The Whys and Hows of Indexing

June 2010
by Mary Harper

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Does my book need an index? That question comes up for anyone who is publishing nonfiction. As an indexer, I know that there are at least four good reasons to answer it with Yes.

1. Book reviewers often look for an index as a sign of quality. An index helps a book reviewer assess a nonfiction book’s scope and treatment of a subject, so the inclusion of a high-quality index can increase the chances for a positive review.

2. Indexes increase sales in stores. We have all observed people using an index to help them decide whether the book contains what they’re looking for. Think about how information-loaded our lives have become and how useful an index is to someone who feels short of time.

3. Indexes increase sales online. When a book’s index is available via a search-inside option, and when that index is a good one, it has the same effect on readers as on reviewers. .

4. Indexes increase sales to libraries. The library market expects a nonfiction book to have an index. As Robert Broadus says in Selecting Materials for Libraries, “a good index should be expected in any work except creative literature.” Richard Gardn…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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