Indexing is a difficult art. I've written about categorization before, but index formats deserve a closer look.
The man who publishes a book without an index ought to be damned 10 miles beyond hell, where the Devil himself cannot get for stinging nettles.
— John Baynes
Say I gave you a list of fruits and furniture (apple, chair, desk, plum, banana, etc.) and asked you to order it, without any further guidance.
You might divide methods like this:
- Obvious-useful: alphabetical and alphabetical by category.
- Obvious-not useful: alphabetical by last letter, grouped by first vowel.
- Not obvious - not useful: grouped by things that remind you of your father, categorized as bourgeois and non-bourgeois items.
- Not obvious - useful: oldest word to most recent, language of origin.
"Obvious" in this case means "immediately and without any further thought or outside knowledge." We can split hairs over what counts as outside knowledge and what counts as utility, but you get the general idea. While a book should contain some obvious-useful indexes, it's important - especially for RPG books - to consider non-obvious useful indexes. Lateral approaches. Ways to mark entrances. Ways to increase conceptual density.
The Monster Overhaul
Here's some of the methods I'm using to index the Monster Overhaul.
The Alphabetical Index of All Monsters is a fairly obvious index. It's just a list. Short alphabetical list at the front of the book, long one at the back.
The HD(NA) section (direct PDF link) (original post) is an interesting concept. Listing monsters by their HD is obvious, but the results in most books tend to be simple bulleted lists under HD headers. HD(NA) tables are a list of related monsters combined with HD tables. They're an extravagant waste of page space... but I feel like it's worth it.
The Index of Monster Utility (very WIP) is a sort of Solve My Problems sheet for the Monster Overhaul.And finally, there's the Celestial Index of Benevolent Knowledge. A monstrous book deserves a monstrous index.