Creating forms
August 1, 2018
Let’s get technical and ditch the jargon
August 29, 2018

Indexing: when, how and why?

The best way to find out what indexers do is to try it yourself. Grab an old textbook and go through it from page to page, highlighting every occurrence of names, places, titles and concepts. Go back and type up all the entries into a big table with the page numbers and page ranges included. Sort the whole thing into alphabetical order, and presto! you have an index.
Sounds easy? Here are some things to consider. Have you included all the meaningful references and excluded all the ‘mere mentions’ that don’t really say anything about the subject? Have you included enough subheadings, so that users don’t have to look through thirty or forty undifferentiated page references to find the page they want? Have you put cross-references or double entries to link synonymous terms, so that American users looking up ‘elevators’ find the same pages as British users looking up ‘lifts’? Have you got all the correct accents and diacriticals in the foreign words? Where do you put entries for ‘1914’, or ‘α-keratenase’? Are you using plural and singular forms correctly, so that users aren’t jolted by having to switch back and forth between them? Is it in the format required by your client? And can you trim or expand that index to the required length, and deliver it on time and on budget?

Luckily there are professional indexers who spend their working lives obsessing over these issues. If you can provide an accurate and complete brief, an indexer will be glad to quote on providing an index of any desired length or complexity – but like every other busy professional, they do their best work when they have plenty of notice. Don’t leave it till the last minute!

Need an indexer? Call Mike Holland on 0414 394 440 or email me:
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