I received my Master's Degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College in May 2011. I have taken several courses related directly to indexing, including Subject Analysis (Indexing and Thesaurus Construction) and Information Organization.
I came to indexing through my passion for helping other people access the knowledge they want and need in a world over-saturated with information. I love to read and engage with new ideas and concepts in the books I index. I believe I possess the unique skill set required for a strong and usable index: the ability to synthesize large amounts of narrative text into an alphabetical list of words and concepts.
My areas of interest and background include Jewish history, religion, and community; queer and LGBT cultures, communities, and histories; and culinary arts, including cooking, bread baking, and food preservation.
Although most people use indexes frequently, few consider the creative work that goes into their construction. Despite technological advances in indexing software, most indexing work is still done by humans.
An index contains more than just words that appear in the document. Indexes include complex topics, sub-topics, and cross-references to other useful terms, all within a system determined by the indexer together with the author.
A table of contents is not an index. It is simply an outline of the book.
A concordance (an alphabetized list of words in a document) is not an index. It is a list of words and phrases without analysis or context.
A glossary is not an index. It does not link from its entries to other content in the book, and does not necessarily account for concepts and ideas.
Searching Google Books is not a stand-in for using an index. It can help the user locate a specific word, but does not provide the context for the word's use, nor does it allow searching for concepts and ideas.
Some content in this section was adapted from:
Glenda Browne and Jon Jermey, The Indexing Companion. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
What is the indexing process?
- Reviewing books and indexes on similar topics recommended by the author, noting style and level of detail.
- Reviewing guidelines sent to me by the publisher.
- Discussing with the author his or her vision for the index as well as his or her experience with indexes as a researcher.
- Obtaining a copy of the manuscript from the author in advance of page setting and pagination by the publisher.
- Reading manuscript, noting potential entries and sub-entries.
- Reading through paginated proofs from the publisher, noting page numbers of previously reviewed entries and sub-entries.
- Stopping at the end of each chapter (or other natural pausing point) to break unwieldy entries into sub-entries.
- Maintaining a running list of entries about which I have questions to ask the author, then checking in with the author once I reach the end.
To edit the index, I use the following guiding questions:
- Is anything critical missing? Are there entries that I overlooked because they are such blatant or obvious parts of the book?
- Do similar people, places, and concepts receive the same level of treatment? Did I use more or less detail for each one?
- Are there remaining entries that have too many running page numbers? Do they need to be broken down into further sub-entries?
- Did I make sure to cover auxiliary and visual content, in addition to the main section? (Did I properly index photos, maps, and footnotes?)
- Do I have any incomplete cross-references?
- Are my page citations accurate?
- Would someone looking for ________ be able to find it easily? If not, are there cross-references I should add that would make it easier?