Indexing Resources

Indexing FAQ's and Services

Frequently Asked Questions

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 the text.

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 indexing skills.

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, and keywording.

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.

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