HOW TO INDEX A BOOK? INDEXING GUIDELINES FOR EDITORS & WRITERS

10 MIN READ

Posted April 26, 2019

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WHAT IS BOOK INDEX AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT?

WHAT IS AN INDEX IN A BOOK?

Before we dive into details, let’s define the true meaning and purpose of indexing and answer what is an index in a book. National Information Standards Organization describes book indexing as a “systematic guide designed to indicate topics or features of documents in order to facilitate retrieval of documents or parts of documents”. In other words, the index in a book is an ordered arrangement of entries and it is designed to enable users to locate information in a document.

Also known as back-of-the-book-index, indexing is found at the end of the book and mostly sorted in alphabetical order. The main role of the index in a book is to identify the concept of the paper and guide the reader to information by gathering scattered relationships or references and to locate keywords and concepts.

BOOK INDEXING – ROADMAP FOR INFORMATION THAT INCREASES READABILITY

How long does it take to find the necessary information in the book? What key points are essential to focus on when searching for important information? Which placement of index is the best for a book?

A successful and positive reader’s experience is based on the quality of the book index. Why? The index in a book role is to create a roadmap to all the pertinent information in the document. A well-organized quality index in a book saves readers time and effort as well as helps to find valuable information easier and faster. Therefore, the readability and usability of the book are being increased and led to better readership results.

In other words, book indexing is a great step to show that the author cares about his reader, because:

Book indexing is the main key to organized information and determines the experience of a reader. The investment to book indexing processes is a tedious but vital component that contributes to the book’s usefulness.

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK INDEX? 3 SUGGESTIONS TO EVALUATE AN BOOK INDEX

STEP 1: OPTIMIZE YOUR WORK PROCESS

If you are thinking of how to create an index in a book, it is useful to clarify the work process in the following steps:

  1. Discuss the book index requirements of the book. In the beginning, it’s beneficial to discuss the audience for the book and the level of desired indexing. Any other special needs are welcomed to be discussed as well.
  2. Identify the priorities what to index. After the indexing process starts, it’s important to submit the final page proofs of the book and determine what’s important to index.
  3. Prepare index and comments for various corrections. After finishing the book indexing process, it’s common to submit a draft and detailed instructions for corrections, queries and other comments.
  4. Deliver final corrections and submit the final book index. If there are any corrections to be made before submitting a final index, they are made.

STEP 2: CONCEPT INTERNALIZATION BEFORE THE CONTENT ORGANIZATION

The book indexing process requires not only a continuum of thought and mental activity but also attentiveness to details, innovative attitude as well as ability to read from a reader’s perspective.

The great indexers’ strategy starts with internalizing the concept of the manuscript first in following steps:

  1. Get familiar with the content and themes of the book at first. This will help you the get the idea of book content, style, and thought.
  2. Focus on the perspective of the reader while internalizing the content. This will help you to notice where the reader needs guidance.
  3. Having an index in a structured way. Create, organize and format index entries to represent a concept in an alphabetical and meaningful order.

STEP 3: LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AND BAD BOOK INDEX

How to define which example is the right for indexing? Here, we will provide a few recommendations of good indexing.

The index is considered good if meets the following quality requirements:

If these criteria are successfully applied to the index, we can congratulate you of making a good quality index!

COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT BOOK INDEX

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BOOK INDEXING SERVICES?

Book indexing is a tedious process – it requires mental focus and attentiveness to details as well as the ability to see the bigger picture. With our experience and knowledge, with book indexing services we can save your time and efforts by:

IS IT POSSIBLE TO MAKE A BOOK INDEX PROCESS AUTOMATED?

Indexing software is often used by professionals to assist them in organizing the index. Thereby, indexing programs are valuable tools and allow them to increase the speed and efficiency of the indexing process. Following, the core question arises: are computer programs capable enough to replace the indexer?

Even though the computer and book indexing software assists, only the human mind alone can analyze the entire content and context of the paper. As well, the book indexer can determine relationships among the concepts and draw specific conclusions, especially when the keywords do not appear in the manuscript. Speaking in other words, the human mind can provide analysis and insight that computer indexing software can’t. Therefore, the answer is negative – as valuable tools as indexing programs are, they do not take place of a human indexer, who can analyze the text.

What humans can do, that computer can’t?

Best practice showed that the best results are reached when the index in a book automation system and the human mind collaborates.

IS IT WORTH HIRING PROFESSIONAL BOOK INDEXER?

Indexing is a specialized form of textual analysis and technical writing which requires skill, time and interest. Even though the authors tend to know very well and the subject and the audience that paper is addressed to, it is always challenging to look at the written manuscript through the eyes of a potential reader. Hiring professional book indexer is not mandatory, but most worthwhile when required a more objective index in a book, meeting strict deadlines and specific publisher inquiries. Most of the professional indexers have long term experience which not only helps to save the author’s valuable time but actually adds worth to the paper through the given analysis and insights of the submitted manuscript.

HOW DO WE GET STARTED?

Feel free to fill our contact form and we will discuss your needs in specifics.

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