Fall 2000 Conference Summary
September 23, 2000
The 2000 annual fall conference of the Massachusetts Society of Indexers (MSI) was a half-day event held at the Dedham campus of Northeastern University. There were three speakers: May Hasso presenting database indexing, Char James-Tanny discussing online help indexing, and John Sullivan giving an overview of HTML Indexer.
Online Help Indexing
Presented by Char James-Tanny
An index is one of five types of navigation provided for users in online documentation, and, if well designed, is the preferred means of navigation, according to usability studies. (The others are Table of Contents, full-text search, browse buttons, and hyperlinks.) Indexes in online documentation are the same as those found at the “back of the book,” with two exceptions: they display on a navigational tab and they don’t use page numbers.
Because of the difference between the media, users tend to be more serious when looking through an online index. They know what they’re looking for and they want to find it quickly. Not many users just “pick up” the Help file to see what it includes.
Char James-Tanny has almost 20 years of experience as a technical writer (and almost 10 as a Help author). She is well known in the Help community for her knowledge of online Help tools and concepts. Author of Teach Yourself RoboHelp for HTML Help 2000 in 24 Hours, published by Sams, she speaks frequently at online Help conferences. Char is a member of STC's Boston Chapter and a RoboHelp Certified Instructor.