IRIS 42: Information and Research Instruction Suite for two-year colleges

Defining Index

An index is a pointing tool

Your library has one or more periodicals indexes, both online and in print. In this tutorial, we’ll focus on online periodicals indexes.

Let’s look at the word index. You already know what an index is -- you’ve probably used the index in the back of a book to look up a page number for a topic.

A periodicals index pinpoints information in periodicals just as a book index points to information in books, but on a much larger scale. A periodicals index searches for your subject in hundreds or even thousands of different periodicals (magazines, journals, newspapers) and points you to articles that match your search.

librarians' tip

Here's a memory device. Your index finger is your pointing finger. An index is a pointing tool -- it points to specific articles.

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