Main headings are carefully chosen terms that create the structure of an index. They reflect the vocabulary of the author and anticipate the vocabulary of the reader. The combination of the main heading and its subentries is an entry array. See also Subentries 101.
A gloss can be used to annotate the main heading. Glosses are often used to indicate the creator of a work, as in “All Along the Watchtower (Dylan),” the location of publication, as in “The Guardian (UK),” and the type of work, “Paris, Texas (film).”
Main headings, best practices for
Main headings should be accurate and concise. Cross-references are used to link related main headings with subentries. Avoid cross-references to main headings without subentries and double-post the term instead. If the main heading has five or more locators, use subentries to aid the reader.
When editing an index, it is sometimes necessary to combine two main headings in order to consolidate closely related concepts into compound main headings. Examples: “intellectuals and intellectualism” and “oil and oil refineries.”