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Often the term Alphabetical is used loosely to indicate any order that is strictly tied to the label attached to information. This label is then sorted according to a fixed order of its component parts, usually using the alphabet order of the letters. Using this fixed approach to ordering makes it particularly suitable for lists, glossary and dictionaries. It also destroys any possibility of a narrative order which would help improve initial understanding.

The term Alphabetical is actually not very well defined. Native speakers of English are liable to imagine that an order based on ASCII is suitable, however for users with non-computer backgrounds this often fails because: - Other languages utilise alternate characters (such as Thorn in Icelandic) or accented characters whose ASCII location is not appropriate - Numerical elements are usually best ordered by value, for example many users would expect the three items "1 Giant Leap", "4 Non Blonds" and "10cc" to appear in that order rather than with "4 Non Blonds" appearing last - Non-Alphanumeric characters such as '$' '!' '(' '{' '<' and '|' have an order that is different from many user's expectations

For these reasons many systems use alternate orderings that are easier to understand but more difficult complex to explain.

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The following pages link to here: Alphanumeric, ASCII, Dictionary

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