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

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

  1. 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. Working from this final document minimizes the chance that further changes in the content are made which cause the page numbers to shift, and subsequently having to adjust the page numbers in the index. Typically, the publisher decides which proof is suitable for indexing.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. The index is sent to the client for review and approval. I prefer to make any changes myself as I know exactly how the index is structured and have specialized software at my disposal.

“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)