What is the index?
From the Latin index, or indicate, the index is defined as:
“The list of titles that distinguish the various parts in which a work is subdivided or of the titles of the pieces […] sometimes only of the progressive numbering of the chapters, arranged in the order of succession with indicated on the side the page on which they are found ; can be placed before or after the text […] “
When we talk about the thesis index, we therefore refer to the list of chapters and subchapters of which it is composed.
Index: a bridge between author and reader. Main functions
The thesis index is a very important element since it acts as a bridge between the author and the reader. Thanks to its schematic structure and page reference, it is offered as an indispensable tool for browsing content.
It has a dual function. It is used initially during the design phase: it helps you in a very effective way to organize the topics and to understand how to prepare the thread of the speech. Secondly, as soon as it is finished, it comes to the aid of the reader: it will be easier for him to understand what topic you have treated and how you have analyzed it.
But let’s go into this dual nature.
1. Index as a work plan: structure and contents at a glance
Let’s dispel a myth immediately: the index is not given once and for all! It is not a fixed monolith and always identical to itself but we must think of it more as a travel itinerary that will be reviewed and modified several times based on your needs!
How to move to build the index?
Structure it temporarily in a very articulated way. Your first draft must be as detailed as possible: follow each title with a brief but effective summary. This will help you, at the beginning of the work, to optimize time and you will immediately have both the structure and the contents under your eyes.
Use keywords. Accurately identifying concepts through a keyword greatly simplifies your overall vision. Once you have identified the keywords, put them in relation to each other and enter them in the index in the form of a bulleted list. The main theme will coincide with the chapter, which you will articulate in paragraphs and subparagraphs. Don’t be afraid to go overboard with the details: if it can help you to clear your mind, so be it! Remember that you can always eliminate the superfluous at a later time … melius est abundare quam deficere!
Program content over time. Thanks to this visual set-up, you will immediately be able to understand which topic you will have to spend more time on and which will be faster.
Always remember that you can update, insert or change information at any time until the end. The final version will be the result of a constant correction work.
2. Index as a travel itinerary: accompanies the reader from the premise to the conclusions
Like a compass for the sailor, the index marks the cardinal points of your paper. In fact, it accompanies the reader where he wants to go, leaving him free to navigate as he sees fit and allows him to easily approach the topic you are discussing.
Freedom of consultation. The reader must feel comfortable while reading and this can only do so if he is given the necessary tools. A good index must have clarity and simplicity, so as to be immediately usable.
Easy to approach. To give scientific seriousness to your work, the reader must have at his disposal an index structured with rigor. This will allow him to easily approach even the most difficult topic.
If you are lacking ideas for your thesis, read Ideas and ideas for your degree thesis!
If you are already at a good point and need more technical advice, consult our guide to writing your thesis