I hope the answers to these most frequently asked questions will
give you a better understanding of the Indexers
role in the Publishing process and will also provide you with some
basic information and resources to assist you.
What Is Indexing Anyway?
Simply, it's the organized arrangement of entries which enables users to
locate information in a document. Creating an index is
referred to as indexing and one who does the creation is called an indexer.
Who Does Indexing?
For a non-fiction book the responsibility, by tradition, is with
the author. In truth, the job is usually performed by freelancers
who are hired by the author, publisher or packager of the book. More often,
the responsibility falls to the publisher, and the fee is deducted from the
money due the author.
What Exactly Does An Indexer Do?
He/she compiles the index that a reader finds at the back of a book.
Nonfiction books, manuals, and journals are much more valuable with indexes.
A professional freelancer uses specialized knowledge and software to provide
these databases to meet the readers' needs.
How Is It Done?
An indexer receives a set of page proofs (copies of pages as they will
appear, which include the final page numbers). He/she makes a rough list
by reading the page proofs. Some people mark the text as they read through
before making entries; others read through first without marking.He/she then
makes a list of headings and subheadings, and the location of each pertinent
reference. After completion of the rough list, it is edited for
structure, clarity and consistency. Then formatted to specifications,
proofread and submitted in hard-copy form, either on disk, by modem, or by email.
Is It Necessary To Read The Whole Text?
This is essential for most texts though some simple texts may not need
to be read right through before starting compilation. It is preferable to read
once straight through to get an idea of the topics, then again when compiling
if time permits. Most often, however there is not enough time to read
through before starting.
Do You Have To Know About The Subject Matter?
Knowing the subject matter is certainly helpful because you will be
more aware of the nuances and relationships between topics, but if you have
a wide general knowledge you can index books on a variety of subjects.
Specialist books, however, do require specialist indexers.
How Do You Decide What Terms To Use?
A professional can usually pick out words or phrases used in the text while
working through it. It is part of the skill to recognize
general topics and find appropriate wording which may not be obvious from
Are Illustrations Indexed?
Illustrations such as photographs, tables and diagrams should all
be indexed. It's useful for the reader to know that something is
pictured or illustrated and sometimes information may be included with an
illustration that does not appear in the text.
What Skills Are Required?
The skills needed to learn the trade, include excellent language skills,
high clerical aptitude, accuracy, attention to detail and self-discipline.
Curiosity and a love of books is also essential. Of course, as a self-
employed professional you will also need business and marketing skills.
How Does A Freelancer Get Started?
Some people use indexing as a second career through which they can use
expertise developed in another field. It may be combined with other
publishing-related work such as copy-editing and proof-reading. One way to
"break in" to the field is by becomming an apprentice to an established
professional to build your skills and gain experience. On your own you can
submit letters and resumes or make personal contact with publishers. Once
established, you will be able to get jobs thru recommendations from
satisfied clients, networking and some marketing effort.
What Kind Of Income Can I Expect?
As with any entrepreneurial business it all depends on you. It depends on
your skills as an indexer, your business skills, your marketing skills and
your motivation level. Be sure to hone your business skills as well as your
How Can I Learn To Become An Indexer?
Check with your local college or university for Indexing courses. The
US Department of Agriculture offers a correspondence course for trainee
Indexers as does The Society of Indexers.
If your looking for indexing services for your book or project, following is
a short-list of online services. This listing is for informational purposes only
and is not an endorsement by eBook Crossroads.
Allex Indexing Services
Provides freelance book indexing services to publishers,
authors, and packagers. Indexes your way, on time!
Clive Pyne Book Indexing Services
Clive Pyne provides professional freelance services for
publishers, authors and editors
Diane Brenner Indexing Services
Indexing since 1981, Diane Brenner offers back-of-the-book and
embedded indexing, medical database, photographic image,
Hassman Indexing Services
Book & Website Indexing - user-friendly indexes - conscientious attention
to details - fast turnaround time.
Kingsley Indexing Services
Provides high-quality indexes to the publishing
industry and individual authors.
Murphy Indexing Services
Amy Murphy provides accurate, high-quality back-of-the-book and
journal indexes, working within tight deadlines.
Schroeder Indexing Services, Inc.
Creates indexes for books and periodicals
using human skills combined with dedicated indexing software to produce a
superior index on deadline.
The Last Word
Erica Caridio specializes in creating professional back-of-the-book indexes
for publishers, packagers, organizations, and authors..
WordCo has an in-house staff of ten experienced indexers, so you
get the advantages of combined expertise and experience as well
as the security of knowing you are not entrusting textbook or
professional manual, to just one freelancer.