Index conventions


Format conventions

The rules governing the formatting of index entries are many and varied.  The Alexander Index uses The Chicago Manual of Style [TCMS] as the main point of reference for how index entries should be presented. The CMS has been described as a "de facto standard for book indexes"1.  You can download the relevant section of the Manual, Chapter 18 from the 15th Edition,2 as a PDF file for free (384KB). If you are involved in creating index entries you should read that text. If in doubt about the format to use in a particular case, contact the Project Lead.

Adherence to TCMS standards is, however, an ideal: in practice it is subject to the constraints of the index being displayed online, cost factors that prevent a more sophisticated approach to display, the specialist nature of the index, which indicates some variants to the standard approach, and the multiple sources from which the full Index has been derived.

Other conventions

  • "Alexander phrases" are normally indexed as they would appear in the text, with adjectives first if necessary - thus, "conscious control" not "control, conscious".
  • "The Alexander Technique" was never referred to as such by Alexander, although he may occasionally have referred to "my technique".  We have adopted the convention that index entries that reference general statements about the  Technique during Alexander's lifetime (including by Alexander) are indexed as "Alexander's technique"; but similar references made after his death are indexed under "Alexander Technique". Note we have abandoned the "The".
  • Concerning Alexander the man: statements that are specific to Alexander himself as an individual - i.e. biographical or autobiographical statements - are collected under "Alexander's.... etc etc".
  • The historic present is used for verbs describing descriptions of Alexander's behaviours or actions that are written by Alexander or others during his lifetime. The past tense is used for texts written after his death. 
  • Entries, sub-entries and sub-sub-entries: there is always a judgment to be made about how elaborate a main or sub-entry might be, given the alternative of pushing a defining phrase down into the next level (ie down to a sub-entry  or sub-sub-entry).  As the aim is to index through to a relatively subtle and nuanced level of meaning, this necessitates relatively wordy entries: this in turn makes it advisable to accept relatively lengthy phrases in an individual component of an index entry. For example, we have separate main entries for "direction of use, conscious and reasoned" and "direction of use, instinctive and unreasoned".


1. Bella Hass Weinberg, "Indexes: a chapter from The Chicago manual of style, 14th edition: a review", The Indexer Vol. 19 No. 2, October 1994.

2. You can also purchase the corresponding chapter of the current edition of TCMS in printed form, eg from here. The chapter provides references to further reading.