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What Is Automatic Indexing?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2016
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Automatic indexing is the act of using a computer program or algorithm to go through files, documents and websites in search of keywords. This can be used in individual programs but also is a popular algorithm for search engines, which have to crawl through various websites to ascertain their information. An advantage to automatic indexing is that the computer can easily index and search a document much faster than a person can. The downside is that a person has to make the indexer, and it is possible for the indexer to miss key points because of faulty programming.

There are many files found on the Internet, computers and storage devices. Each of these documents usually concerns a specific topic, and recurring words will reveal the documents' subject matter. For example, a medical document typically will use medical terms. An automatic indexing program will go through the document and categorize the document based on these words.

Some individual programs, such as document readers, are able to perform automatic indexing. When it comes to searching a local network, this feature typically is included with databases that can be difficult to search manually. The most popular place to find automatic indexing is an online search engine, because the search engine has to match up the user’s keyword, or search term, with all the websites in existence. Without this feature, it would be difficult for people to find relevant websites.

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The most obvious advantage to automatic indexing is that it takes the work away from humans, who cannot scan a document as fast as a computer can. The computer also can categorize the documents after scanning them, so users will not have to perform this tedious work. While users may have to check the organization for errors, because an indexer may sometimes misplace a document, this still is easier than doing everything manually.

While there are many advantages, there also are disadvantages to using automatic indexing. As with any program or algorithm, a person has to create the program. This means the programmer has to tell the indexer how to pair words, which can lead to inaccuracies resulting from poor programming. The indexer also may be unable to tell certain words apart, or it may have a large number of inaccuracies because of odd keywords. For example, a medical document that discusses the dangers of cosmetics may incorrectly be categorized as a beauty and makeup document.

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