Book indexing is actually a rather complex, intellectual process. On the other hand, there is no mystery involved, and the task can be learned and mastered. It needs a well-developed sense of order and punctiliousness; a good memory (especially during the compilation stage); a great deal of patience; and above-average general knowledge of the world, and often highly specialized knowledge of a particular field or discipline.

Book indexing needs a certain flair for the task of analyzing the text; for recognizing the major topics (both stated and implied); for identifying relationships of topics; for arranging terms so that they can be easily found; and for indicating the exact place in a document.

Book indexing can only be learned the hard way, by example, training, and experience. Nevertheless, there are basic guidelines, and relevant provisions of national and international standards that need to be followed. (Source: Hans H, Wellisch, Indexing from A to Z, p. 175-176)

Book indexers constantly must make value judgments as they work through the text, deciding what to include and what to leave out of the index. That is what makes book indexing an intellectual challenge as well as an art.

Book indexing is an organic process with the book indexer addressing large and small structural problems; wording and confusions in the text, and issues of indexibility, all at the same time.

Book indexers constantly make value judgments as they work through the text, deciding what to include and what to leave out of the index.

The book indexer needs to assess the “degree of exhaustivity” while book indexing. “Over-indexing” or “under-indexing” are twin mistakes. Over-indexing lists too many names, topics that are trivial and have little value for the reader. Under-indexing is the omission of indexible terms which shortchanges and annoys readers.

That is what makes book indexing an intellectual challenge as well as an art – something that computers simply can not do.

Nancy Mulvany maintains that “book indexing is something that you will either enjoy or detest; and there is little middle ground. “You either have a knack for it, or you won’t.” “I don’t not believe indexing can be taught…since a very important aspect of this work comes down to the individual indexer’s judgment and communication abilities… Like other types of writing, it is a mixture of art and craft, judgment and selection.” (Source: Nancy Mulvany, Indexing Books.)

Book Indexing Workshops and Training

Indexing Software Used by Book Indexers

Back-of-the-book indexers use stand-alone indexing software to quickly and economically create indexes. These indexing-specific software programs have a wealth of features, take time to learn, and are quite expensive. They can’t be used for anything else except for indexing.

The major stand-alone indexing software programs are:

Indexing Journals, Publications, and Books

Indexing Discussion Groups

 CINDEX Users Group

The CINDEX User Group on Yahoo! is a forum for discussing Cindex, the professional indexing software program from Indexing Research. The list encourages exchange of tips, tricks, and techniques among Cindex users in its DOS, Windows, and Apple Macintosh formats.

 

SKY Index Users Group

 

 Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

American Society for Indexing has numerous  indexing interest groups: Culinary Indexing SIG; Gardening and Environmental Studies Group; Genealogy Indexing and Transcription Group; History and Archaeology Group; Legal Group; Periodical/Database Indexing Group; Politics and International Relations Group; Scholarly Indexing Group; Science and Medicine Group; Sports-Fitnesss Group; Taxonomies & Controlled Vocabularies Group; and Web Indexing Group.

 

Index-L

A forum for aspiring and professional indexers to share information and ideas relating to various aspects of index preparation. Discussion covers index structure for books, periodicals, online text, databases, or hypermedia.

 

Indexstudents

Indexstudents is for anyone interested in learning to index books, magazines, databases. Membership is open to both beginning and experienced indexers, and course instructors/teachers.

WebIndexing Group

A forum for professional indexers who specialize in writing indexes for web sites. Indexers interested in learning about web indexing, and web site creators/editors interested in indexing are also welcome to join this group.

 LinkedIn Indexing Groups

 Facebook Indexing Groups

Book Indexing Groups, eBooks and EPUB