I believe, in the before time, when wikipedia was just an idea, there were these things called encyclopedias that came in many volumes. One of the volumes actually described the contents of the other volumes. Despite the encyclopedia being alphabetized, this was useful because it let you skim available topics and got you interested in them (it also got you interested in buying the other volumes).

I have a set of hand written notebooks. I'd like to create a notebook that is, similarly, about the other notebooks to remind myself where certain topics reside. I'd like to give it a name that makes clear what it is.


The notebook about the notebooks will contain a table of contents. However, the notebooks are not organized by subject, they are chronological. This means the same subject will appear scattered on different pages. When I can, I'll gather these page numbers together in a list on a line with the subject. This means it will look a bit like an index. It just won't be alphabetized. I'm doing all this by hand so I'm dealing with certain limitations.

  • Could you be more specific about what this special volume contained? I no longer have my set of the Encyclopedia Britannia, but I have a vague memory of a volume of abstracts -- more than a Table of Contents, but less than a summary. Is this what you mean? One answer suggests index, but nowadays, that is at the end and is just a list of the important words in the book, with the pages on which they occur.
    – ab2
    Feb 23 '16 at 5:20
  • @ab2 that answer your question? Feb 24 '16 at 3:54


Wikipedia says this>

The one-volume Propædia is the first of three parts of the 15th edition of Encyclopædia Britannica, the other two being the 12-volume Micropædia and the 17-volume Macropædia. The Propædia is intended as a topical organization of the Britannica's contents, complementary to the alphabetical organization of the other two parts. Introduced in 1974 with the 15th edition, the Propædia and Micropædia were intended to replace the Index of the 14th edition; however, after widespread criticism, the Britannica restored the Index as a two-volume set in 1985. The core of the Propædia is its Outline of Knowledge, which seeks to provide a logical framework for all human knowledge; however, the Propædia also has several appendices listing the staff members, advisors and contributors to all three parts of the Britannica.


I'm uncertain about any technical term but I believe they are referred to as indices (sing, index) or content books. (Notebook of contents may work but that seems and sounds silly.)

  • 6
    I think you are right. How about looking it up and including a reference in your answer?
    – ab2
    Feb 23 '16 at 3:09

I have a full set of printed encyclopedias from the 1960s and it includes exactly such a volume, which consists of an overview by theme with many cross-references, followed by a normal index with keywords and page numbers. The title of this volume is Index and Guide. Hope that helps.


Since metadata is

data that provides information about other data. [M-W]

, perhaps you could coin the term meta-notebook !


'The before time' has overtones of pre-Olympian creation myths and Aboriginal dream time.

I can only meet you half-way (Middle Ages) with

Encheiridion /enchiridion

enchiridion n. ( seadict.com )

Synonyms: HANDBOOK, Baedeker, compendium, guide, guidebook, manual, vade mecum. [late Latin from Greek enkheiridion, from en- ‘within’ + kheir ‘hand’ + the diminutive suffix -idion.]

Julius Pollux 2nd Century C.E. wrote one which was a digest of all knowledge in one notebook.

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