Indexing Your Annual Report: a Guide by Mary Russell and Max McMaster
This publication has been written for someone indexing their first annual report. They may be an employee of the company or organisation, a consultant employed to prepare the annual report or an indexer.
Since no indexing experience is assumed in this publication, various examples are given to explain how to index and the ways indexing entries could be improved. However, it is assumed the person will have organisational knowledge.
Why have an index to an annual report?
In writing the annual report, much time and effort has been spent explaining what the company/organisation has been doing over the past year, and an index assists in making the information readily accessible to readers.
An index is more than something that is nice to have. The Australasian Reporting Awards deems an index as a requirement and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has a mandatory requirement for all annual reports presented to Parliament to include an index.
What makes a good index?
- Accurate page references.
- Page numbers that lead you to useful information on the topic, not every occurrence of the word.
- Subheadings used to reduce long strings of page numbers.
- Abbreviations are explained.
- Appropriate use of capitals and lower case.
- Italics for the names of publications, including Acts.
- It is arranged in alphabetical order.
- Double posting for entries, where appropriate, with the same page numbers in both cases.
- Cross references used to point to preferred terms or other headings of interest.
- Headings are spread out in the index and not all under the name of the organisation.
Index versus table of contents
An index is very different from a table of contents. A table of contents, located at the front of the report, is a list of sections in the annual report in page order. An index, located at the back of the report, is a list of headings in alphabetical order pointing readers to the substance of the report.
It is NOT a good idea to try and modify your table of contents to produce an index. So how can you tell if an index has been formed from a contents page? Here are some examples of the poor quality derived from contents page indexing:
|Converted contents page||Good index|
|All index entries have only one page number, implying that the only information on that subject appears on only that page and doesn’t spread over following pages.||Awards 25
Director’s report 6
financial statements 56
|Awards 25, 44
Director’s report 6–7
financial statements 56–90
|Headings appear in unexpected places in the index.||O
Our mission 2
Our stakeholders 4
Our vision 2
|Inconsistent use of terms.||employee training
|employees see staff
|Large annual report with a very brief index.||30 headings in index for report of 290 pages||Full index could have 200 or more headings|
- What is an index?
- Planning your index
- What to index?
- Page numbers
- Compiling the index
- Cross references
- Specific parts of the annual report
- Editing the index
- Layout of the index
- Where to get help
Both Mary Russell and Max McMaster have extensive experience in indexing and indexing annual reports in particular.
Publisher: Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers (ANZSI)
PO Box 5062
Glenferrie South VIC 3122
© Mary Russell and Max McMaster 2010
First edition August 2010
ISBN print: 978-0-9808284-0-5
ISBN PDF: 978-0-9808284-1-2
Pages: 44 including index
Ebook (PDF file) A$25
Printed A$35 (includes postage)
ALL funds go to ANZSI.
Use the Online Order form
Reviews / Comments
- Book review, by Bill Johncocks, The Indexer, 2010;28(4):191-2. [PDF 108KB]
- Helpful indexing tools: Indexing your annual report, Penny Farthing Commuter, 21 November 2010.