Chicken tonight?

Many people lead busy lives and we’re all being encouraged to cook from scratch at home these days for health and financial reasons. So cookery books can be a good resource for inspiration and instructions. However, as the author of the tweet above pointed out, finding recipes can be difficult if the book has a poor index. The book in question has a very skimpy index, pretty much just a list of the recipe names. Lookinside shows what I mean http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bird-Hand-Chicken-Recipes-Every/dp/178472002X.

A typical recipe might generate between 2 and 6 entries for the index, so what else could a good index include apart from the recipe name? The first recipe listed in the index is ‘baked chicken with tarragon and mustard’, so entries could be made for both tarragon and mustard because other recipes might include them. The type of chicken used is ‘joints’, so there’s another to distinguish from the recipes that use a whole chicken, drumsticks, breasts or thighs. It might be relevant to index the ‘baked’ dishes, as others might be ‘stove-top’ or ‘grilled’.

After a bit of work on the other recipes other links might become apparent, perhaps including ethnic origins, so ‘Spanish’ might list ‘Casa Lucio’s chicken with garlic’, and ‘Mar i Muntanya’, as only a human indexer will associate the Madrid restaurant with Spain and spot that a Catalan dish comes from Spain.

There are many other links a good index can make that will help users make the best of a cookery book. A good index makes all the difference in a cookery book and a poor one can be criticised and loose sales. Sometimes too much time is spent on the design and layout and not enough on the human users of the book. Don’t let that happen to your cookery book.

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