This thesaurus is divided into two main sections: Roget's style thematic index and a dictionary style alphabetized index.
The thematic index is divided into six areas, covering less than 20 pages:
Physical and material Concepts
Human Personality and Actions
Human Emotions and Beliefs
For researching ideas, this first part is invaluable.
However, the vast majority of the time, I use the extraordinarily convenient dictionary style index, covering nearly 900 pages. It's easy - if you need a new word to cover the same tired old word you've been using, just look it up. For example, here's the entry for the common word, friend:
Friend, n. 1. [a person with whom one has mutual attachment] - Syn. Companion, intimate, confidant, comrade, familiar, schoolmate, playmate, best friend, close friend, roommate, bedfellow, fellow, fast friend, bosom friend, boon companion, mate alter ego, other self, soul mate, crony*, buddy*, sidekick*, bosom buddy*, homeboy*, homegirl*. Ant. Foe, ENEMY, stranger.
2. [An ally] Syn. Compatriot, confrere, colleague; see associate (in boldface)
3. [A patron] -- Syn. Supporter, backer, advocate, sympathizer; see patron (in boldface) 1.
Make friends with (in bold face) - Syn. Befriend, strike up a friendship with, buddy up to*; see associate (in boldface) 1.
When a word is in bold face, it means that the word is included in the thesaurus and may have other suggestions for you. The number after the bold face tells where in the entry to look for suggestions. The noun form of the word friend has three numbers referring to different definitions. An asterisk after a word, according to the thesaurus, indicates "archaic, colloquial, dialect, slang, or other unusual usage." The N after the entry word refers to its part of speech; in this case, the word friend is a noun. Syn. refers to synonym, or a word that is similar in meaning. Ant. refers to antonym, or a word that is opposite in definition.
The very back of the book has a small handful of pages called the Supplementary Word Lists, which include endings of words, such as -cide, --cracy, --iac, --mancy, and so forth and gives a list of words with that particular suffix. For example, for -iac, the listings includes words such as insomniac, kleptomaniac, and paranoiac, among many others.
In short, this is an excellent reference for a beginner (my ten-year-old frequently uses this thesaurus) as well as a seasoned professional. The organization is superb and it is easy to read and to follow. It's nearly impossible not to find the word that you seek!