THE main dictionary is divided into six sections, according to subject: Abstract signs, Animals (including birds and insects), Artefacts, Earth and Sky, Human Body and Dress, Plants. This should make reference quicker and easier, but if in doubt turn to the index where the main entry is in bold type. Cross-references will be found in the index. In the dictionary itself they are shown in small capitals.
There is a final section (unillustrated) which contains what I call 'Collectives'. These are subjects such as the Four Seasons, Seven Liberal Arts and Twelve Ornaments that comprise numerous symbols and to which reference is made many times in the main dictionary. Gods and others who have multiple attributes will also be found here. This avoids the need for tiresomely repetitive explanations whenever they are mentioned elsewhere.
In choosing the illustrations with Chris Puleston, we usually preferred their less familiar aspects, particularly in the case of well‐ known, everyday objects.
There are often alternative systems for transcribing foreign alphabets into Roman. This can sometimes be puzzling, especially when using an index. I decided, after much thought, to stick to the older systems when there is a choice, because they are the ones used in most of the older-established reference books mentioned in the bibliography. For Chinese words I have kept to Wade-Giles instead of the more recent Pinyin (e.g., Chou and Ch'ing dynasties, not Zhou, Qing). See also the Appendix, p.216. For Sanskrit I have used the older, more familiar forms that have no diacritical marks (Krishna, Shiva; not Kṛṣṇa, Siva). Mesopotamian gods are usually referred to by their Akkadian (Semitic) names without accents, though the Sumerian name is used when appropriate (Ea, not Enki; Adad, not Ishkur). Classical deities are given in both Greek and Latin forms (Aphrodite/Venus; Zeus/Jupiter).