Cindex Tips & Tricks: Checking Page References

July 4, 2017

In any index correct page-references are as equally important as beautifully crafted wording. Perhaps even more so if the integrity of the index is to be preserved. We may be forgiven inelegant phrasing but not an inaccurate reference.

A recent on-line discussion about ensuring the accuracy of page references has prompted me to describe some measures you can take in CINDEX™ to help ensure accuracy, and thus credibility. The carpenter’s axiom of “measure twice, cut once” comes to mind here. There is no substitute for entering page numbers correctly at the time you create your entry, but we are all fallible – interruptions, disruptions, and inattention can play havoc in our orderly world – and errors do creep in as we keyboard.

And let’s the honest, no-one wants, or likes, to check each entry against the text during the final editing process. It is both time-consuming and mind-numbingly boring. However, there is a technique you can use to make it less so – skimming the index in page-number order – in which any abnormally high numbers float to the end of the index, along with the cross-references, and entries with no page numbers attached float to the top.

To make this even more palatable and useful first EXPAND the index so that each page number or page range per record. This option is found on the TOOLS MENU.

To place the index in a page-order sort click on the 1-9 icon on the toolbar at the top of the index:

Macintosh HD:Users:Frances:Desktop:Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 6.36.51 AM.png

Remember that “grayed out “icons reflect the current state of the index.  In the example above the index is displaying all records, is formatted in indented style, and is in an alphabetic sort.

Hint: you can customize the toolbar content and order at VIEW MENU / CUSTOMIZE TOOLBAR

So far, so good, but the real secret is then to right-justify the numbers so that they are distinctly separate from the entry text.  To do this you need to check the right justify box at VIEW MENU / PAGE REFERENCES.

Macintosh HD:Users:Frances:Desktop:Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 6.51.00 AM.png

This will give you an index display that looks like this:

Macintosh HD:Users:Frances:Desktop:Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 7.00.07 AM.png

In a subject index, you will be surprised at how “gaps” in the numbers leap out at you.  And often the subject content of an entry may also appear out of context.  Not foolproof, but gives you, the indexer, some reassurance that mistakes have been caught and rectified.

Of course, preventing mistakes in the first place is the best practice and here are some ways in which you can facilitate that:

Review your entries

As you are keying your entries, take a few seconds to review your entries that display in the space above your current record entry window. Did you forget to alter the page number when you turned the page?  Did you miskey a page-range?

Set your preferences

Set your preferences to warn you if you have failed to provide a page number or have entered an invalid number (see (4) below for how to set parameters)

Macintosh HD:Users:Frances:Desktop:Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 7.31.09 AM.png
‍This dialogue box is found at cindex menu/preferences in the Mac version of the program, and at edit menu/preferences in the PC version.  Notice that “Track New Entries” is unchecked, so that you can see the entries as you enter them in their order of entry rather than in their placement in the index.  I sometimes switch this option on when I’m editing, but never while I’m entering material – that’s just the way I work.
Carry Locator Forward

CARRY LOCATOR FORWARD (in dialogue box above) will populate the page field of a new record with the page number in the “last-touched” (i.e. entered or edited) record.  Not foolproof, especially if you are jumping around in the text or index, but it does save considerable keyboarding.

Hint: if you need to increase or decrease a number or range without entering the page field simply use Cntrl ] or Cntrl [ respectively. Press as many times as needed.

Reference Syntax

Other allies in your quest for perfect page numbers can be found at DOCUMENT MENU / REFERENCE SYNTAX:

::Desktop:Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 7.59.14 AM.png

Here you can set the maximum allowable value of a page number and Cindex will warn you (as in (2) above) if you exceed it.  Normally, this value reflects the final page of the text, but you can reset it incrementally as you begin each new chapter.  You can also indicate the span of the largest acceptable page range and Cindex will again warn you if you exceed it.

Sort your index

Lastly, you may sometimes find it useful to display the index in the order of entries as you made them: use the toggle option at VIEW MENU / SORTED to change it to VIEW MENU / UNSORTED and for greater clarity ask Cindex to display the record numbers (VIEW / SHOW NUMBERS). However, remember that record numbers only display in draft view, so if wish to right-justify the numbers, you will need to be in full format view.

This view is particularly useful if you work in strictly linear fashion from page 1 thru the end of the book.  If you adopt a two-step approach, i.e. picking up the structure of a chapter first and then returning to the start to flesh out the detail, you will not find this view useful for checking page numbers, but great for checking your thought process!

None of the techniques I’ve described will guarantee a perfectly numbered index, but can go a long way toward achieving it.  If we consider indexing to be at the intersection of artistic endeavor and technical precision perhaps it is safe to adopt a “perfection-in-imperfection” stance – but let’s hope neither author, editor nor reader discover that one error in a 10,000 entry index!

Indexing Research
620 Park Avenue, #183
Rochester, New York 14607