Genealogy Writing: Indexes
Although online sharing is becoming more and more common, published versions of genealogy are still popular. I often hear people say that you can’t search a book like you can a website. Actually, you can. With an index.
There are two things everyone who is writing a compilation of a family history needs two know. First: unless your compilation is only a single page, you need an index. It is the only way people will be able to find anything in your book. You can index anything you want: names, places, subjects, etc. Which leads us to the second thing you need to know.
No matter what anyone tells you, you only need one index. Some people think you need separate indexes for names, places, and subjects. Have you every used a book like that? Have you noticed how cumbersome it is to have to keep moving between indexes? One index that combines all types of entries makes it so much easier.
There should be two levels of entries: the main heading with a single level of subheading. For a name, the main head would be the surname and the subhead the first name. For U.S. place names, the state name would be the main head with the city/town/county as the subhead. If you include multiple countries you will have to examine the appropriate government structure and index accordingly. For example, In Canada you would use the province as the main head. In the U.K., you might use the county as the main head.