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Using an Index to Generate Article Ideas

Originally published in LLL US Western Division’s Connections #66, July/August 1996

An index is a useful tool for locating material that has been written about a particular subject. But have you considered using an index to generate an idea for a new article? The August 1995 Connections index compiled by Lynne Coates covers Issues #39–#59. As you look through the subjects and issue numbers, the following considerations might help spark a topic for your own article.

1. Does a subject area have only a few articles indexed? “Brainstorming,” for instance, only has one article listed (in issue #48). You might have a new or different perspective on the topic or write something with a fresh approach.

2. Is a topic only covered in older issues? “Leadership style” was covered in issues #39 and #41, both in 1990. Perhaps a fresh treatment or a new and different approach would be appropriate.

3. Has a particular aspect of a topic never had an article? The subject “Index” has only one article listed, which was about a tool for District Advisors. There’s no article, until now, about using an index as an article spark!

4. Is there a topic you’re interested in that isn’t represented in the index? Introductions to reprinted articles are something many editors request from Area Administrators who submit “lifted” articles to an Area Leaders’ Letter; memo, or other publication. Yet I don’t see that subject heading in the August 1995 Connections index. Is it time to jump to the keyboard?

5. Use several indexes to generate ideas. The Connections index is only one of the indexes available. There are the year-end indexes in LEAVEN and NEW BEGINNINGS, cumulative indexes for The Baobab Tree and ALL-Spice [old departmental memos], an annual index for LAD Lifeline, indexes at the back of the BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK and THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, and an older Connections index covering Issues #1`–#47, compiled in July 1993.

Pick up an index and look through the topics. I guarantee that a subject, or a new aspect of a subject, will jump out at you, crying for a new look, a new point of view, or a more current treatment. Your editor is looking forward to receiving your article in the mail.

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