This is not necessarily a LaTeX-only question, and it is a bit open-ended, but given that this community is clearly very detail-oriented, and it is a general-interest question, I think that this is a good place to ask this question.

I'm currently finishing up writing a 700-page mathematical text book*, and the time has come to create an index. I was wondering if you guys have any ideas on guidelines on how to create an index. I will be using makeindex (unless anyone has a better alternative; I'm definitely open for suggestions).

I have a decently clear idea on what keywords to put in there, but I have some remaining issues:

  • What are the rules for making subentries? For example, should "open set" appear in the index as "open set", or as "set -> open"? (set!open in makeindex syntax).
  • What about using "see ...". For example, I have an index entry "Linear optimization model". It make sense to have two entries: "linear -> optimization model", and "optimization model -> linear". Should one of them refer to the other using a "see ..."? Or is it preferred to just refer to the same page number from both entries?

Any other thoughts are also very welcome.

*) In LaTeX, obviously. I'm taking the liberty here to thank many of you here at tex.stackexchange.com that have answered my questions; the community will definitely be mentioned in the acknowledgements.

  • In my analysis books, open set is part of open covering and set refers to set algebra not open or closed sets By mine, I mean books I own not written.
    – dustin
    Apr 24, 2014 at 0:16
  • 13
    Sometime ago, egreg wrote an excellent blog entry: (Don’t) forget to run MakeIndex. Recommendation: read the article and switch to imakeidx. Take into account also that an index is one of the most fundamental parts of a book; a good index is a phenomenal resource; a poor index is disastrous. Apr 24, 2014 at 2:13
  • @GonzaloMedina: Thanks for that reference, that's very helpful! I'm still keen to hear some opinions about best practices on organizing the actual index though.
    – yori
    Apr 24, 2014 at 9:08
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    The "Oxford Style Manual" has a good chapter on indexing. With regard to things like \index{open set} or \index{set!open} it depends on how many other set sub-entries you'll likely to have. If it's the only one, I'd leave it as a main entry. With regard to cross-referencing the OSM recommends not using a cross-reference if the "see blah" part takes up more space than the location list. Apr 24, 2014 at 9:23


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