FEATURE: Alphabetizing is more complex than it appears
SPOTLIGHT: EditPros clients in the news
NET NOTES: Captivating web sites
Alphabetizing is among the elementary linguistic skills that children learn. The accepted sequence of organizing letters of the alphabet has governed everything from the way we lined up in gym class to the way we find names in a phone directory, definitions in a dictionary, business listings in a stock report or information within a book.
So compiling a membership directory or creating an index for a report you've written ought to be a snap, right? Sureafter you've determined which alphabetizing protocol to follow.
Alphabetizing can be done by either of two methods: letter-by-letter, or word-by-word. The distinction is important, because the two approaches can produce markedly different results.
The letter-by-letter principle, which is endorsed by the Chicago Manual of Style, is commonly used in dictionaries and in the indices for other reference works, such as thesauri and almanacs. The word-by-word method is favored among academic journals and book publishers, and it is widely used in phone directories. Here's how the two methods differ.
In letter-by-letter alphabetizing, each entry is treated as one continuous string of letters. Entries are alphabetized strictly by their lettersso, for example, "fieldstone" precedes "field trip." This method disregards spaces between words and most punctuation, including hyphens. Even though the term "field trip" consists of two words, it is treated as a single word.
What about commas? One approach under this method calls for interruption of alphabetizing when a comma introduces a modifying element, such as in listing names of people (for example, to distinguish "Abraham, Edward" from "Abraham, Pamela"). Another approach is to ignore such commas, and alphabetize straight through them. In either case, ignore commas that simply separate items in a series (such as "drumming, piping and marching" or "Abraham, Martin and John"). Parentheses that contain explanations or descriptions interrupt letter-by-letter alphabetizing. Here's a letter-by-letter sort in which modifying-element commas do interrupt alphabetizing:
field glasses, binoculars and telescopes
FIELDS (Fig Inspection and Export Logging Data System)
Note that even though the letter sequence in "Field, Sally" begins F-I-E-L-D-S it precedes "field-effect transistor," which begins F-I-E-L-D-E. That's because "field-effect transistor" is regarded as a continuous sequence of letters, but alphabetizing is interrupted at the preceding shorter entry: F-I-E-L-D.
Now, for comparison, here's letter-by-letter order in which all commas are ignored:
field glasses, binoculars and telescopes
FIELDS (Fig Inspection and Export Logging Data System)
Note that "Field, Sally" is now treated as a continuous string of letters without regard to separation between the two names.
In word-by-word alphabetizing, commas, hyphens and spaces between words are assigned a sorting value. Spaces create a hierarchy under which shorter words precede longer words with the same opening string of letters. A space is "alphabetized" in sequence before any letter or numeral. For example, "field glasses" appears before "fielder." A hyphenated compound term (such as "cross-stitch") is treated as a single word for word-by-word alphabetizing purposes.
Regardless of alphabetizing method, numerals often are sorted as if they were spelled outso the numeral "1" is alphabetized under the letter "O" (for "one") while the numeral "12" appears under the letter "T."
Instead of alphabetizing numerals as if they were words, consider placing terms that begin with numerals or symbols (such as "#" or an asterisk) at the beginning of your index, or perhaps grouping them with a qualifying word (such as exit 9, exit 14, exit 27). Decide also whether to treat abbreviations (such as in "St. Augustine" or "Ft. Smith") as whole words, or whether to alphabetize the name prefix "Mc" as if it were "Mac."
Take a look at how differently these 11 entries are alphabetized under the two methods.
|Letter by letter ||Word by word
So which method is best? That depends upon the nature of the material. Choose the one that is likely to be the most logical for ease of use by your readers. When indexing numerous headings that begin with the same word, word-by-word alphabetizing is easiest to use. Otherwise, letter-by-letter sorting may be advisable because of its familiarity to readers in dictionaries and other reference works.
Many computer applications include an alphabetical "sorting" function. To determine the default alphabetizing method programmed into your software, conduct a simple test: on three successive lines, with paragraph returns between each word, type the following:
Select those three words, activate the "sort" function, and observe the results. If the order is changed to
your software uses the letter-by-letter method.
But if the result is
your software performs word-by-word alphabetizing, as Microsoft Word, for example, does. Microsoft Word also sorts text items that begin with a punctuation mark ($, !, #) first; items beginning with a space are sorted next; followed by items beginning with a letter. When sorting alphabetically, Microsoft Word treats numerals as a sequence of characters, and does not rank them numerically; in a text sort, "Room 13" (Room THIRTEEN) would be listed before "Room 4" (Room FOUR) because the numeral "1" precedes "4." To correct that, try a two-step process, first sorting all words according to text, then selecting only those with room numbers and sorting those numerically.
Even though you may be able to make adjustments in your software's sorting function, don't rely on it to make proper judgments that only a human can do. Indexing is a specialized discipline. Software can be a helpful tool, but it is ancillary to the creation of a thoughtful index.
So when alphabetizing, proceed with care. It's not nearly as simple as A-B-C.
Yes! EditPros can index your reports, directories, catalogs and books.
Bytware Inc. introduces new security software product for IBM iSeries midrange computers
An overwhelming majority of computer security administrators surveyed recently acknowledged that their networks had been attacked by unauthorized users. During 2001 the Computer Security Institute and the FBI Computer Intrusion Squad conducted a survey of 538 security professionals, 86 percent of whom reported break-ins within the prior six months representing a monetary loss of $377 million.
To help combat network security problems, Bytware Inc. of Nevada City, Calif., has introduced a new security software application called StandGuard. Bytware, an EditPros client, is a developer of a leading line of systems monitoring and paging software applications for the IBM iSeries midrange computer platform. The new StandGuard software controls access to key functions on IBM iSeries servers, thereby providing protection against accidental or malicious data loss.
Such losses can be initiated from a personal computer connected to an iSeries network. A password permitting access to a network application such as a spreadsheet or database may also unintentionally give a user unlimited access to other data on the network, including sensitive company financial or personnel data. Such unauthorized PC access could enable users to see, copy, and/or delete iSeries directories and files. Disgruntled employees or mischievous Internet users can use such security breaches to steal or exploit confidential company data.
StandGuard creates filtering layers that either permit or deny certain functions by individual employees or from individual work stations or network connections. It is far more sophisticated and provides substantially more protection than standard operating system security. Additionally, StandGuard can be configured to send alerts to the pagers of computer operations personnel if certain suspicious or unauthorized actions are triggered. StandGuard operates in conjunction with MessengerPlus and MessengerConsoleBytware's systems event monitoring and paging applicationsas well as with other messaging systems.
For more information, visit Bytware on the Web.
The Career Key
Are you in the occupation for which you are best suited? Are you missing your true calling? Or did you make the right choice after all? Based upon preferences and abilities that you indicate, this site can generate a career suitability profile for you, at no charge. It also will give you accurate information about the career options you identify and valuable career advice. It is highly recommended by the professional association for professional career counselors and licensed for use by organizations including The Princeton Review. Open your browser window to full width, answer questions on each page, and click "continue." Start by clicking "you" in the upper right corner. On the next page, click "sign in to begin," and on the subsequent page choose "take the Career Key measure," and follow instructions from there. Have fun! This site was developed by Lawrence K. Jones, professor in the North Carolina State University College of Education, along with Jeanine Wehr Jones.
California Charities Registration Information
If you're inclined to donate to worthy causes but have at times been skeptical about the legitimacy of some professed charity organizations, here's a Web site for you to bookmark. Operated by the California Attorney General's office, this Web site gives you access to a database containing information about more than 84,000 registered charities in California. You can use it to determine the name, address and registry file number of any charity registered with the Attorney General's office.
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance tracks and disseminates information on hundreds of nonprofit organizations that solicit nationally or have national or international program services. You may view records about individual charities, including administrative, operational and tax exemption status information. Yes, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, affiliated with the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Here you'll find information not only about recordable CDs, but also about DVDs (including rewritable DVD technology) and topics related to duplication of CDs.
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