Requesting an Index Quotation

The Indexing Quotation

  • To prepare a quotation, I need certain information to estimate the time and work required to write your index.
  1. The Index Quote is the quickest and easiest way. Alternately, you can send  an e-mail responding to points in “What Information is Needed?”
  2. I also need you to send me 10-15 pages of text, or a middle chapter, as a PDF or MS Word doc

 What Information is Needed?

  •  Type of book (academic, biography, technical, trade, etc.)
  •  Audience expertise on the subject (basic, average, expert)
  •  Length of the work (number of pages)
  •  Number of pages allocated for the index
  •  Number of authors (one, multi-authored)
  •  Number/type of indexes (subject, author, etc.)
  •  Material to be indexed (pictures, footnotes, glossary, appendices, etc.)
  •  Are you able to send 6 to 10 representative pages for me to evaluate?
  •  Preferred style for the index (Chicago, house style, other)
  •  When will I receive the page proofs?
  •  Date index must be completed?
  •  If I find errors in the text, should I notify you immediately, or wait until indexing is complete?
  •  Anything else that I should know (i.e. unusual page size, font size, heavy use of photographs, etc.)

If you don’t have specific style preferences, you can leave that to me, based on what is  appropriate for the text.

Evaluating The Text to Determine the Indexing Fee

  • When you request a quotation, the indexer will requires a sample of the text to determine the amount of time and work involved to write the index. Academic and trade books vary significantly in terms of complexity and density of the text, and number of index entries per page.
  • The indexing fee and the amount of time required to write the index are determined after evaluating a representative sample of the book.
  • Please complete quotation form/
  • We follow up with you for sample documentation
  • 10 to 15 representative pages (not introductory material), or
  • a middle chapter that is representative of the book

Scheduling With The Indexer

  •  Preferably, schedule your book project with me about 3 weeks in advance of the date the page proof will be sent to me for indexing. There are always other books in cue waiting to be indexed for other authors and publishers.
  •  This grace period allows me time to fit the project into my schedule.
  •  If delivery of page proofs is delayed, an equal grace period will be required at the tail end of a project to offset the front end slippage.

Rush rates vary between 25% and 50% more than standard rates

Time Constraints

How long does it take to write an index?

  •  Allow about one week (7 business days) for every 250 pages of text. The time is required to read the book, mark-up the keywords in the text, in-put the index entries into the indexing database, and then edit, format and proof the index.
  •  A very “basic index” (i.e., short and shallow) may take just as long, if not longer to write as a comprehensive index. The “depth” of indexing varies with the page content, the audience and length of the index.
  •  The indexer is involved with many publishers and authors so it is important to schedule with the indexer with adequate lead time

How long does it take to edit the index?

  •  Editing takes between 20% to 40% of the total indexing time;
  •  Editing is a vital step, and readers will definitely notice if an index has not been given enough editing time;
  •  The more consistent and structured the main text is, the less time required;

Editing multi-authored works requires more time for editing because of differences in terminology, writing style and voice<

What factors increase the time required to write the index?

  •  A good comprehension of the text is required before indexing can proceed. If the text is complex, it takes longer to read and identify key words and concepts;
  •  Re-indexing an index, due to changes made in the book layout, takes additional time;
  •  Indexing of notes or references takes additional time;
  •  Multiple indexes requires more time to create, edit and proof;
  •  Indexing of figures and tables may take additional time;
  •  Page proofs and PDFs occasionally have “bugs” and other technical issues that prevent copy/pasting of terms into the indexing database will delay the indexing process;
  •  Foreign language text often requires additional time and special treatment;
  •  Poorly edited text makes reading and the selection of key terms for the index more difficult;
  •  Page numbering of the PDF can present problems;
  •  Last minute changes to page proofs may delay delivery of the PDF to the indexer;
  •  The indexer sometime needs to consult with the author or editor on issues encountered during the book indexing process;

Illness and unforeseen events

Length Of The Book Index

The Length of a book index is generally determined by:

  • the number of pages available;
  • number of lines per page;
  • number of characters per line;
  • total number of entries in the index;
  • the font and number of columns used in the index.

The number of pages set aside for the index can make a huge difference in the overall quality of an index.

A general guideline for estimating the number of pages or length of an index is:

Estimates of Index Length

*Adapted from Indexing Books by Nancy C. Mulvany. pp. 65-67.

Type of Book Percent of Index Pages # Entries per page
Mass market trade books
  • General reader
  • Short indexes
2-5% 3-5
reference books
  • Academic books
  • Cookbooks
  • Medical texts
  • Style manuals
7-8% 6-8
Technical I
  • Academic books
  • General manuals
  • Policy and procedures
  • Text books
  • Training manuals
10% 8-10
Technical II
  • Academic books
  • Codes & regulations
  • Complex manuals
  • Specialized books
15%+ 15+

How to Reduce an Index to the Allotted Space

  •  Reducing the size or length of a book index is something that should be done by the indexer, not the editor (unless the editor has extensive experience with indexes).
  •  The indexer is more intimately aware of the index structure, and so can remove less important entries while retaining key concepts

Other tricks:

  • Use a smaller font. The typical index has a font two points smaller than the main text. An 8 point font is often used
  • Use 3 or 4 columns instead of 2 columns for the index
  • One or two blank pages can usually be found somewhere in the book
  • One extra page can make a big difference in the usefulness of the index

Page Proofs only Please

  •  Page proofs are required for indexing: Page proofs are the typeset pages with the final page numbers
  •  Once the indexing has started, no additions, deletions or movement of text, pictures, etc. can occur because alterations in the flow to text on the page will invalidate the page references of the index, and parts of the index will have to be re-indexed. If the index has to be re-indexed, re-indexing charges will apply
  •  Page proofs are usually sent as PDFs or MS Word. doc by e-mail. Alternately, the file(s) can be sent on a CD/DVD or as hard copy
    • PDFs sent by e-mail saves you courier fees;
    • PDFs are a cross-platform method of transporting documents;
    • A hard copy of the book can be printed from a PDF;
    • PDFs have search capabilities that can be useful at the editing stage.
  • Delay in the delivery of proof pages delays the completion of the index.
    • an equal grace period is required at the tail end of a project, if the front end slips;
    • a delay may impact other projects that I am working on. The other projects may have to take precedence in that case

How the Author Can Help the Indexer

The Author Can Provide:

  1. A Seed List of word: a list of between 10 and 15 words/concepts that the author considers key to the index . Please forward the seed list along with the page proofs to:
  2. The Bibliography may be a very helpful document when constructing the index.  A copy of your bibliography helps me to proof spelling of names; and ensure that all authors cited appear in the bibliography. Please forward as an MS Word or PDF file with the page proofs.
  3. Answering Questions. Your prompt response to my queries will be much appreciated.Progress Reports.
    Authors sometimes want to view the index while it is being written.  I am very reluctant to share the file prior to editing the finished index. The writing is very dynamic and changes moment by moment. The polish and sense of the final index develops during the editing process

How the Indexer Can Help the Author

Proofreading the Typeset Index

If the production schedule allows, I can offer to proofread the typeset index to ensure that:

  • the whole index has indeed been properly typeset;
  • indents and run-over lines have been placed correctly;
  • any details or other items in question have been properly filled in;
  • the first page number of the index matches with the table of contents;
  • correct “continuation” lines are included.