Subheadings enable your readers to find detailed information quickly. They also give the reader an idea of how deeply a topic is covered.

Subheadings provide more detail about the topic stated in the main entry. Effective subheadings represent distinct aspects of a topic. The following example, from Beyond Public Architecture: Strategies for Design Evaluations, includes the city with each subheading. Ideally, each subheading has only one or two page references:

    acreage limited (San Diego), 29
    already 40 acres downtown (Indianapolis), 152
    dedicated by developer (Portland), 32
    dedication (Irvine), 65–66
    design guidelines (Vail), 25
    expansion plans (Baltimore), 34
    improvement (Portland), 150–151
    lands and urban centers (Kansas City), 152
    for Mid-City with State funds (San Diego), 149
    requirement Charles Center/North (Baltimore), 75
    See also Parks

Sometimes a topic, or main heading, can be divided into sub-classifications. For example, vehicles could be subdivided into “types of” vehicles such automobiles, trucks and buses. Similarly, a house could be subdivided into “parts of” the house such as walls, rooms, roof, plumbing, etc.

Sub-classifications of a main heading make poor subheadings because they do not tell the reader more “about” the topic. Ideally, a sub-classification should be raised to a main heading with a “See also” cross-reference from the original main topic. In the following example, from Concepts of Mass in Contemporary Physics and Philosophy, the main heading “general relativity” makes a “See also” cross-reference to two sub-classifications, “relativity, Einstein's theory of” and “special relativity”:

general relativity
    alternatives to theory of 118, 136
    antimatter and, 125–26
    Bekenstein’s variable-mass theory and, 161
    Einstein’s theory of, construction of, 101, 102–4
    Equality of active and passive gravitational masses in, 132–35
    and Mach’s principal, 150, 151, 157
    mass trichotomy in, 135
    negative mass within, 124
    Newton and, 101–2, 119
    See also relativity, Einstein’s theory of; special relativity

relativity, Einstein’s theory of
    alternative to 95–96, 118, 136-40
    dialectical materialism and, 89
    versus PPN formalism, 96
    See also special relativity; general relativity

special relativity
    equality of gravitational and inertial masses in 131–32
    fundamental postulates of, 71
    Michelson-Morley experiment and, 111
    Newton’s formulation of, 119
    See also general relativity; relativity, Einstein’s theory of

Market research has shown that comprehensive indexes improve book sales. And with customer documentation, finding the answer quickly will reduce the likelihood of an expensive customer support call.

Fred Brown
Allegro Technical Indexing
(613) 728-9373

October, 2001
Allegro Time!

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