How to Use an Ebook Index

by Nancy Humphreys on June 15, 2011

Are you wondering what an ebook index looks like? Here is the first page from one of my client’s ebooks.

First page from an ebook index

As you can see, the ebook index has a feature that print indexes do not have – LINKS!

The A-Z list of linked letters saves the reader time. Click on a letter. The link will take you to the section of the index where the headings all start with that particular letter.

Navigation is further enhanced by an icon  on each page of the index (a capital A at the top right on the iPad) that takes you back to the start of the index. There you can click on another letter.

You can choose to get around this way instead of scrolling back and forth through the pages of the index.

In addition, all of the See and See also cross-references are linked too. So they instantly take you to other term(s) you can look at.

And of course, all of the index headings and subheadings are linked to passages in the text.

But here comes a drawback of digital indexes! Actually it’s a great feature of ebooks that the reader can adjust the size of the font on the pages of the book. That enables some people to read the book more easily and faster.

However,  changing font-size does change the virtual “page”, i.e., the particular screen on which a topic listed in the index will be found in the text.

To get a sense of an ebook even if you don’t have any, try this. Adjust the font size of text in your web browser. (In Firefox for Mac, for example, you select “View” and Zoom.) See how the pages “reflow” on the screen when you make the font bigger?

If the font size is changed from the size originally used for formatting the ebook, you may need scroll forward a page or two to find a topic that the index is pointing to in the text.

Or you can fiddle around with your font preferences in your browser or on your eReader device. See which font size for the book gives you the most precise targeting between the index and the text you want to read.

Now, don’t you wish all ebooks had indexes?

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Marketing Your Book to Libraries Marketing Your Books to Libraries: An Insider's Guide for Authors by former librarian Nancy K. Humphreys includes: 
  • How to tell what kind of library to target
  • Types of librarians and books they order
  • Strategies to get past the "gatekeepers" who influence librarians
  • Right ways to approach librarians most likely to order your book

Learn more »

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