire certain readers who could use it.

2. Do you discuss "anarchy" as meaning something other that "anarchocapitalism"—either a more general conception of political organization, or a distinct concept, such as lawless violence? In that case, there would be a case for including "anarchy" for those cases, perhaps with a "see also anarchocapitalism." Otherwise you can leave it out. I think I would favor putting in the term that you use more often of "anarchism" and "anarchocapitalism." Normally I would recommend putting in the other with "see," but in this case the two would naturally be right next to each other, so little is gained.

3. I myself prefer to close up "anarchocapitalism," but I wouldn't impose that on an author who hyphenated it.

4. As to "feud," do you use both the form in quotation marks and the form without them, with different meanings? If not, I would favor just putting the word in the index, with no quotation marks. You might like to have an index subentry under "feud" of "as distinct from feudalism" pointing to where you discuss the two concepts. It would probably be better not to use the quotation marks except at the first mention of the word, if you can avoid this.

 
At 8:24 PM, December 22, 2014, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about ANCAP? It too feels “in-groupy” but I hear is used a good bit.

 
At 8:56 PM, December 22, 2014, Blogger David Friedman said...

I don't discuss other versions of anarchy. And I want "feud" in quotation marks because my point is in part etymological—the two words really are unrelated save in sound. But I can easily enough get the word where I want it by marking it for the index without quotation marks, then hand edit the index before turning the document into a pdf to send for printing and add the quotation marks at that point.

 
At 1:15 AM, December 23, 2014, Blogger Tibor Mach said...

I am surprised you don't use TeX :)
I would also be for "anarcho-capitalism". One often sees much more complicated and longer terms in literature, so I don't think it is a problem.

 
At 3:17 AM, December 23, 2014, OpenID hudebnik said...

I tried writing my book in Word, then gave up after a few chapters and rewrote the whole thing in LaTeX, and was much happier.

And of course books and indices were written before word processors -- just not books with correct indices.

 
At 4:44 AM, December 23, 2014, Blogger Jason Azze said...

I'll also cast a vote for anarcho-capitalism -- if we're voting. And, depending on your style guide (typically CMoS for this type of work), words as words should be italicized, not quoted.

 
At 5:28 AM, December 23, 2014, Blogger Gregory Heslop said...

I second what whswhs said in his first point above. I occasionally look at the index first to ascertain whether I should read (part of) a book. It happened most recently yesterday at the local library and I decided against borrowing the book based on that viewing. Particularly if there are many terms beginning with the letter A positioned between "A-C" and "Anar..." (which seems likely) in the index, the reader's eye is unlikely to be caught by the abbreviation if he was originally looking for a longer term.

For this subset of readers, "in-groupy" abbreviations are risky. Deciding between "anarchy" and "anarcho-capitalism" is trickier, I think.

 
At 8:23 AM, December 23, 2014, Blogger Kevin Van Horn said...

Re the comment about LaTeX, there is an open-source GUI front-end to LaTeX called Lyx (www.lyx.org) that I have used extensively. I can't even imagine trying to write a serious document in Word anymore.

 
At 10:28 AM, December 23, 2014, Blogger Tibor Mach said...

Kevin: There are some neat LaTeX templates online for CVs. It really looks professional and I doubt one could do the same thing in Word...definitely not in the same amount of time.

Also:
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1319/showcase-of-beautiful-typography-done-in-tex-friends

The second most upvoted answer shows a beautiful dictionary created in LaTeX

 
At 11:41 AM, December 23, 2014, Blogger David Friedman said...

I'm persuaded—anarcho-capitalism it is. And italics for "feud" and "feudal" seems like a sensible idea.

 
At 11:49 AM, December 23, 2014, Blogger Benjamin. said...

I would not use "a-c" to abbreviate "anarcho-capitalism." Some people using an index might NOT be read the whole book. It may be precisely the reason that they reference the index.

 
At 11:45 AM, December 24, 2014, Blogger Jonathan said...

I also vote for "anarcho-capitalism".

Regarding the writing of books before word processors, I'm reminded of Tolkien's foreword to The Lord of the Rings:

"Then when the ‘end’ had at last been reached the whole story had to be revised, and indeed largely re-written backwards. And it had to be typed, and re-typed: by me; the cost of professional typing by the ten-fingered was beyond my means."

 
At 5:58 AM, December 25, 2014, Blogger Unknown said...

I think anarcho-capitalism is the right answer. Aside from A-C having a in-groupy feel as you indicated, one of the purposes of an index is for quick reference by people who have not yet read the entire book. Some readers may have come to your book seeking information on a subject for the first time.

Also, I'd like to thank Tibor for the link to the LaTeX examples. I was actually looking for some formatting tweaks for a bilingual dictionary using LaTeX. The world is truly a smaller place than any of us realize.

 
At 1:45 PM, December 25, 2014, Blogger David Friedman said...

One the virtues and faults of Word ...

I have just wasted some hours on what I thought was a bug in Word's indexing software but turned out to be a mistake by me due to unclear instructions for indexing. I noticed that, although many of my index entries were for a range of pages, they were all appearing in the index as a single page number—which turned out to be the end of the range, not the beginning.

I eventually found the problem. I had assumed that you entered a range by putting a bookmark at the end of it and an index entry at the beginning which showed the range as to that bookmark. It turned out that what I was supposed to do was select the whole range, label it with a bookmark, and make that bookmark what the index entry pointed to.

My fault? Microsoft's fault? Our joint fault?

 
At 10:07 PM, December 25, 2014, Blogger Hyman said...

Why do you need to limit yourself to just one index entry? If you think your readers will look for a term in various ways, put all of them in the index.

 
At 12:19 PM, January 04, 2015, Anonymous James Hanley said...

As a libertarianish but non anarcho-capitalistic person, my recommendation would be to make it as crystal clear for the reader as possible, which would be, I think, to use "anarcho-capitalism" (either with or without the dash!).

 
At 4:36 PM, January 06, 2015, Blogger BerserkRL said...

So now I wonder whether AC/DC stands for "anarcho-capitalism divided by District of Columbia." Which sounds rather sad.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home