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Indexing in Mellel

Indexing in Mellel

A new and wonderful video is here — and it’s all about indexing. You can view it using the link below:

Following is a transcript of the video:

Hi and welcome to this quick tutorial. In this tutorial we’ll discuss Indexing in Mellel.

The index feature was introduced in Mellel 4.0. It looks modest enough, but looks can be deceiving: The Index feature in Mellel is probably the most advanced and powerful feature in Mellel.

An index is a list of topics, people, places, and so on. What’s unique about it is that for every item in the list there’s a list of page numbers where the topic, person and so on is mentioned. The index is a device to help your reader find things quickly in your text.

Indexing a document involves three steps: creating records (often called “entries”), than marking the text, and finally: inserting the index. Traditionally, index creation was separate from the writing process, and done only when the manuscript was completed and laid-out. It was cumbersome, error prone, and time consuming. With Mellel, you can quickly index your manuscript while writing it, and even leverage  the indexing information to allow you to view and navigate your document.

Index Records

An index record represents a topic or person or any other object or concept that you want included in your index. Before you can create a record, though, you need to create an index to put the record in. 

Open the side pane and click the index tab. Now choose “new index” from the cogwheel menu. Let’s name our index “Alice Index”.

To create a record, press the Plus button at the bottom of the index pane. The record name is the name of the person, object or concept we want to index. Let’s call this one “Alice.”

Another way to create index records is to select a name in the text and choose Insert->Index->New Record, or press the Plus button. This saves us the need to type the name. 

Index Marks

Now that we have an index record for Alice we can go over the text and mark places where Alice is mentioned. Place the insertion point before the word or select the whole word and then right-click the appropriate index record and choose Insert Index Mark for record. Marking the text will not disturb the layout so to indicate where the mark was placed, a grey dot will be displayed  shown next to the line. This dot will not show up in print. 

Hover above the dot to see the mark or marks that were added to the line.

Click the mark name to edit the mark. The popover arrow points to the exact location of the mark. The mark editing popover allows you to set advanced settings for the mark, and also allows you to delete the mark if you need to.

Inserting an index

Once you’ve created your records and marked your text for index you can finally insert your index. To do that, place the insertion point where you want to insert the index and choose Insert->Index->Insert Index… Click the “Insert” button and there you have it.

Configuring Index Appearance

But, of course, that’s not all. 

As you can expect from Mellel, the formatting of the inserted index is fully customisable. To make changes choose Edit Index Attributes from the cogwheel menu.

There are a lot of settings here and this may look daunting, but keep in mind that you don’t need to understand or memorise everything, most of the settings here are already set to reasonable values, and you are not likely to need to change them. Also note that you have a preview on the right designed to demonstrate what the settings do. For example, let’s go to the “Layout” tab and have a look at this setting for Item Layout. Let’s choose run-in for a moment. 

Once you change the setting, the preview changes to reflect this and it’s easy to see what it does. Let’s revert back to “indent” and instead let’s setup the index so that the locators, the page numbers in the index, are shown in bold.

Click the “Locators” tab and then click on this character attributes button under “Locator Types”, let’s choose the bold face, and the preview is showing us bold page numbers. click “Save” and let’s insert the index again. 

Great.

Quick Index

The most time-consuming part of creating an index is, of course, marking the text. You usually need to insert thousands of marks for several hundred entries. Also, as you go through the text you might come up with more items that you want to include in the index and didn’t create records for before. The processes of creating the records and marking the text are really intertwined. 

The Quick Index feature was created to accommodate that. Choose Insert->Index->Quick Index to show the Quick Index panel. The Quick Index panel responds to the text selection you make in the document, and suggest index related actions that can be done. For example, let’s select the word “Alice” here, since we already have a record with that name, the Quick Index panel automatically selects the Alice record and we can mark it very quickly by clicking the “Mark” button. Now let’s select “March Hare”, we don’t have a record for that yet so we can’t mark it for anything but we can quickly create a record and then mark it so let’s click “Add Record”. Mellel suggests that we use “March Hare” as the name of the record but in a proper index we need to reverse these words so let’s correct that and click “Add Record & Mark”. Now let’s select this instance of “March Hare”. Quick Index knows that we previously marked this phrase for “Hare, March” and suggests that record for marking.

Last but not least, the Quick Index panel allows us to search for text in the document without having to open the find panel. Let’s type “Alice” and click “Next”, Mellel jumps to the next occurrence of “Alice”, selects it and suggests an appropriate record to mark it for.

That’s is it for this video. There’s much more to say about Mellel’s index feature but we believe this video gives just enough to get started using this advanced feature. 

We’ll see you with our next video.

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