THE volume is organized in strict alphabetical order with headwords for each entry. Most headwords cover specific single topics, such as the account of Trollope's life (a good starting point for the general reader). Others are intended to cover all the relevant material under an inclusive title such as 'homes of Trollope', so that the reader does not need to search for several different headwords such as 'Keppel Street' or 'Waltham House'.
Cross-references are used to direct the reader to relevant information on an entry. They are indicated by an asterisk, or by 'see' or 'see also' followed by a headword, in small capitals. Suggestions for additional reading on a topic, particularly in the case of novels, follow an entry. Articles on the fiction use a basic framework of factual information about plot, theme, style, reception, and bibliographic details, but allowance has been made for a contributor's choice of what to highlight or illustrate in a particular text. The texts used are the latest World's Classics editions, and references from them are given in roman capitals for chapters, not page numbers. Sources for short stories are indicated from collections, such as An Editor's Tales. Each entry concerning Trollope's multifarious journalism consists of a digest of the article, with dates and source in periodicals such as Saint Pauls Magazine or the Fortnightly Review. A feature of the Companion is an exhaustive recording of Characters and Locations with their sources at the end of each entry in abbreviated form. These augment information on individual novels and short stories.
For a writer of such quantity as Trollope, use of abbreviations is unavoidable. A List of Abbreviations for works of fiction and often cited other books is on p. xxiii. An Autobiography is shown throughout by abbreviated title and chapter, as in Auto IV. Letters are cited by volume number and page, as in Letters 2, 747.
The reader may find it helpful first of all to read through the Thematic Overview on p. xiii to get a general idea of what the Companion contains. There are eight subject areas: Private Life, Public Life, Trollope the Writer, Characters in Fiction, Locations in Fiction, Individuals Associated with Trollope, Literary Contexts, and Social Contexts (the latter including a section on London). The Overview can be used to track down particular interests, or to make connections with related topics, as, for example, those under headings such as 'Education' or 'Criticisms and reviews on literary themes'.
The Companion includes a Chronology on p. 599, Family Trees (pp. 609-12), and Maps of significant places (pp. 615-21). A Select Bibliography on p. 623 lists works frequently cited in the text and other useful reference works relevant to Trollope studies.
Entries conclude with the contributor's initials, for which the key and biographies appear on p. xix.