Magic Key Indexing
by Eline van der Veken
Whether you are an author, editor or publisher, I can provide your
readers with the key to your work in the form of a professional,
user-friendly back-of-the-book index.
I provide back-of-the-book indexes
- In English and Dutch.
- For academic and non-academic works.
- In the humanities field: language, linguistics, literature,
history, art, biographies, etc.
Why hire a professional indexer?
Peace of mind
Delegating this final job gives you the freedom to focus on finishing the manuscript.
Gain a reader’s perspective
Having read the entire book, the indexer understands and anticipates your
readers’ needs and expectations from an index.
Leave the technical details to the nerds
Don’t concern yourself with figuring out industry standards
and publisher stylesheets, but leave it to the indexer!
The indexing process
- While an estimate can be made based on the manuscript, for the
actual indexing work I will need the final proof, typeset and
paginated, and complete with figures, tables, frontmatter,
appendices, etc. It is important to avoid further changes in the content
at this point that cause the page numbers to shift, because this could lead to
extra adjustments to the index and possibly delays. Typically, the publisher
decides which proof is suitable for indexing.
- I will read the entire document (including footnotes,
tables, figures, appendices, etc.). Becoming intimately
familiar with the work is the best way to anticipate the
reader’s needs and expectations and allows me to highlight
important concepts. These index terms along with their page
numbers are transferred to my indexing program.
- I will edit the index to make it highly user-friendly for the
reader. This includes: creating hierarchical structures with
sub-headings; adding cross-references between related subjects;
adding double entries for synonymous terms for ease of look-up
(e.g. Second World War and World War II); inserting qualifiers
to explain or differentiate terms (e.g. Carmen (novella) and
Carmen (opera)). I will make sure that the layout of the index
complies with industry standards, the publishing house stylesheet
and/or author preferences.
- The index is sent to the client for review and approval.
If there are any requests for changes, I prefer to make the changes myself
as I know exactly how the index is structured and have specialized software at my disposal.
Up two hours of editing are included in the fee; for more changes I charge an hourly rate.
“One of my colleagues, when asked the question, “What is it that really
goes on in indexing?” answered: “Magic!” While magic may or may not play a
role, the intense synergy between creativity and editing that grips the
indexer is an integral part of the indexing process. It is this aspect of
indexing that is difficult to describe and impossible to teach.”
Nancy C. Mulvany, Indexing Books (1994)