Book Index in Twelve Easy Steps

[found on]

“How to Write a Book Index

The mechanics of writing an index are frequently underestimated. Book indexing is both an art and a craft involving meticulous hard work, clear thought, and numerous interpretations and judgments.

12 Step Guide to Book Indexing

Step 1: Plan Your time!

  • This is probably the most important factor for managing your work-flow, and hence your income. Indexing is a time intensive process. An academic book of 300 pages may take an experienced indexer 7 days to index, whereas a beginner may need two or three weeks
  • Make sure to negotiate the required indexing time with your client.

Step 2: Choose Your Indexing Source

  • Indexing from page proofs. Printed books must be indexed from the final page proofs, in final layout. If the pagination is not final, the entire book might have to be re-indexed.
  • Indexing from a PDF. Use of a searchable PDF ensures that the indexer will not inadvertently delete or alter the book’s text or layout. It also allows the indexer to easily search for additional occurrences of words/phrases elsewhere in the book, thus ensuring a comprehensive listing of entries.
  • Indexing directly from the computer screen. Some indexers prefer to work directly from the computer screen, rather than from a marked-up hard copy; however, it can be harder to comprehend the text and to discern keywords and concepts, so this may be a less effective approach for complex books….”

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