How to Contract with a Book Indexer, Part 3: Give the Indexer a Fighting Chance

April 2001
by Dan Connolly

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OK, you’ve picked an indexer, negotiated the rate, and scheduled the job. It’s time to discuss exactly what the indexer needs from you to produce the best index possible.

Informing Your Indexer

Indexers need information from publishers in order to write indexes. The publisher has many decisions to make in terms of the layout and design of the index, and he needs to communicate these parameters to the indexer clearly. Here are a few issues to think about–alphabetization, format, subentry arrangement, cross-reference format, levels of subentries, punctuation, capitalization, concatenation, and scope. If these concepts are foreign to you, I’d advise reading Chapter 17 of TheChicago Manual of Style (14th edition). If you want to know even more about these things, try Indexing Books by Nancy Mulvany.

The indexer needs to know generally about the bookandits intended audience. He needs to know if the book is going to be marketed to a different audience than its readership (e.g., college textbooks). He needs to know who the reader is going to be, why that reader will be using the book, and what experience and knowledge the reader will bring. The indexer will use this information to get inside the reader’s head, so that he can write accurate, descriptive, and on-target entries.

You should have a style guide for your indexes. You don’t need to create one from scratch. Ther…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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