What is Glossary? – Meaning of Glossary and 10 steps to writing a Glossary of words

What is Glossary? – Meaning of Glossary and 10 steps to writing a Glossary of words

A glossary is a list of terminologies related to a particular subject; It contains a list of all the terms you used in your book, thesis or dissertation that the reader might not instantly understand.

Only terminologies that your reader might not be familiar with should be included in your glossary, which is meant to improve their comprehension of your writing. Although glossaries are not so necessary for every writing, especially if the writer is using simple terminologies that are easy to understand by the reader.

A glossary is only needed if you use a lot of technical or industry-specific jargon, as it may make your writing easier to read. A glossary typically takes the shape of an alphabetical list of words, each with a definition that clarifies what it means and every definition you provide must describe its meaning in the simplest terms possible.

Again, keep your target in mind so you can modify the terminology. The reader can more quickly access words that are specific to the material by using a glossary.

Readers may become displeased if they come across numerous unfamiliar industry-specific terminologies, for this reason, authors include definitions of relevant terminology in a glossary, glossaries have valuable information in them used for easy access to words and they are typically placed near the end of a book.

How to write a glossary

  • You should meet the demands of your audience.

A glossary’s entries are intended for the reader, not for you, so you must prioritize their need first and for your readers to understand your writing should be your first goal; ensure when you’re coming up with definitions, keep the audience’s demands in mind.

  • Always Identify who your main audience is.

You don’t need to define every word that a typical reader could know, if you’re writing for a group of colleagues in your profession you might not need a glossary, but on the other hand, if you’re writing for people outside your professional field then you’ll be needing a glossary, and you must make sure to explain each terminology used in the main text.

  • Ask someone for assistance in identifying unfamiliar words

As an author, you might be familiar with your work, and this might be difficult for you to come up with terms for the glossary on your own, you can ask for assistance in coming up with terminology for the glossary.

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You could ask an editor if you are working with an editor on your text as these people could be able to identify terminology in the text that the average reader might find unfamiliar and unclear particularly if they are not experts in your professional field.

  • Make sure to gather the vocabulary for the glossary.

After reading the primary content and asking your editor or readers to scan it for terms, the next step is to gather all the terms into one document and then analyze the terms that your editor and readers have said to sound unfamiliar and make sure the words that an average reader would not be familiar with are well defined at the glossary.

  • For each phrase, create a succinct summary.

As soon as you have determined which terms from the main text belong in the glossary, sit down and create a succinct summary for each one. The summary should consist of a total of two to four sentences. Make an effort to keep each term’s summary concise and to the point.

Always include your own words in the summary. The phrase’s meaning should not be copied and pasted from another source. Plagiarism occurs when someone copies and pastes an existing term into the glossary and then claims it as their own. Make sure to cite any text you utilize from another source in the definition.

  • Definitions should be clear and reader-friendly.

Ensure that the definitions are precise and appropriate for your target audience, and avoid using technical terminologies when defining a term in your glossary because your reader will most likely become confused; the definition ought to convey in the clearest terms possible what the term means about the main text, make sure to observe if the definition refers to any of the other terms in the glossary.

  • Avoid using acronyms in the glossary.

Abbreviations shouldn’t be included in a glossary because doing so can make the reader confused, If the main text has several abbreviations, they should be listed separately from the glossary, and if there are only a few abbreviations used in the main text, you can define them in the glossary.

  • Sort the words alphabetically.

After you’ve finished defining each phrase, arrange the terms in alphabetical order from A to Z, as It will be simpler for the reader to flip through the terms and find the one they’re looking for if the glossary terms are arranged alphabetically.

  • Use space or bullet points to demarcate the terms

To make the terms easier to read, you should also use bullet points to separate each term; alternatively, you can separate each term using a space to prevent the glossary from becoming crowded; this helps to make the glossary look streamlined and professional and you should pick one formatting style and stick with it.

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If a term has related concepts or ideas, you can include sub-bullets within the glossary item for that term. If so, add a sub-bullet after the main one to make the text easier to read.

  • The glossary can be placed before or after the main text

The glossary should be placed either before or after the main content once it has been formatted, although if you’re writing a glossary for an academic work your teacher might specify where they’d like it to go and you can ask your editor where they would prefer the glossary to appear in the text if you are making one for a publication.

Sample of Glossary of Word

Glossary of words in Economics



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